To begin my morning wrestling match, I typed the word gone and then backspaced it out of existence and then typed it again. It sits on my screen, a fragile, arrogant four-letter word with its dukes up, ready to go a round or two with denial. But here’s the truth: I can make it disappear and reappear the rest of the day if I’m so inclined. I am more or less in command of my words. This is comforting. Sobering.
Spoken or recorded, words can linger beyond the speaker or the author. We fawn over first words. Cherish the last. The words in between muddle along, hurting, encouraging, freeing, frightening, disguising, delighting, warning, elucidating, lying, and shaping whatever they touch.
“Hello,” God says. “What have we here?”
“Me, muddling,” I say. “Thanks for interrupting. It was getting weird in my head.”
“Gone can do that,” God says. “Try go or going instead. More energized and hopeful. For now, that’s probably better for you.”
“Don’t pamper me.”.
God looks surprised. “Why not?”
“I want to be tough enough to handle it on my own.”
“You know. Goneness. Endings. Closures. Failures.”
“Oh good grief.” God digs his fingers into my shoulders. “Listen.”
The rumble of a gravel truck. The neighbor’s choice of music. Birds singing. Fire crackling. Familiar sounds.
“Good,” God says. “Can you bring any of that back and hear it over?”
“Well,” I say with a grin. “That truck won’t make those exact sounds again, but I think Pandora is on replay next door.”
This cracks God up. “Ha ha! Pandora. Good one. So you think your playlists will save you?”
I look at God like he’s lost his mind. I shake my head and try to turn my back which is silly. There is no back.
“And there is no gone,” God says gently. “There’s nothing but Now. Type that.”
“I just did.”
“Good. What you think is solid, what you think is redundant, what you think will last, it’s all just Now.
“But wouldn’t it be great if words could pass through into forever?”
“Actually, there’s one word that does that,” God says.
“I suppose you mean Now,” I say.
“Nope,” God says. “It’s my favorite name—quite difficult to translate. In your native tongue, the closest you’ve got is love.”
I dig my fingers into God’s shoulders and in my most serious, sad voice, I say, “God, love is what makes gone so painful.”
“I’m fully aware of that,” God says, equally sad and serious. “But the alternatives are worse.”