On whether the road to hell is paved with green tinsel

Pyromania revisited

My gardening style is, as those who have observed it will testify, a matter of four simple steps:

1) Wait for the garden to get so overgrown that I can stand it no longer, go on a mad pruning and hacking spree, and pile the vegetation thus chopped into a mound at the end of the lawn.

2) Wait for the mound of vegetation to get so huge that I can’t get to the vegetable patch (a laughable term used to describe

, at time of writing, some rhubarb and seven potatoes)

3) Burn the mound.

4) Repeat.

We recently got to step 3 in the latest cycle of this unending loop, and got ourselves quite a little inferno going.  Monica and I were enjoying heaving huge swathes of dried brambles onto the flames and listening to the “hiss” that suggested they weren’t as dry as all that.  And Oliver and Elías had decided to help (Dominic was indoors talking to the gerbils)

Oliver had really got the hang of the game, and was assisting with the addition of significant amounts of bamboo and the like.  Elías was also trying hard, but his enthusiasm was tempered by his lack of knowledge of the rules.  He was, however, quite determined that little bits of green tinsel left over from last year’s Christmas tree should be added to the pyre, and took real, personal and dedicated responsibility for carrying each and every piece of tinsel he could find individually to be thrown on.  Don’t get me wrong: he worked very hard, and his intentions were right, but…

…but, they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

My own green tinsel

If the road to hell is, indeed, paved with good intentions, my heavenly father presumably spends most of his time looking at me and shaking his head and thinking “What, precisely, do you think you’re doing? You don’t get it do you?  It’s all very well meaning to get it right, but you still don’t get the rules!  I want results, not good intentions!”

Perhaps more figuratively, he might say to me “Stop throwing green tinsel on the fire!  Do something useful with the brambles!”

Fortunately (for me, at least) the whole “road to hell” thing is not strictly true.

Yes, some bits of the bible are full of lists of things we should or shouldn’t do.  But God is not target-orientated.  He went to absolutely extraordinary lengths to restore a relationship with him.  And that’s what he wants.  What I do (and what I don’t do) should just reflect that relationship.  And when, like Elías, I end up picking up bits of metaphorical green tinsel, I’m sure my heavenly father smiles affectionately, points me in a more appropriate direction, and looks forward to the day I understand better what he’s doing and am able to imitate him more closely.

© 2011 Paul Brownnutt