It was early morning, at my daughter’s apartment in the city. I hadn’t slept well thanks to the noises from below. “God,” I said, yawning. “Could you heal this damn groin stretch?” I put my hand there in case God wasn’t sure what I meant. No answer. No relief. No surge of warmth. No nothing. I gave up after a few supplications and clumsily rolled to my feet.
My back hurts and my groin is probably throwing my whole spine into disarray. I have a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, and an attitude.
“God,” I said, as I sipped my coffee. But what’s there to say? I’d hardly had any rest, and there’s a chance God’s a bit tired of my whining.
The guy in the apartment below vomited through the wee hours, heaving and swearing, heaving and swearing. Even now, I can hear him moaning and complaining. It might be the flu, but I think more likely, he drank too much.
How’s that for compassion?
A whole family lives down there, below grade, incessantly shouting and screaming at each other. Their babies whimper up through the floor boards. Hours before the vomiting began, I heard the dad reading “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” to the toddler. It was a creepy, manic rendition, punctuated by what sounded like the dad destroying the place by leaping illustratively on the furniture. The child’s laughter was forced, tentative, unsure. Was Daddy funny? By God, he better be.
Where are the missionaries when you need them? Or the cops? Within three blocks, there are at least five churches. Some majestic, others store-front humble, some declaring the Holy Spirit lives within the walls. Indeed. And the sirens sound all night. It’s that part of town. But down below, people have reproduced in selfish misery, sanctioned by the same biological urges that lead me to lift things I shouldn’t anymore. It is the same force that allows a seed to sprout through a crack in the pavement.
I’m not going down there. I’m not saying anything. Except, well, yes, I’ll mention them to the Universe, but only in passing. My more fervent prayer is that I not be reincarnated as one of those children. I doubt any of us actually hopes for cosmic justice.
Amidst my shameful mutterings, God slips in and hands me a Charades card. I turn it over; all it says is “Grace.” Grace. Ah ha! A motion-detector goes off in the dark thrashings of my soul, and I see clearly–just like the song says. It is, in fact, grace that brought me safe thus far. Me and my groin, my longings, my failings, fears, diseases, aversions, and befuddlements. And it’s grace that will lead me home. Eventually. Home.
But God is laughing in the corner. This startles me. I turn so we’re face to face. “You’re already home, darling,” God says, slapping a fat thigh, winking. “You’re already home.”
“No,” I say gently back to God. “No, I’m not.”