Take away the noise. The voice. The rippled ocean in the air. So that we are all ears. So that no one can hear. Except through the soles of their feet. Don’t pray with fingers intertwined but toes touching. Take a seat. Flee the heat. Fleet week. Anarchists in sailor’s uniforms. Soldiers by day, villains on the web. Spiders say thank you for your service while thinking damn I’m glad I’m not you, and I would send you into hell to save only the shadow of myself. Silhouetted soldiers on a bumper sticker on her car. It’s just a job. No one takes you so seriously as you do. No one is supposed to. Everyone will lie to your face and deny it under torture and declare they are honest. But in earnest, they disbelieve in the existence of the thing called truth. Some philosophical fragment encountered in their youth cautioned them into chaos. If education manufactured silent spaces, simply sought to take away the noise, no one would disbelieve the concept of truth.
Swear on the past, equivocate the present, and promises for the future suture up the time in between. But no matter where you are looking, the proof is in the pudding. Can you imagine, coming to God, the real God, the only one we’ve got, having killed, murdered, in preservation of your own survival, and in reflecting on your own story, you can’t articulate the purpose of your life, the good you’ve done, the mountains you moved, nothing. You fought a war or sent soldiers into fire to save a forest you never explored. If a villain approached you with a blade and swore to end your life and you took nothing from them but the blade, you’d go to heaven with the real God there greeting you, beer mugs in both hands. If you went out on a frozen winter night and laid down in the woods and breathed in the roaring frothing air until it made you ice on the inside, God waits at the trailhead of your next adventure holding two glasses of wine. Take the pain because the pain came from the same thing the joy did and you’ll be there with all the ones you ever loved clutching sticky flutes of champagne.
But if you go the other way, if you commit to kill a stranger because you are afraid to die, you could not enter heaven even cradled in the arm-crib of God itself. Even if that stranger was evil. It does not matter. The act of not desperately avoiding death would save a life, no matter the consequences, makes a better story. If you kill to stay alive, you better be able to articulate why. Why you. Why life. Life is an inheritance, not a recompense. You did nothing to deserve or earn this status. Killing picks up stones in the footbed of your soul. Which accrue, and grow, to become the very anchor that keeps you from ascending to the life that follows after life. You will be trapped in your own cocoon. Never taste nectar. Die a fat, insatiable caterpillar belly full of leaves, farmers cursing your name and gifting you blame.
You call death what nature calls change.
You are the powerful one in this equation.
God is a third person omniscient narrator.
A disembodied voice offering us this choice.
You be my life after death, and I’ll be yours.