“You realize America was not my idea, right?” God said. It was more a statement than a question—a comment likely brought on by my sense of alienation and dismay at our current national struggles.
“Duh,” I answered. “That’s painfully clear. I’m not blaming you.” I was washing the dishes with hot, soapy water. “It wasn’t my idea either,” I added.
The radio was on in the background, the ongoing absurdities in the news were ruining my evening. When you’re chatting with God, perspectives shift. The phrase “America First” is revealed for what it is: a puny, frightened declaration of selfishness that flaps defiant and pathetic in the gentle breath of God.
“You know we’re a defective species, right?” I said. I was in a very bad mood.
“Duh,” God answered. “That’s painfully clear.” God began drying the plates with little microbursts of warmth. “And I don’t blame you,” God added. “The blame game is a real dead end. Better to focus on hope.”
“Easy for you to say,” I said. “I got nothing.”
“Well, I think there’s a chance you’ll figure it out,” God said cheerfully. “You people divide yourselves up in the oddest ways. I admire your ingenuity, though it’s tragically misused. The us/them game is far more dangerous than the blame game. But…maybe, maybe. I don’t know. Maybe you’ll realize how damaging these artificial divisions are and stop scaring the pants off yourselves all the time.”
I thought about my fears and my meager progress at overcoming them.
“How’s your throat?” God asked. John and I had just spent six hours driving across the state in the smoke-infused cab of an old box truck we temporarily acquired as an act of charity. Or at least that’s what we think we did.
“Sore,” I answered. This was true. My head hurt and my clothes smelled atrocious.
“Kindness has a price tag,” God said. “Love is messy. Sometimes ugly. Sometimes deadly.”
I’d had enough. “God,” I said in the most patient voice I could muster. “I’m sorry, but I’m not in the mood for this. I’m tired. I feel sorry for myself. It’s cold in here, and I’m homesick for my younger self, when optimism was easier and endings weren’t so often or so clear.”
“I hear you,” God said. “I’m actually not in the mood either. I’m lonely and much older than you can even conjure. Very little agrees with me. Nothing tastes quite right. I’m often as miserable as you are. And for me, there’s no such thing as an ending. Maybe you should be grateful.”
“Yeah, maybe,” I said. “But I’m not.”
We gave each other a halfhearted hug and parted ways–meaning I shut down while God expanded into the ink-black ocean of all that has ever been. I slept soundly in a threadbare hammock suspended between finality and the eternal. Not safe, but somehow, secure.