Paying the Bills

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Money isn’t an easy topic with God. On one hand, he’s rigid and highly opinionated, and on the other, he’s like “Oh, money. Whatever.”

But God had pulled up a chair and was watching me write checks. A few of them were to charities. Avoiding topics with God never works for long, so I might as well confess a few things. My relationship with money is convoluted. I like it but it scares me. I try to think of it all as a gift–a loan from the Universe, but the evidence provided by my warm house and my full stomach points to my own hard work, my own savings plans, my own bargain-hunting, my own birth, family, values, and choices.

I don’t have to go very far down the road to see people suffering from lack of money. Is this their own damn fault? Is this God’s own damn fault? Is this my own damn fault?

“God,” I say. “We’ve been over this a million times, but today…do you have anything to add? I knew he’d been riding along on my train of thought.

“Sure,” God says, cheerfully. “Which would make you more afraid. No money, or no God?”

My gut twists as I think about this. No money would stink. I’d be thrown on the mercy of others and that would be humiliating, at best. But no God would mean no loving, intelligent force behind, under, in, and around the known and unknown universe. That would stink worse. I imagine myself dying of hunger or exposure, in excruciating pain. I turn to the God I carry around—the God I believe in more or less, most of the time—and it’s good to have that imagined God beside me in my imagined poverty or pain.

“Ok. I’m more afraid of no God,” I say slowly, “But that doesn’t answer my question.” Even as I say this, I realize I don’t know what my question is exactly. Of course, God pounces on that.

“You don’t know what to ask because these are Living Questions, and you have to live the answers,” God said. He sounded like a tired professor. “In your species, there are no pure motives. This confuses you.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “You’re talking about consciousness, right? Paired off against biology. Do you have any idea what a pain that can be?”

God gave me a look, but I kept going.  “Are you sure we were ready for consciousness?” I asked, my heart heavy with the human condition. War, fake news, hunger, injustice, cruelty–the lying, stealing, hating, greedy ways humans can be.

“No,” God said. “I’m not sure. It’s been agonizing so far. But I have faith in you people. And no matter what, I’ll stick it out, alongside and within.”

“Oh, thanks,” I said, sarcastically.

“Don’t mention it,” God said, matching my sarcasm. “That’s just the kind of God I am.”

We were both upset. Me, a puny little human, trying to be honest. God, weary. Disappointed. Infinite.

“I’m sorry,” I said, looking at his slumped shoulders.

“Me too,” God said. “Me too.”

We sat a while, glad for each other’s company. Daunted by the magnitude of what we had to do.

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