“You’ve locked up an astounding number of people,” God said, settling into the sage green recliner. “Expensive choice,” she added. She pushed back to elevate her feet. The news coverage of poorly fed immigrants imprisoned in New Jersey seemed to have stimulated this comment. I nodded politely, but this is not my favorite topic.
“And a few of them are on hunger strike,” God said, shaking her head.
“Do you disapprove?” I asked, confused about where this was going.
“Oh no,” God said. “I’m right there with humans risking their lives for justice.”
“But starving yourself is a form of slow suicide,” I said. Some people think you don’t approve of that. Ever. At all.”
“Ironic” God said. “You have the death penalty and you force tubes down the noses of those willing to die for a cause.” I flashed back to a documentary of prison guards inserting those tubes. It had made me cry. God interrupted my unsettled ruminations. “You remember that Mary Oliver line ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’”
“Of course,” I said. “But she was not writing about hunger strikes.” I looked straight at God. God rolled her eyes, stood, and began pacing.
“I forget how rule-bound and simplistic you humans can be. It’s rare for you to transcend—to realize that you’re only temporarily clad in that one wild and precious life. There are times to let go.”
I looked out the window, wishing for silence, but God didn’t let up. “Thousands of years ago, when the Poet wrote ‘…a time to kill and a time to heal…’ she didn’t mean these actions were preordained. There are times to be born and times to die. Times to reap and times to sow, times to throw stones and times to gather stones together. Each of you has to figure out when.”
I thought of Palestinian youth, throwing stones. Dying. I thought of scorched swaths of earth–reaping and sowing obliterated by climate change, chemicals. The enormity of moral agency chilled my inner being. I wanted a default setting to fall back on.
God read my mind. “No part of you is ever alone,” she said, standing near the fire, rubbing her hands. She reached in her pocket and handed me a shiny business card. It read:
God. Author of Forgiveness.
Source of Wisdom. Definition of Love.
I felt sick. “No,” I said and threw the card in the fire. “Too subjective. Too permissive. Too precarious. I’d rather have our legislatures just make some laws.”
God laughed. “No you wouldn’t,” she said. She pulled the card back out of the fire. The flames had done no damage. “Your best decisions are based on love. Your worst are made in anger, driven by fear, greed, revenge, or hatred. It is your body–your one wild and precious life. The laws you need are written in the marrow of your bones. Sorry, but that’s just the way I made you.”
“Bones disintegrate,” I said, still hoping for an easy way out.
“I know,” God said. “But the dust you become is light and beautiful, and the Wind is gentler than you can imagine right now.”