I Eat Your Joy for Breakfast

God is indulging in a morning nap, sound asleep on a weathered recliner near the garden shed. I’ve noticed that God can sleep pretty much anywhere. But I’m awake and agitated, stewing about climate change, greed, cruelty, and the limited hours at the landfill.

I clear my throat and speak loudly enough to wake anyone within ear shot. “Someone took a huge gamble when they introduced creativity and choice into their evolutionary efforts.”

God startles and sits up. “What now?” he says, rubbing his eyes, raking his fingers through his holy bedhead hair.

“Creativity,” I say. “The bored human is often a deadly human. We need to create and change things up. But then we compare. We get insecure and try to make ourselves more beautiful and have too many children and accumulate vastly more than we need. This leads to overpopulation, scarcity, and war.”

God swings his legs to the side of the recliner, stretches, and groans. “You’re so right. It’s a huge gamble. And yeah, it hasn’t gone that well so far. But it isn’t over.” He sees my scowl and adds, “I mean it’s always over, and it always isn’t.”

He lays back down, situates his hat over his eyes, and pats the space beside him. I perch on the edge. I do not know how to relate to this complacent, laissez-faire God.

“Blur,” he says in a languid voice. “Blur, mingle, melt.”

He means let go. He means he’ll carry me for a while. He intends to be a source of comfort.

“I can’t blur,” I whisper. “I know you have your ways, but I want to do something on my own. I want to make my mark.”

God sits back up. “And there you have it,” he declares.

The profound irony of what I just said hangs in the air between us.

God sighs. “You are still adolescent apes; you need to play. But your marks will all wash away. Remember, the lasting measure of worth is compassion.”

I look down at my hands. God continues. “And the nature of mercy is upside down. The gluttonous will eventually fast. The lips of liars will be purified. It’s all about balance.” He winks and adds, “When you get it right, I eat your joy for breakfast. It’s delicious.”

I stare across the expanse of my life. Finally, I say, “And when you speak, I stir-fry your words for dinner. They’re tasty.” “Fair enough,” God smiles. “That makes me happy.” But as he drifts back to oblivion, I hear him mutter, “Or at least I think it does.”

Missive from the Beautiful, Horrible Moment

Every morning I sit in the warm, chunky soup of God, my attention split between robins in the garden, clouds on the move, and my fingers poised above the keyboard. God appreciates the opportunity to clown around, but sometimes they take it too far, and I feel left out.

I want God to notice me. I eat dandelions. I pull clumps of quack grass, pretending there’s a chance to eradicate this long-rooted invader. Quack grass is also known as twitch, quick grass, quitch grass, scutch, dog grass and witchgrass. My own pet name for it is Satan. On more generous mornings, I allow for the possibility that it has redemptive features. Not today.

“How about we all float on our backs?” God suggests, flailing happily in the womblike liquid of themselves, ignoring boundaries such as time and space.

I shake my head. The steady pressure of God is eroding my body. The Ever-Presence is a weighted blanket, a hazmat suit, an open invitation to find peace in what is true. I am not a maker of stars, but I am my own tornado. While I’m still able, I will continue spinning through the garden, yanking quack grass to kingdom come.

All the faces of God smile. “Look!” they say. The arms of God bend, fingers pointing every possible direction. I have no idea where to look.

“You’re too inclusive. Too amped. Could we bring it down a notch?” I ask petulantly.

The many fists of God punch the air, and their faces melt like candles into a singular pool where I see my singular reflection and consider my singular fate. The robins appear to be flirting, ready to mate. The aroma of God is intoxicating, but even so, my stiff hands won’t curl around the quack grass anymore.

My friends and family are floating on nearby rivers, hiking their own circuitous trails, and I wish them well. I wish myself well. I wish God well—the Unitary, the Complex, the Galactic–all of them.

“Thank you,” they say harmonically.

“You’re welcome,” I say automatically.

“That’s unlikely,” they laugh. “Our welcome is usually, um, shall we say overstated?”

I nod. “Well, you’re more welcome than quack grass.”

They grin, poking each other in the side. “Score! We’re more welcome than quack grass.”

I realize God is making fun of me, so I issue a slight retraction. “Actually, that’s not entirely true. Depends on the day.”

Short Podcast With You-Know-Who

Podcaster: Thanks for agreeing to be on my podcast.

God: Glad to be here, but why now?

