“Hey, God,” I said. “Should I feed the birds?”
“Say what?” God said, puzzled.
“Should I feed the birds? I mean like buy bird seed, put it in a feeder, fill it up, and feed them?”
“That is entirely up to you,” God said, gleaming bright yellow from the feathers of a goldfinch, scarlet from the blackbird wings. I remembered God’s hysterical laughter at the mating dance of the sandhill crane earlier this spring. Why would she not endorse the idea of bird-feeders? She obviously gets a kick out of birds.
“But should I?” I asked again. “I can afford bird feed. I could feed them and give them a place to splash around, too.”
“You sure could,” God said. “I’ve been doing it for eons. They like thistle seed. And they’re not that picky about where they splash around. They’re like little kids; they love puddles.”
“I don’t like thorns,” I said, frowning. “And I don’t like puddles. Mosquito breeding grounds.”
“Yes,” God said. “You aren’t a bird. Birds see things differently. You’re not a child anymore, either.”
“Sheesh,” I said. “I know that. Why do you have to point out the obvious instead of answering me directly?” This was becoming one of those exasperating conversations where the tables were soon to turn. I could feel it in my bones.
Sure enough, God said, “Excellent question. Why do I have to point out the obvious over and over? Why do I have to bend over backwards, forwards, sideways, up, down, and under? Why do I have to repeat myself ad infinitum? Why do you choose angst over joy? Why do you fear your mortality? Why do you hide in your greed? Why don’t you sing or dance or play more often?”
“I knew you’d do this to me. I ask a simple question, and you turn into a bird, and then get all defensive and blame me for not…”
“Not what?” God said, putting a big, oil-stained hand on my shoulder. The fingernails were atrocious. It was workaday God. “Not what?” he repeated.
I was stymied. I felt blamed and guilty but I couldn’t put my finger on why.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I’m sad, God. And angry. It’s making me dull-witted.”
God laughed. “Basically, just remember this: It’s all chicken feed and beautiful brown eggs. Get out there and love the most obnoxious people you can find. Grab my hand and listen to their hatefulness with interest and compassion. Smile beatifically.”
It was my turn to say, “Say what?”
And we left it at that. I had lists to make. Weeds to pull. A self to feel sorry for, and a country and world to feel sickened by. And God? Who knows? Probably busy forgiving someone. That’s my best guess.