The Eyes of Your Eyes

On the First Day, God said “I am a three-headed monster, a four-toed sloth, five stars, seven heavens, and fifty ways to leave your lover. I am without guile in my slinky nighty and seductive poses. There’s little doubt what I want. And no question I will get it.”

And as soon as I could, I responded.

 “Wow! Is there anything I can do for you?” I may have seemed a little obsequious and I was afraid it was too late.

“Relax,” God said. “You don’t have to sign up—the long arm of evolution conscripted you before time. You’re conscious of being conscious, but you’re distracted by abstractions of yourself. Let me ask you this: Will the eyes of your eyes stay open even as it appears there is nothing left to see?”

Will the eyes of my eyes stay open?

“Probably not,” I confessed. “I don’t even know if they’re open now.” I felt pathetic admitting this, but with God, it’s better to be honest than make promises you can’t keep.

“Do you know what I’ll say on the Last Day?” God asked.

I shook my head.

“Hello, gorgeous,” God said. “I’ll say hello gorgeous. I’ll say hello elements. Hello reformation. Hello darkness. Hello light. I’ll tell myself who I AM again. For your sake. And for mine.”

“And when, exactly, will that be?” I asked, thinking it would be nice to be ready.

God looked at me with sympathy. “Well, for me, it’s Now. And always. First and last are the same to me. But for you, it’s indeterminate. You can decide or it will be decided.”

“But couldn’t you give me a hint?” I begged. “I want to look my best.”

“That’s the spirit!” God exclaimed, beaming. “Look your best.”

The Burden of Autonomy

IMG_4256 (2)

God and I are organizing my mom’s memorial. God keeps writing rhyming poems and trite drivel. This surprises me. One might think God would be a more free verse sort of entity.

“Why are you doing that?” I ask. Rude, perhaps, but this kind of writing seems so constricted and sentimental.

“What’s an uplifting word that rhymes with death?” God asks, chewing on a pencil, ignoring my question.

The word comes out unbidden. “Breath,” I say with a frown.

And then I cry. For three days and three nights, her body breathed on. Brain stem at work, they said. So we waited, and read to her, and sat by her, and combed her hair, and rolled her body gently to and fro. We talked, watched football, played music, and sat. Sat with life as it fought to hold on, sat with death as it waited with us.

She would not have wanted to die that way, but then, she didn’t want to die at all. She wasn’t one to give up. Ever. Her favorite saying was, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Obviously, she wasn’t Buddhist.

“God,” I say. “Why did you keep her alive those last days?”

“I didn’t,” God says, surprised. “She did. You did.”

I shake my head but I know it’s true. God looks on while we ignore basic quality of life issues, and invent ever more life-prolonging machines, medicines, and treatments, and provide them selectively to those with resources. God looks on while we starve and murder, deny help, and blame the poor for their conditions. God looks on while some people rake in millions of dollars as providers of interventions, medications, or insurances, and others go bankrupt trying to save a loved one.

If God fell from scaffolding and broke up his body, would Worker’s Comp fight to minimize the costs of his rehabilitation? Would we deny him Medicaid? If God slipped on the marble floor she was mopping…if God got cancer as a child…if God…

God interrupts. “I did not invent dialysis, chemo, or the electric chair. You did. I don’t set bones, prescribe blood pressure medications, or do CPR. You do. I don’t distribute food, goods, or services—nor do I withhold them. That’s all you.”

“But what about “thy will be done” and all that?” I ask. “Aren’t the fortunate fortunate because of you? Aren’t the rich rich because you blessed them? And the healthy? Isn’t it your will for people to live as long as they possibly can?”

God’s eyes roll and she makes a gagging sound. “No,” she says, steely-eyed. “Absolutely not. I’m sick of being used as an excuse. My will is, frankly, for you all to get a clue. You’re so self-absorbed and short-sighted, I have to repeat myself endlessly. Mercy. Justice. Compassion. Self-sacrifice. Translate those, would you? Your finite lives are your own. You have autonomy. You have choices. Stop blaming me.”

The weight of human prerogative pushes the air from my lungs. I have no reply.

“Breathe,” God says. “Breathe.”