Magpie at Dawn


As I raised the north-facing shades this morning, God streaked through the dawn sky on the wings of a magpie. A straight, direct flight going I know not where. Her feathers glowed holy black in the tender light shimmering over the icy river, which was sliding along under the orange willows.

Even in this profound silence, you can hear God in the pulse of things. But you don’t have to. Nothing is required. Even gratitude is optional. Joy is optional–painfully optional.

On a different day, God explained this to me. I didn’t like it then, and I still don’t. God thrives on options and told me there’s an entire cheering section set aside in heaven for each time some fool among us makes a good choice.

“We are all bumbling idiots,” I explained to God. “Can’t you provide a stronger framework? A lot of us are stuck in blind alleys, making repeated bad choices.”

“Don’t I know it,” God said, wryly. “But I’ve got time on my hands, and if I do say so myself, I’m a pretty patient God, as gods go. Come to think of it, I’m the God with a capital G, the beginning and the end, the one and only. I can wait.”

“Oh, sure,” I argued. “You can wait. You’re God. But what about us?”

“Yeah,” God answered, slowly, with real compassion. “What about you?”

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