In heaven the happiness that isn't there isn't there.

Wednesday, 12/4/13

The first reading gives us the words of Isaiah in seven hundred B.C  From God living within him, he had received assurance that there was life after death, and the only way he could picture the fulfillment of  God’s promise was to picture God inviting the just to a wedding feast on a mountain high enough to touch the heavens.

Isaiah lived with country people who had no restaurants, no theaters, no air conditioning, no well-stocked stores. For them, the height of happiness could be found only at a wedding feast on which the family had blown their savings.

Let me tell you about a Korean country wedding in the spring of 1955. I had an illegal jeep which the Korean Army was soon to take from me; but at the spring harvest I still had my buggy.

A wedding had two banquets back then: one in the girls village; and when the food ran out, the wedding party would make its way to the boy’s village for their feast.  

Having judged the day when the bride’s village would need to let her go, I bumped the jeep up to their place, and I waited through the final ritual. It had the men of the girl’s village tying a rope around the groom’s ankles, then stringing him  up for some playful spanking in punishment for him taking their beauty away from them.

After getting him  down , and into the front seat, we waited for the bride to be brought out. Gowned for the wedding, she was furnished with lipstick for a very small mouth. She was to be a woman of few words, and none at all on her wedding day. But, she was soon to break that rule.

I had a shotgun by my side, and as we sped along between great, newly harvested rice paddies, the bride called out “Gwong!” She saw a flock of male pheasants, and she hiked up her gown to lead her new husband and me in a fruitless pursuit.

“Not to worry,” the groom assured me. “At the wedding feast in my village we will have pheasants and every wonderful food imaginable.” He had a tricky turn of phrase to describe that plenty. He said, "Opnun got opsumnida“ or: "The food that isn’t there, isn’t there. “ With heaven, the happiness that isn’t there, isn’t there.” 

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