Covid God

farm workersImage from National Center for Farm Worker Health

John and I have been trying to make some short upbeat videos for people struggling with our current global crisis. I’ve asked God if she wants to sit in or be of any help at all, but as the song says “…I get no offers. Just a come-on from the whores on 7th avenue…” Paul Simon knew back then, sometimes we get so lonesome, we take some comfort there—from the lesser ones. The ones whose bodies are for sale—or whose lives are always on the front lines to feed and serve us.

“I love that song,” God says, suddenly overly present. “And I love that line about how a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

“Well. Hello, God,” I say, more exasperated than surprised. “Where’ve you been?”

“The usual,” God says. I take a closer look. She doesn’t look well. She’s got a ridiculous looking homemade mask on her face. She coughs. “I’ve decided to forgo the ventilator,” she says. “I’m definitely old enough to be in the high risk group, but I think I can beat this thing…and if not…” She shrugs and sits down, winded and gray. I back up six feet. She looks up and nods.

“Yes, go wash your hands,” she says. “Wash your hands of me. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” I say. There’s no point in lying to God. “You make me crazy mad. I don’t understand how you suffer with those who suffer, rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Are you God or are you not?”

“Up to you,” God says, struggling to take a breath.

“Lie down,” I say, fluffing a pillow. I run to scrub up and get a mask. She’s stretched out, eyes closed. I put God’s head in my lap, and with gloved hands, I touch her sweaty forehead. “Can I get you anything at all?” I whisper. She opens her fever-glazed eyes and looks into my soul. I can see it takes a lot of effort. She says nothing. She just looks straight into my center for as long as either of us can stand. She touches her chest. A wave of nausea hits me as I realize the entire earth is short of breath. “Feels like a ton of bricks,” she murmurs.

I give her a sip of water. It’s all I have.

Feet on the Ground

imported from the camera april 2014 413 (2)

“Crowd in here, God,” I said, patting a narrow spot on the couch. It seemed unlikely anyone would notice; there was child-induced mayhem in the air. It involved a lot of bouncing, simultaneous verbalizations some would call clamor, and wonderment in abundance. These energies were sandwiched between adult conversations and consternations. I wasn’t sure which level God would prefer, but I wanted to be hospitable.

“Uh, sure. Thanks,” God said, distracted, like maybe a couple billion others right now. Distracted. Tempted to discount, deny, whine, or freak completely out. Not God, but maybe the rest of us on those last descriptors. “Are you ready to die?” I asked myself. “Of course,” I told myself. And in some ways, this is true. I’ve had an extraordinary life. In no way do I deserve anything further, and in some ways, I don’t want anything further. But then, it isn’t about deserving, is it?

My elbow hurts—the result of ever declining proprioception and the mysterious narrowing of doorways just as I’m squeezing a table through. My sense of importance in the world has suffered, leading to a fair amount of indignation. My little personal values are all askew, and I don’t want to straighten them out. “Lean times,” I whispered to God. “I could use some help getting my feet under me.”

“Fuck that,” God said. Well. This caught me a bit off-guard. God continued, “Your feet are down there where they should be. Mop the floor. Do the dishes. Brush the dog. Observe. Think. Settle.”

“Hey!” I protested God’s language, hoping to ignore the content. “There are children present.”

“They’re busy,” God said, but the room emptied into God and me, perhaps signaling the importance of our conversation. “Your life is a whisper, little one,” God said. “Even the lives you think are big, important…they are flickering flames in a variable wind. Don’t be envious. Sit yourself down when you need to. Observe. Think. Settle.”

“But I want to know I’m loved,” I said. “I want to matter.”

“You are. You do.”

“But I want proof,” I demanded.

“Fuck that,” God said again. “I’ve done all I can on that score.”  This was said without malice. In fact, there was a hint of a chuckle in his voice, and I caught God’s eyes twinkling. From a certain perspective, the absurdity of my fretting was hilarious, and we laughed. Threw back our heads and laughed. Laughed louder than the river, the owls, the barking dogs. We laughed belly laughs until we were crying, and we just kept laughing. I breathed in some ragged air. Clean air, as far as I know.

“Oh, wow,” I said. “I needed that.”

“Yes,” God said. “You did.”