The only reason I have any faith at all is that the alternatives are worse. That, and the incessant presence of this thing I call God bugging me, day and night, my face in her hands. My thoughts invaded, emotions mirrored, breath punched repeatedly out of my gut, eyes stinging, heart heavy. Is this any way to live?
“Hey,” God protests, perched like a bird on a very small branch. “I can hear you, you know.”
“Oh, I know,” I say. “I know.” I look the beast in the eye. “But it doesn’t matter, does it? There’s nothing I could think or say that would make you disappear anyway, right? Vamoose, God. Come here, God. Take a bullet for me, God. Cure me, God. Kill the bad guys, God. Elevate the good guys, make my team win, get me some of that human elixir, revenge. Okay, God? Okay?”
Human prayers—my prayers—flawed. Arrogant. The sheen of innocence rubbed raw by the abrasive sandpaper of reality. For instance, there are people in my life, people in the news, people on the street—all waiting around in my mind in case I muster the strength to love them. But I don’t want to love them. In fact, I wish some of them dead and gone.
“Hey,” God says quietly. “I can still hear you, you know.”
“Oh, I know,” I say. “But that’s your problem.” I offer God my ear buds. “Take a break if you’d like.”
I howl like a wolf, snarl like a jaguar, scream like prey being eaten. I consider the various abdications or aggressions at my disposal. God is an excuse, a drug, a cult leader, a fairy tale, a haven for the vicious and the weak. In the name of God, we’ve tortured, killed, subjugated, taken our fill of the first fruits, grown fat, hateful, and smug.
“Hey,” God whispers from the smallest place. “The ear buds are nice, but I can still hear you. It’s from the inside.”
“Oh, I know,” I whisper back, my voice hoarse, my throat on fire. “I know.”
The day begins despite my protests and misgivings. Morning is rolling across the hills, quivering with the potential of the moment lived, mine for the taking. If I leave it untouched, can it be returned? If I put my soul in my backpack and run for my life, can I escape?
“Hey,” God says without making a sound. “Can you hear me?”
“Yes,” I admit. “But with really good earbuds, I keep hoping…”
“Oh, I know,” God says. “I know.”