At some point, you submit. If it is happening this way, then it is on purpose, there was never any other order of things. I don’t know what this is, just what it isn’t, and primarily, this is not an accident. I know that is hard to read. I’ve lost people. I’ve failed at things. I know you may have told yourself it was a deviation from the plan, but it wasn’t. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and God what is God’s. And blame for the things we do to one another falls in no way on the divine. Though the humans who use them would have you believe it’s out of their hands, all weapons are shaped for them. A thousand ways to feel washed clean. One form of filth.
The only sin is born in a decision you know you shouldn’t make as you make it. That’s it.
It has always been up to you. No matter how fervently you deny it.
Maybe God made a lumpy rock with saltwater licking shorelines. But it did not invent America. Or life. Or humans. Or the disgusting way a millipede’s legs all work together in waves.
Maybe God invented the perfect atom, brick, building block, with just enough consciousness written within, that this brick is one part mason, one part chemist, one part pragmatic technician, one part way back in the rear, engineer. Brick all the same.
Which would mean we truly own our choices.
Our hardfought, often unnested consequences.
I know this hurts. But we are doing this to ourselves.
I blame God for creating potential.
But this, reality, all of this.
Their religion is seizing.
Clear glass mountain view
eyes rolled back like blinds,
fluttering spring green leaves
in rain bearing wind.
It is not dying.
People are not abandoning it.
But giving it space.
Waiting for the episode to pass.
Wondering how long this one will last.
It has happened before.
It is safe for the church to drive a car.
Or operate heavy machinery.
The theology is heavily medicated and loopy.
Like twisted links of chains upholding a red candle.
Loopy like the redundant circular music.
The hymn and hers mind. Kind. Of. Loopy.
Eyes glazed from the cold outside
and the breath off volunteers
and so much mismanaged time
Mistakes are like Old Testament men with infertile wives. Somehow, even left with no direct route, they find a way to multiply. We thought it was love. And out of love, family. But in reality, it was the other way around. We want family, and also love, so long as it leads to a little one who looks and acts enough like me I don’t feel so final about my final trial. Mistakes will copulate, they will take more wives, servants into deep closets. The progeny of mistakes will begin to ooze out of the woodwork like oil off all the fingers and hands that have touched it throughout the decades.
Mistake begets mistake begets mistake.
And in this way, Adam repopulated the world. And Abraham after him. And so on and Noah afterward. Cutting the foreskin off their boys so all women could recognize them. A nametag of sorts. Hey. Eyes are up here. This isn’t about pleasure. This is repopulation. An old man with a sharp knife saw to that. In a sordid old fashioned way, fixing his own mistake.
I will commit to my mistake, so long as a nonspeaking, unknowable, most importantly, non-human deity demands it of me. I will walk my only sun to the top of the mountain and snuff him out like a distant star between my pointer finger and my thumb.
No I won’t.
I will learn to not make a god out of any entity that makes demands. Any object that seeks to undermine the rules of physics that require we all tire out and die when it comes time, for the sake of a story, for the purpose of proving a point, betrays its own laws and rigid guidelines, fixes them like they were mistakes, like stray dogs, is no God of mine. Is no God at all.
That is what you call poorly developed literary device.
The mountains saw God. And oops.
Their hair turned white. Parted nice and neat
in between full wavering ridgelines combed over into neat clean
albeit dusty looking landscaping. Streaks of dark where evergreen
keeps the whole scene dirtier and salt and peppered. Bovines speckled
like dandruff and the hillside is framed in farmhouses for ears.
Muddy overflowing creeks at the bottoms of powder white mountains.
Electrified, traumatized by the divine presence
streaked white lightning like a skunk’s sour complexion.
Smell it from a corpse on the side of the twisted mountain spine.
Conscious thoughts in cars slow one by one slink up along connecting
traffic circles and overlapping highway junctions to thoroughfares down around
the hips to the mind. Some house in a row of them. This one is mine. My mind.
When it believes it perceives a thing it fails to describe.
A jolt of spirit blown white lights the burning penetrating radioactive kind.
Snow. High of sixty yesterday. Tonight. Oops. Low of nineteen. God.
Love: A line of credit you’ve given very few people access to that has no spending limit, that despite your current situation, one way or a thousand installments after, you will eventually pay the balance.
