Today, I am rightfully and terribly sad because nice white adults who would rather live in a democracy are being fired upon, herded, overtaken, terrorized, and killed by a vicious dictator. Likely by the time you read this, the death toll will have reached 1000—maybe far more. And in that same timespan, 30,000 children (mostly not white) will have died of starvation or malnutrition in so-called developing countries. And the poisoning of the planet will have accelerated. Those tanks are not powered by the sun.
My own children are grown and well-fed. At least for now, I live in a democratic republic and can freely express myself. My little corner of the globe is stunningly beautiful. On some days, I am grudgingly grateful. But often, my good fortune makes me want to spiritually disembowel myself. The dentist assures me my teeth look fine, but I think she’s lying. Deep in the night, I imagine I am gnashing my molars down to the gum.
In times like these, God often asks, “Do you want to believe in me at all anymore?” And I say, “Well, yes and no. Mostly no.” And God nods understandingly and pats my head. I yank her arthritic hand away. “Save it for someone who needs it,” I say. And she says okay and sits there on the orange couch waiting for me to realize I am among those who need it. I consider the utter impossibility of believing in anything and the emptiness of believing in nothing, and I grab the vacuum and run it around the living room like a madwoman. This is funny because I hate vacuuming. God grins and plugs her ears. I’ve always suspected she hates vacuuming, too, but with God it’s hard to say. The invention of the vacuum was supposedly a step toward liberation for enslaved womenkind.
I drive the vacuum straight toward God. She is easily pulled in, traveling down the hose in a lump. For a moment, I feel victorious but then, horrified and alone. I turn the vacuum on myself and down I go, right into the dusty arms of the ever-present, ever-waiting God. “Help!” I shout. “I can’t breathe.”
“Stay calm,” God says and hands me an N95. I mask up. Masking is an act of love. What does it mean to love my neighbor? What does it mean to love myself? What does it mean to love creation? It is a dirty, sad, imperfect process–often thwarted or violently opposed–but the alternatives are so much worse.