Monday, March 30, 2009

On Purgatory and swimming pools

Down half a pound, now at 185.4 - yay!

In my alternate Web persona as "theistgal", I have come across threads on two separate forums asking what Eastern Christians/Catholics believe about Purgatory. One thread is at Orthodox and the other at
Catholic Answers.

This is one of those arguments that will never end till we get there and find out for ourselves. Frankly, I am suspicious of anyone who says they know, for a fact, what happens to us after we die. I think we just have to make the best guess we can, based on the best information we can find, and hope God is merciful. (And that He has a really, really good sense of humor!)

But when I think of Purgatory, I think of ... Sunnyside Park, in what's now called the "Waldo" area of Kansas City, Missouri. Sunnyside is a really nice, big park, with walking trails, tennis courts, a playground ...

and it USED to have two small but wonderful swimming pools, which have been replaced now by "spraygrounds".

They weren't your standard rectangular pools. They were round. There were two of them. Both were concrete, painted sky blue. One was the "baby" pool - wading pool, no more than about 6 inches deep at the most. The other was the BIG pool - 3 feet deep and intended for us BIG kids (well ... bigger than the babies, anyway!).

But you couldn't get into EITHER pool till you walked through -

The Antiseptic Foot Bath!!!

Yes, that's right - you had to wash your filthy dirty feet before going into that clean, chorine-filled water.

To me, that's what Purgatory is - the place to wash off all the dirt you've accumulated before you enter Heaven. After all, it does say, somewhere in the Bible, that "nothing unclean may enter Heaven" - but it doesn't say there's no way to GET clean, before you get there.

And I'm relieved to find I'm not alone in this opinion. C.S. Lewis, an Anglican, also believed in Purgatory as a place to get clean. In his "Letters to Malcolm", he wrote:

Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' - 'Even so, sir.'

Hence ... the Purgatorial Foot Bath! Enter into the joy, my friends - just wash your feet first!

(P.S. I'm sad to say that the pools at Sunnyside Park were dismantled a few years ago. I was fortunate enough to be in town, shortly after they'd been torn up, and found a few small pieces of concrete scattered around the area, still spattered with that sky-blue paint ... and still smelling of chlorine.