Spending and Spent

Saved time is not insured by the FDIC because there is no such thing. Saved time is just time used differently. Your supply dwindles no matter how you choose to spend it.

“True. How are you going to use yours today?” God popped in, casual as a neighbor.

“I’m going to stare out the window and resent incursions into my space or thoughts.” I crossed my arms, wishing God would give me a little more warning sometimes. God laughed, but then did a double-take.

“Wait. Are you talking about me?”

“Of course not!” I protested vigorously. “Feeling a little insecure? You’re the reason I wait. You’re not an incursion; you’re magic. Granted, it’s dark, rude magic sometimes. But mostly welcome.” My voice may have revealed a touch of ambivalence.

“Mostly?” God teased, unfazed and clearly not insecure.

“Yeah. It depends on mirrors, memories, seasons. It depends on how ready I am to be one with the universe, to be confident that life has meaning, to accept my fate gracefully. Stuff like that.”

“Makes sense,” God said. “I don’t mind being quiet once in a while.”

“That’s not what I mean. I don’t want YOU to be quiet. Be loud. Beat the drums. Fling a double rainbow around your neck. Grow vast fields of grain. Hatch eggs. Lift off with the latest telescope or dive down into your oceans and find what’s dying. Heal things.”

“My, my,” God said, facetiously. “Those are some tall orders.”

“I know,” I admitted. “But it’s best if we all keep busy. Especially you.”

“Wait,” God laughed again. “A minute ago, you were planning to stare out the window all day.”

“Yeah. Well, Emerson said ‘A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’. And remember? I said I was waiting for you.”

But was I? Anyone who’s tried waiting around for The Real to reveal itself, for the Self to gather strength, for the soul to lead, for the heart to extend compassion knows it is a fraught undertaking. Some of us pretend uncertainty so we don’t have to do the good work right in front of us. Others are mean and selfish in the name of a contrived and certain god.

Real God slapped her legs and stood. “I’ll take you at your word,” she said. “The wait’s over. Let’s go.”

I lowered the leg rest on my recliner, took God’s bony black hand, and said, “Fine. What wonders will we work today? What miracles will we perform?”

God punched my shoulder, “Let’s start with being nice,” she said. “Then we’ll see what else might be possible.”

On the Face of It

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The most disconcerting image of God any of us has to deal with is the one in the bleary mirror every morning. True, God appears in a lot of unsavory, overwhelming, challenging guises. She flies in on a broomstick with a stolen dog, her backpack filled with ruby red slippers. He spreads himself brilliant across the evening sky and sprinkles himself into a billion stars He cries like a baby. With a hammer in her huge hands, she takes down wall after wall. I like watching. I like an arm’s-length God. But I don’t like that image of God in the mirror–that fatally flawed stretch of skin and bones I know from the inside out.

Sometimes, I try to avoid eye contact. Other times, I look for the innocence that was once there. I think I see vestiges of something beyond, but it’s elusive. Of course, I see my mother, my children, that genetic overlay. There are scars. Errant eyebrows. In my eyes, the piercing steely blue of the Irish.

“Hello,” I said to the mirror this morning. I do this sometimes. It creates a little distance. But for some reason, I added, “How can I be of service today?”

And to my surprise, my face answered.

“This day won’t be back,” it said. “This day is a guest. Be kind to it. This day will be a progression of sojourning moments, hoping for your attention. Remember, you are crystalized time.”

“Say what?” I said. “Crystalized what?”

“Time,” my face said. “You embody a fraction of the cosmos for a miniscule, monumental flash of linearity. And I must say, you wear it well.”

“Why, thank you,” I said back to my face. “But you know that’s not true.” I pointed to the worst of my imperfections. My face laughed. “You poor thing,” it said. “Those are your best features. Proof of your existence. Like I said, you’re crystalized time. And time is a craggy, wizened old thing. It likes nothing better than transporting imperfections into eternity where they are fodder for the greater good.”

“I didn’t sign on for this,” I said. But my face lifted into a smile, and I knew that in fact, I had signed on for this. For this day. For this chance. I inventoried my defects and damages, circling them like wagons around my fears. Then I enhanced the patchy curve of my eyebrows with a sharp clear line, removed some unwanted facial hair, and blew myself a kiss.

“Let’s roll, gentlemen,” I said to God and the pretty little moments at my feet. “We’ve got this.”