“Sometimes, your species is hard for me,” God said, looking a little haggard.
“I know,” I nodded. “I don’t like people that well either. But it’s hard to write them off entirely.”
“Yeah,” God agreed. “I often wonder what makes me hang in there.” She paused. I waited. “It might be the gratitude,” she said finally. “Humans are capable of saying thanks in a way that warms my heart. Nothing quite like it.”
“Gratitude?” I asked. “You like that better than when they apologize?”
God chuckled. Her corporealness was starting to fray. “Are you a worthy representative of all humanity?” she asked in an impish voice, a luminescent grin taking over what was left of her face.
“No.” I shook my head emphatically. This was a trick question.
The grin expanded. “Oh, no worries. You’ll do. Tell me how you feel when you’ve messed up and need to say you’re sorry.”
I grimace. Confession of sins? Facing faults and shortcomings? Asking forgiveness? Not easy. Not fun.
“You already know this,” I said, giving God a look. “I hate failing and being wrong. I do not like needing to apologize.” I looked down at my hands and stopped talking, but in my mind, I went further. It’s complicated. I have my pride. Once in a while, I get stubborn and lie to myself or other people. And I blame others and feel sorry for myself…but I didn’t want to mention that to God.
The eyes of God looked upon my soul. “My point, exactly,” she said. “People often make the same mistakes and sometimes, show up again, woeful and defeated. Or they get defensive and act like they’re not wrong after all. I accept apologies all day long, but I don’t enjoy the process, and I don’t think people do either.”
God looked at her own hands, cracked a thousand arthritic knuckles, and stood into the stratosphere of herself. She wrapped the cloak of unknowability around her shoulders and set the sky on fire. “So, that’s why I like gratitude better than penance,” she concluded.
“But how do you know it’s sincere?” I asked, but there would be no answer. The room, the land, the cities, the earth—everything had become one big party.
God was center stage, doing an Irish jig. Darlings and demons cavorted across galactic dance floors, and all creation clapped and stomped, keeping the intricate beat alive. “Gratitude’s an attitude. Fake it ‘til you make it,” they sang. I couldn’t see who was playing the frenetic fiddle, but I did not want to join this ridiculous reverie. I needed some space, and God knew it. The scene receded and God’s merciful arms surrounded me. Only me.
“Go in peace,” she said, dismissing me to my quiet place.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
“You’re welcome,” God said. We both meant it.