In the basement there’s a machine that lets me hang upside down to improve my spine. Today I overdid it to the point of complete disequilibrium. I managed to pull myself upright and crawl up the stairs, but my eyes will not hold their focus because sinus pressures are distorting their shape. The world is falling around me at odd angles, and I have to look straight ahead, or I will vomit. The inversion of perception can seriously confuse the inner ear.
Three more books on suicide, death, and dying arrived yesterday. God and I have started a book club, but we’ve limited our membership to the two of us. Digging into death is as disorienting as hanging upside down. Even God looks queasy when we consider the ramifications of human mythology and cruelty, vulnerability and stupidity.
“Let’s skip our assigned reading for today,” God says. “We can go for a nice walk. You don’t look well, and I’m tired of the topic. It’s intense. Here. Let me hold your elbow.”
I give God a look intended to communicate both agreement and accusation. Tough topic. His fault—as in who invented death?
“Not invented,” God says. “Byproduct.”
“Of what?” I already know the answer, but I like it when God gets all cosmic and chatty.
“Creation. Consciousness. You see death as an end. I see it as the rearranging of raw materials and all that was learned along the way. I waste nothing. I am within. Without. Over. Under. Throughout.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I say. “Big talk. But you don’t like the outcome of human foibling any better than I do. I’ve seen you in excruciating pain. I’ve seen you die with a knee on your neck.”
“No, you haven’t,” God says.
“Yes, I have,” I say. I don’t always recognize God when I see him, but I was pretty sure about this one.
“Okay, yes, but what you’ve seen is me sharing the pain. Shared pain. You haven’t seen me in my own pain. Not possible. Not sharable. Not visible. The size and magnitude of my pain is beyond your ability to perceive just yet. Your word for it is pain. Mine is love.”
The iris buds are swelling. They will bloom soon. I found the bulbs discarded in an alley. In this small truth I take refuge.