“God,” I said. “Do you care if humans believe in you?” We were gazing out the filmy curtains in a motel in West Virginia. God was relaxed and amicable. I wasn’t. My physical being was tormented by lack of sleep, stiff joints, road food and irrefutable evidence that the world was in big, big trouble.
“What do you mean by ‘believe’?” he asked.
Oh great. God was in a rhetorical mood.
I fought the impulse to shout YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN and said instead, “I mean like feeling sure you exist.”
“Exist is an odd word,” God said, stroking his chin like a retired philosophy professor. “I actually don’t exist in any sense of the word you can grasp. I just am. And to answer your question, yes and no. I don’t care for my sake. I’m perfectly sufficient unto myself. But for your sakes…”
His voice cracked. He looked away, smoothed his robes. “For your sakes…” He shook his head and took a couple deep breaths. “I wish I could be of help.” His longing was clear.
This scared me. I said, “Well, some rather large groups down here have formulas. If we believe a certain way, you’ll save us. And forgive us, and reward us in heaven, or something like that.”
God shrugged. “I know. Humans seem to need that. It’s basically okay with me, but they waste a lot of time judging, fussing, and worrying when they could just relax and live the Truth. And there’s not a lot of time to waste.”
I did double-take. This is how I feel—apocalyptic—but I didn’t want God feeling that way.
“What?” I said. “There’s eternity, right? You’re the beginning, the end, the middle–the forever, right?”
“Sure,” God said. “I’m infinite. But you’re linear. For now, you’ve got this chance to do good things, little by little. To get better, deeper, wiser, kinder. To figure it out. I’ve mostly cleared the way. Opportunities abound.”
“Ugh,” I said. “That’s so hard. I’d rather be infinite.”
“Oh, don’t I know it,” God said. Then he burst into laughter, slapping his thigh, screeching with glee. “There’s the problem, right there. What a truly bad idea. You, in your current condition, infinite.”
I laughed, too. Tentatively. God laughed harder. He could barely breathe. His eyes squeezed shut. The jagged linearity in the room softened, as infinity dribbled down God’s weathered cheeks. I touched my hand to the shimmer, hope against hope, but the seconds on my digital watch blinked relentlessly forward.