Podcaster: Well, after spending some years as an atheist, Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office) has declared he believes you exist. That’s big. So I thought I’d get you on. Boost my ratings. Go viral.

God: Ah, now I get it. Rainn wrote a nice book, and he’s got a million followers.

Podcaster: Yeah, and his God hasn’t endorsed any massacres or sacrifices. Can you say the same for yourself?

God: Of course.

Podcaster: What’s your name again? I may have you mixed up with a more violent, judgmental God.

God: Understandable. My real name is not something you could understand or even pronounce. You people use a lot of nicknames. Approximations.

Podcaster: Are you the one who guarantees an afterlife but only under certain conditions?

God: Nope.

Podcaster: Are you the one in favor of people killing other people, like in self-defense, or war?

God: Nope.

Podcaster: Are you the one who devalues women? Hates gays? Insists on pregnancies brought to term?

God: Nope.

Podcaster: Are you the one who wants to be praised all the time? Elevated? Worshipped?

God: Nope.

Podcaster: I’m not sure you’re really God. Do you have some commandments or something to prove it?

God: Yep.

Podcaster: Well, that’s a relief. Are there ten of them?

God: Nope. Only two. And they’re for your own good, not mine.

Podcaster: And these are?

God: Love me and love your neighbor as yourself.

Podcaster: That’s a problem right there. You won’t even say who you are. How can I love you?

God: Well, let’s assume I created you and basically everything seen and unseen, and I infused it all with love. Kind of like a perfect mother, if there was such a thing.

Podcaster: Big assumption.

God: Yeah. Well, how about that neighbor thing?

Podcaster: Um, let’s drill down on that. I think I could love a few, select neighbors. Is that enough?

God: Nope.

Podcaster: Do you have any suggestions for how to do that comprehensive love thing?

God: (sighing) Crack open your puny chest, pry open your stubborn mind. Die instead of kill. Lay down your weapons. Cheerfully give all you can give. Find joy instead of fault. Be still. Tender. Humble. Awake.

Podcaster: (snapping God’s microphone off) And that’s it for today, folks. Tune in tomorrow for a rebuttal, led by a panel of experts: The Rich, Lucifer, Judas, Adam, Eve, Kali, Coyote, and others who’ve let their lower natures run amok.

God: (gently touching the cheek of the Podcaster) Got a minute?

Podcaster: (recoiling) Nope.


Due to my astigmatism, I wore hard contact lenses early in life, and those darn little things were easy to lose. It took a long time to get a replacement, so I’d wear the remaining lens and become a one-eyed wonder until the new one arrived. This practice trained my brain to be tolerant of monovision—one eye feeds tolerably clear visual information into the brain while the other contributes only fuzzy approximations.

Decades later I had laser surgery and made this arrangement permanent. One eye tells me about things further away. The other allows me to read without glasses. I suspect my brain works overtime to sort this out, but I’m not conscious of that effort.

Monovision is cool. By simply closing one eye, I can remind myself nothing is ever exactly as it seems. My take on reality is based on the way I see things, but it’s not the whole picture. It’s just one view.

“Right on!” God chimed in as I was mulling this recently. “You would not believe how I look to a housefly.”

“True,” I said. “I don’t even believe how you look to me.”

“Is that so?” God asked. “I thought we were on better terms.”

I closed my left eye. Then the right. I tipped my head and considered looking at God upside down, but the thought made me queasy.

“What are you seeing?” God asked.

“Oh, the usual. Needs, vacancies, denial, anger, fear.”

“No, I mean what do I look like?”

“Old. Improbable. Vast. I wish you looked softer and safer, but you’re too vague.”

“Are all your eyes open?”

“I think so.”

“You’re wrong,” the Ultimate Optometrist said. “But I know you’re trying. Let me adjust these lenses for you.”

“No!” I yelled and backed away. Who wants God adjusting the way they see things? In my haste, I failed to glance behind, so I tripped and fell.

God rushed to my side and helped me up. “Are you hurt?” she asked.

I wasn’t sure how to answer. My pride was bruised, my fears, fully activated, my body felt fragile and clumsy, but was I hurt?

“That depends on what you mean by hurt,” I said finally. Then with my two eyes open, I looked straight at what I see to be God and added, “Are you real?”            

“Oh, I love how you set me up,” God chuckled affectionately. “That depends on what you mean by God.”