Interruptions

“Have you noticed how often you interrupt me?” God asks, annoyed.

My verbal output may have been somewhat one-sided, driven by holiday agitation. I was holding forth about the ways of the world, all things irritating or ignorant, the costs of blind faith, and how positive and upbeat I think others should be. Including God.

“Sorry,” I say. “Go ahead. I’ll try to listen better.”

“Never mind,” God says. “I forgot what I was going to say anyway.”

Unlikely, I think to myself. How could the Living Word forget what she was going to say? But I sit politely as if I believe her, and she sits politely as if she’s not upset. As if she’s not reading my thoughts. As if people in the Ukraine aren’t very, very cold right now. As if people in my own community aren’t planning how to cheat on taxes and take more than their share. As if goodness and honesty and peace might have a chance.

Managing ourselves, three dogs, and four piglets in subzero weather has made everyone snippy. When it’s this cold, all manner of things can go wrong. Yes, I regularly interrupt God and the natural order, but isn’t that the human story? Most of us don’t want to die of exposure, physical or otherwise. We burn fossil fuels and hide among falsehoods and fairytales.

I follow God’s gaze to one of my many disorganized bookshelves. It’s a motley rainbow of words in shiny covers. I love books. I would get up and touch them, but I don’t want to spoil God’s revery. It’s obvious she finds comfort in the books, the words, the great and mighty abstractions contained in those bound and precious editions. I’m glad we have this in common.

“Do you ever interrupt yourself?” I ask God after our shared silence has run its course.

“Oh, yes,” she nods with a sad look. “Many times. It’s always tragic.”

She turns her hands palms up, stares at the scars, and like George Harrison’s guitar, she begins to gently weep. This always makes me cry.

She looks straight at me, wipes away the tears, and drops us into a bittersweet world where true words are like heirloom seeds; planted and watered, converting light to something verdant, innocent, and delicious. No comforting myths. No lies. No interruptions.

I know we cannot stay, but I give thanks before we return to the inescapable veracity of dogs, pigs, and fire. Mulled wine. Good cheer. In the chaos of Christmas, God and I make eye contact, and despite the contradictions, we vow to be respectfully conversant with this fragmented, freezing world.

When You Don’t Have Ruby Red Slippers

“I’m in no shape to make decisions or small talk today,” God said. “So leave me alone.”

He was doing a very bad job of hiding under the daybed. Drawers were askew, and his feet extended past the base like the protruding feet of the wicked witch of the east, but there were no ruby red slippers, and his socks had holes.  It was laughable.

“What’s up?” I asked in the phony, solicitous voice I use to hide disdain for signs of weakness.

“I’m old,” God said.

I stood silent for a minute and then said, “Ah, yeah. So?”

“And you’re older.”

Again, I stood silent. A great sadness twisted his face. The slippage of time thickened the air and dampened the Christmas gifts and wrapping paper strewn around the room. I don’t like this season, but I force myself to make an effort.

“Stop moping,” I said. “You’re ruining things.”

“Not my fault,” God said, and turned his head toward the wall.

“Yes, it is,” I said. “When you see how bad things are and feel sorry for yourself, you swallow entire star systems without realizing it. People go blind. Mold and mildew thrive. There are great displacements and unsettlings, and no one knows which way is up.”

“No one knows that anyway,” God snapped, still quite out of sorts. “Please just leave me alone.”

I shrugged and eased myself out of the holiness.

Clearly, God needed to lick his wounds, but he’s got the entirety of time and space at his disposal. Why hide in the middle of my half-hearted holiday preparations? Why lash out in such a childish way? So I’m older than God? Ha! It’s true that I often feel that way…

“HELP!” God shouted, interrupting my thoughts. “Come back.”

Like a mother whose child calls out in the night, I ran instinctively toward God’s voice.

“It’s too cold in here,” he said. “And too hot. And I can’t see you. I’m afraid.”

My insides clenched and my familiar internal battles flared. He always asks the impossible. The world is so hot and so cold and so afraid, I often back away, hands raised in denial and defeat.

But here’s the worst of it; he backs away with me. He seems to enjoy the surrender. The picnics, the doodles, the badly wrapped second-hand gifts. He joins in the revelry and drinks all the wine. He laughs with his mouth full, and bits of food twinkle in the holiday air like strings of light.

Such intensity, such accompaniment has to be exhausting. Maybe that’s why I find God hiding under the daybed occasionally. I should probably be more patient.