how good is the good god.

her atheist friends vehemently proclaim that there is no god. she doesn't like them, and for that reason, she thinks to herself, there must be some higher power. it's foolish to think otherwise. and then her christian friends proclaim the goodness of god and all his creations. she likes them, and for that reason, she thinks to herself, there probably is no god. who are they kidding?

sometimes he thinks he's talking to god. it's right before he goes to bed. he's not praying, exactly. he used to pray; he used to pray a lot. but now it's guidance he's searching for, and sometimes, he swears that god is listening and that god is talking to him. he asks simple things, like what must i do to become a good person? what must i do to have peace of mind? he waits, patiently. sometimes it takes an entire night. and then, slowly, the words enter his mind, and they seem satisfactory. so satisfactory, in fact, that he could not have possibly made them up. for the moment, he's swept up in the idea of a guardian angel and others: mother mary, wise men, holy men, and happy people dancing.

alas, morning comes, and there is no more glory, no more beatific visions, no distinct communication with the holy one. the answers, which were once so perfectly clear, so life-changing, turned to dust, and have become nothing more than a pleasant dream forgotten. he can't tell people that he talked to god. look what becomes of the others who claim such nonsense: martyred, institutionalized, saved. he doesn't want that. he's not looking to be saved. all he wanted was for god, or this idea of god, to be a personal, sacred thing. not something bought and sold, or discussed, debated, and analyzed endlessly on am radio and sunday morning television.

god wasn't about putting on your sunday best and sitting still, kneeling, and standing for an hour. god wasn't about eating stale wafers and drinking cheap wine. god wasn't about heated conversations, turning red in the face, or testifying. god wasn't old pages and stories passed down from generation to generation. god wasn't about is there a god, or is there an afterlife, or is god god or is god dead, or is god alive in our hearts and in our souls.

he used to pray. he used to pray for good things for himself and for others he knew. he used to tell god things like he'll do his best, and ask god for good luck on tomorrow's whatever. he used to relay messages to god to contact those who had gone before him, and ask god what was in store for him. when in danger, he asked god to help him. he would say things like, "thank you for life and everything you've given me. i love you, i love everyone in heaven, and i love everyone on earth." he wondered if he was supposed to say he loved those in hell, too, but he wasn't sure, so he never said it.

later on in life, he realized the emptiness behind those words. did he really mean them? was it just a chant? when words are said too often, do they become meaningless? he wasn't sure, so he just closed his eyes. the gratitude and requests had subsided.

it is this uncertainty, this empty feeling now, which lulls him to sleep.

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