God: A monosyllabic reminder that Mankind invented language, and when language fails to name something, the fallibility is in the vocabulary, not the universe.
Death: A superpower life discovered early on that allowed us to not just learn from our failures, but eat them up for supper also.
Cruelty: Doing to others, solely without second thought as you have had done to yourself. Severe lack of story. Caught up in some moment. A tangent. The overfermentation of desire. The flex of weakness.
Trust is a sail.
Faith is a paddle.
Hate is what anger becomes when it matures. Be careful not to make an enemy of hate.
The word enemy is a doorway for the hateful. Make them fuss at you through a window,
a good word for that is called a neighbor. Hate is a season. Hate is a debit account.
Once it’s spent it’s done and gone. The overdraft fee on hate is criminal.
“Churches are vessels for memories. God, not so regularly. You get to the afterlife looking for a house of worship, you’ll probably be handed a hammer and nails. We have no evidence whatsoever to believe a divine current running throughout the universe has much if any interest in our buildings.”
Wherever this magically misplaced confidence comes from I’d sure like to know. Wouldn’t we all appreciate the authority to declare when, where, why, what God is or isn’t. Where does he get off, or maybe he never got on, please step down onto the same plain of existence the rest of us all call home. Wake up buddy. God is memory. God is the church. The church is God’s will manifest on earth. What would you have us do, light candles and sit in a circle in the woods and pass around a stick and tell ghost stories. I just hear that kid, the worst kid you can imagine, who nothing is ever good enough for, and he’s invented the best possible hardest to argue excuse to get out of going to church ever. God isn’t even really in there anyway. Meh. Hammer and nails, what does he know about building things, do a lot of carpentry work hiking through the woods hugging trees, do you? Though it is beside the point, because in what world do we go to kids like this for theological pontification and advice, but isn’t their mere existence in the world evidence of God’s interest in buildings? What are humans, I mean, chopped liver, ant hills are still part of nature, why aren’t buildings? Giant, like, I don’t know, termite mounds or some shit. Know what I mean? Of course ‘the divine current’ is interested in that. Get a haircut. Get a job. Wake up take a shower and go to church. It’ll be good for you. We skip over most of the gospel stuff anyhow. Don’t get hung up like Jesus, I mean on Jesus. Let me show you these letters written by Paul.
All this church stuff will start to make a lot more sense.
These are serious questions we’re asking. To no one.
For no reason. Just asking. Deeply insinuates, we do not already understand.
If we took our conscious state as evidence, we’d know the secret of the universe.
Sunlight is confused.
Hydrogen commiserated in the arms of oxygen.
It makes molecules of confusion.
If empty bare bones black space could speak it would sound just like me.
Incapable of the task before it.
Attempting it anyway.
Great capital I It.
All of It.
The answer behind the question we’ve been asking in complete contradiction
of the true state of existence which, by all means, we should have taken at face.
From the start. If we knew, what would we do.
If there was nothing left to ask, why have we all been put to task.
The mere existence of an answer would negate the treasure trove of motivation
uncovered in an unrepentant state of childlike bewilderment and confusion.
Asking all the serious unanswerable questions. Full with so much expectations.
Hope. That this is not the way It really is.
Some better, clearer, simpler destiny must exist. It doesn’t.
It is a carrot dangled dangerously in front of the whiskered nose of a mule.
Is all it takes.
And believe me, we wouldn’t walk again.
Not another step.
There really is no clearer demonstration of how rare it is to call something beautiful
that isn’t also dangerous. One of those unique instances nowadays
that’s impossible to argue with. I mean, look up. It’s that same cluttered,
pupil-shrinking prism for all of us. Weather.
And we fall under it.
What does that tell us?
The tilt of our wonderfully imperfect earth. The pull of the moon, pulled like a rib
from the belly of our world. The storied soil we work on and eat from and take on
yet cry and bemoan any opportunity or demand to give back. Which is inevitable.
It disrespects the dead to fear death this much.
That’s what winter is for. Every year, for a month, or a few, our planet tries to bury us.
Freeze us out. Toughen us up. Shed old leaves and dream and make plans for spring
staring longingly into fires as we listen for kettles to whistle
more eager than dogs do for dinner bells.
Wheels are not really ideal for snow.
Clothing becomes a form of shelter. As much home as one can carry worn like armor.
