doing His work
Agnes Neville had led a godly life. Just ask her. A regular churchgoer, Agnes never missed a service and was on the council at her local congregation. She might have become a nun but she hated the idea of hiding away when there was so much she could offer in terms of good deeds. Every night she would kneel at her bedside and recount her good acts just in case God had missed any. He did get awful busy sometimes and one might just slip by unnoticed. She was the youngest of her family’s four daughters. Unfortunately the eldest daughter Hope had died during childbirth. Both of her parents insist that even if they would have allowed the Doctors to administer the medical assistance they were so against they still couldn’t have saved her. Agnes still counted her as a sister and was looking forward to meeting her in Heaven. Agnes had a favorite sermon. It had forever changed the way that she viewed what had been, up until that moment, one of her most troublesome internal debates. The priest had railed against the giving of money to the homeless because, his words not hers, it interfered with God’s plan. God had intended for them to be homeless. He was punishing them or trying to teach them a lesson and every dollar given to them by strangers was hindering His will. That made total sense to Agnes and it validated her feelings on the subject. Given this new endorsement she went on to further explore ways to avoid getting in the way of God’s plan. Her sister Charity worked for the federal government. FEMA to be exact. Although it wasn’t a glamorous job, Agnes felt that they were doing the Lord’s work alright and she was proud of her. When the awesome power of the United States government met the terrible wrath of the Supreme Being and His desire to punish the sins of New Orleans then you know who was going to win that one. When Agnes ran the numbers on how many people were currently on the planet, how many had been before us, how many were to come and the final headcount of how many would be let into heaven it seemed like a rather exclusive club. She liked that. A lot. It wasn’t her responsibility to question the Father on the guest list, just to make sure she was on it. It wasn’t a great stretch to see how she had done her part at narrowing down the candidates even at her own church. She wanted, in her own small way, to make God’s job that much easier by eliminating the ones that were obviously not cut out for the whole ‘eternity in His presence’ thing. Despite dwindling attendance, she felt pretty strong that her church had at least a half-dozen people that might be making the final cut. Her younger sister Chastity had taken a much different path. Starting out as an exotic dancer she had quickly slipped into a life of prostitution and drug use. Agnes had been there at every turn to point out her younger sister’s mistakes but she refused to listen. They didn’t communicate much after awhile. In her last letter to Agnes she had written that her new pimp was “sweet and sometimes terrible and funny and often cruel. The abusive step-father she never had”. God certainly worked in mysterious ways Agnes thought to herself countless times. If only He would allow her to get more involved … but she understood that there are things that even a few foot-washings wouldn’t solve. As her parents had passed away years before and her sister Charity had already used up her vacation days for the year it was no surprise that Agnes died alone. The priest had stopped by a few times before she departed but she was ok without the fanfare of a big send-off. She had no doubt what awaited her. There would be no sickly-green chipping paint on the walls or worn out crème-colored tiles on the floor. She was going to The Show. The truth was she got in on a technicality. Saint Paul looked long and hard but couldn’t come up with a reason to keep her out. He made her wait a few agonizing seconds and she shuffled nervously from one foot to the other as he looked up and down her chart, pausing a few times with a long “hmmmmmm”. Had it been put out to a vote by those inside … the ol’ wings probably wouldn’t have been handed out. When she was finally granted access Agnes was a little surprised that her youngest sister Hope wasn’t at the party. Apparently she hadn’t been baptized or something so off to hell she went. Agnes lamented at the tough break but understood that rules were rules. It was then that she was assigned her role in heaven. There would be no sitting around for her. Agnes was put to work. Although it doesn’t go into much detail about it in the Bible, a soul in purgatory is actually given a regular hearing as to when and if they can be allowed into the Pearly Gates. Agnes was given a spot on the board who reviews these cases. It was a time-consuming job and it didn’t leave her much time to poke around the grounds much if at all. She sometimes wondered when she’d get to mingle and see who else had made it in. To date nobody had even bothered to explain where the table was that she would be seated at His right side of. The only table she had seen so far was the long number where she sat with paperwork piled up in front of her and a single folding chair in front of it where the candidates would sit. Before you lose any sleep about the unfairness of this appointment and the certainty of which she would constantly reject each and every soul who came before her know this; the Cosmic Engineer knew this as well. The other two members of this group were both selected because they were bottomless wells of forgiveness. Possibly to a fault some might add but nevertheless every single soul that came before this panel was given the thumbs up by a vote of two to one. At the risk of being blasphemous, it’s hard to imagine a greater example of karma in action. Even after being overruled for the thousandth time she felt the same bitter sting, let out the same pained groan and felt the same sinking feeling of unfairness in the pit of where her stomach use to be. After awhile it was hard for Agnes to tell the difference between heaven and hell.