This morning, it is my intention to ask for Nothing. Admittedly, I’m not entirely sincere. Someday, maybe. Deep in my soul, I suspect the greatest gift of all is Nothing, but Something is far easier.
Consciously or not, every living being begs, demands, or fights for something: Continued life. Sustenance. Shelter. Justice. Revenge. The right lover. Riches, recognition, health, a big win. And when the lost coin is found, the cancer recedes, there is rejoicing, and God is declared good.
But when the earth quakes or the bomb drops, the rivers flood or starvation takes another child, I see it is better to ask for Nothing. What do we say to the team that didn’t win? To the one not found? To the destitute scrambling for crumbs falling from the tables of the enormously wealthy? To the planet shrugging us off with great loss and pain?
“Are you asking me?” God’s steamy voice rises majestic from the compost pile where microbes are hard at work. Like a startled deer, I run for the hills. God runs alongside, tossing shiny bits of wisdom behind us so I can find my way back when the panic subsides.
At the summit, I collapse on lichen covered sandstone. There is nowhere left to run. The view is spectacular. God has spread itself across the face of the dying earth. Eternal, resilient, generous. I point out the gully where I hope to be buried. God laughs.
“All creation is a churning tomb,” the formless God says. “From whence you will reappear.”
“Are you Nothing or Everything?” I lay back and stare straight up, deflecting from the image of my resurrection as nutrients and organic matter.
“Yes,” answers the Sky. “And so are you.”
I shake my head but God is adamant. “You’re the performance and the applause, achievement and failure, pride and shame. You’re the darkness sacrificed to define light, and you’re the light that leaps into darkness, knowing it will not survive.”
“Sucked in by a black hole?” I ask. “Gone forever?”
God smiles. “Something like that. But not quite. You understand that I’m the place where light goes to rest, right?”
“No,” I say. “I don’t really understand that.”
I pull what’s left of myself together, move toward the day, and instead of Nothing, I ask for very little as I settle into the Unsettled Place of the Holy Dialectic. It isn’t all that comfortable, but I prefer it to the self-righteous mirage of certainty cloaking the willfully deluded, the terrified, and the cruel.
“I like what you’ve done with the place,” God says. “Suits us just fine for now.”