It can be the difference between a good day and that one day. Extra gloves. Dry socks.
Nature Valley bar. Lukewarm coffee.
It really is the little things that separate being outdoors from hell on earth.
Come equipped. Be stubborn about it. Dress in layers. Prepare for change.
A good nickname for winter. Change. Different.
Roll with the punches off a rolling earth.
Be buried up in ice and frozen rain and dig a way out.
By the shovelful. Claw with bare hands if you have to.
A pretty titanic lesson that’s been working on me over the past year.
Which events of life am I truly willing to let deter me. Cold? Rain? Snow?
Were these elements not in the forecast when I set my plans. My intentions.
Yes. Of course they were.
These seasons have been forecast for millennia.
Put your boots on and play in them. Shovel out the drive and go adventuring.
Leave some tracks in something that was pristine when you first got there.
Perfect. Clean. And powder. Like paper. Put a story in it.
The greatest form of flattery is imitation.
So show winter it is not the only one of us who is willing to change.
Say to the earth, this is how I roll.
I, like you, stop for nothing.
Nobody here was born ready. None of us came equipped,
or hit the ground running. Yet, you are here. I want to ask a question.
But I would like to invoke God first. Hey. You old God. Why is anybody afraid to die?
That’s why we all came here today. Isn’t it. The promise in baptism. Eternal life.
You don’t have to say it, I am too, so I’ll say it for you. I’m afraid.
Of what I feel. When I look at that child. I confess. I am terrified of true love.
That is how I know it is real. How I know to recognize it. Same as you. Old God.
Now that I think about it. Being in the presence of a higher power.
I know no greater terror.
And I just used a lot of words to say I am afraid of a baby.
That one. No teeth. No claws. Relatively small. Barely any hair.
Can’t move too well, or stand, or on his own, go anywhere.
He smells like purity. Right up until he doesn’t.
Only eats one thing, too much, and spits up.
And cries like a tomcat with a little juicy smile
sandwiched between his cheeks. You old God.
You did all this, I mean the miles that sit of great slippery glittery stepping stone
only eyes can step on, that big sopping wet lake, and the amount of land it takes
to call bodies of water like that lakes. And the scariest thing in the world
to me is that little precious lump right there?
Really buried the hook in that one, didn’t you.
It took every second of this much time for me to realize
just what we’re so afraid of losing to make us yearn this much for something
like making an eternal living. I see it, in his eyes.
How much it means, to us, to see our children baptized.
Wakes us up.
Like a splash of cold water.
Like becoming a father.
For the first time.
Nobody here was ready for it.
Not one of us came equipped to be a parent.
And yet, here we are.
I am hypnotized by blue skies. I am cold beer at noon. I am fire, and in the other hand, I am ice. Somehow, I am holding the two together. And neither is reduced by the presence of the other one. I am scared by my own happiness. To possess a thing so precious. As a smile. I am afraid of what it speaks. To others. Who will believe contentment makes me weak. Drunk. Perceptible. And I am. But I don’t want them to know I am.
Flowers that bloomed and wilted in fields never witnessed by the feet of men or women.
I am the best water you have ever tasted. Pouring from a permanent spring in the mountains. Every drop. Wasted.
Sometimes when I eat good food, I taste my neighbor’s hunger soon after. Call it guilt. In my gut. There are some essentials I don’t want, unless my neighbor has them also. But if my neighbor wants what is mine in spite of my need. I will be war. I am the answer to that ancient prayer, something something or other about how we treat one another. It is not axiom.
It is not advice. It is basic, universal, physical and primeval law.
This entire experience we call life has one clear singular inarguable purpose. Balance.
It doesn’t make sense if it was meant to be all good and this is what it is. And sitting where I am right now, though I know it will change somehow, I can not tolerate the thought it is all bad. Even if it’s just me. This child. That dog. Sitting in this little well insulated box on the edge of a great glacial lake. Enjoying the long awaited sun. This scene means the universe can’t be all bad. Or all wrong.
I farm the fabric of the existence. I am the great great great grandchild of two polar opposites. Inexorably attracted. We are all what happened when they finally banged together. We’re the universe’s passion child. We don’t make sense. Because we’re screaming at the top of our lungs love babies. Illegitimate children. And yet, here we are, unmistakably living.