Monday, November 23, 2009

An Open Letter to the Master of the Universe

O Lord God, Master of the Universe
Creator of the grains of the earth
of the fruits of the vine,
Creator of the bodies we work until they break
the bodies we neglect because we're too lazy or too busy to do much else
of the bodies we get all sort of strange notions about from the media--
How are You? And how are things
up there
in Your cosmic abode
in the space your presence occupies
all around us?
Anything new you'd like to tell us about?
Anything you'd like to tell us about we're also ready to receive?

Lord God, I've been thinking lately
that this is a pretty good world you made.
I like it, in the mornings
when I walk my daughter to school
she hums to herself and rushes to pick up
fallen leaves and oh, the air feels good
around my face, and oh! how glad I am
that you gave me lungs for breathing
and her lungs for humming
and the trees--well, they seem happy, too
though as far as I know
you gave them no lungs at all
(I respect your artistic discretion
of course
on matters such as these)
In any case, it's a good world you made,
a nice home for your children
many of whom I know, by the way--
I chatted with a few today
they send their love
and want you to know that so close
to a holiday break
they're glad to be alive
glad they decided to come here
and be mortal
and get busy
and forget about you
until they get miserable enough to remember again.

Don't get me wrong--we're doing all right, down here
Sort of
I think
Or maybe that's a lie
I like to stay optimistic
but maybe I should slow down
because I realize it's pointless
to lie to You
Our Father, Our God
(who knows our thoughts
far better than we'd like Him to)
it's pointless to lie to You,
when the whole reason I'm praying in the first place
on this imaginary piece of paper
is to complain!
which I do quite well to other people
but not so well to You
on the same regular basis
So Oh Lord could you Please tell me this:
in this world you made
with so many real and impossible problems, like
cancers and impoverished children
fragile ecosystems we're attached to at the heart and hip
living minds that grow up in the dark
and the cold
no one around bothering to nurture them
in this world you made
where ghosts of the dead
still wander around
waiting for someone to help them make sense of
what their enigmatic time here meant
where our ancestors speak from the ground and beg us
to remember them
where the blood of murdered prophets waits
as a witness against our callousness
when you gave us so many compelling things to worry about
when you carefully crafted heartbreaking problems to draw us together
when you made trials that shine with the depth of eternity
and offer us the growth that will unlock the godliness in us
please just tell me why
we here on earth
spend so much of our time
dealing with stupid and trivial crap?

It's true. I'll give you the report,
as if you didn't already know--
we think our precious time here on earth
should be devoted to making other people check
the right boxes on various forms
whenever we're not busy
being made to check the right boxes ourselves
We think of problems as opportunities
to pass blame
and feel righteous in our shallow anger
and petty frustration
we think life
is about watching a series of commercials
and that success
is when you're the one making the commercials
we think compassion
is something you feel during a soap opera
and not when you go out of your way to help someone at work
or when your love for the whole human race
outweighs your worries about money
As to our attitude on righteousness, I will sum it up
as follows:
it's a very old-
sounding word,
one we'd have to look up
probably online
if anyone asked us what it meant
which, tellingly, they don't.

Heavenly Father--
I know you know everything,
but is this how you expected our lives to be?

Is Redemption really supposed to come out of this?

You know, I feel better already
just having asked.

You have this great way
of making my questions sound silly,
once I work up to them
and I appreciate that.

Someone stepped out of her way to help me today,
and that was very nice. Thanks for her, and to you
for softening her heart.

Thanks also for nurses everywhere,
and all for the overworked and underpaid
who keep things moving
who do work that matters
I worry about them, but I'm grateful for their sweat.

Thanks for the eye doctor who talked on the phone with my friend
last week
for free!
Who says miraculous things no longer happen?

Thanks for my students who are intelligent and kind
who want to be patient and forgiving
Bless me, Father, that I not break them of those habits
with my own self-importance
and with the momentum of my priorities!

Thanks for the coming days off
for wife and daughter and
the vibrant family I acquired in a bulk deal
at the time of my marriage
to spend such holidays with.

That thing you arranged,
where the pilgrims and the Indians got together
did things right for a year or two
before going at each other's throats--
thanks for working that!
We down here really appreciate the hope
such things lend us
especially when the weather's turning cold.

Thanks also, though, for the memories,
both personal
and inherited
of sins
both personal
and collective
we've committed before You and each other.
It's easier, I think, to work on things
when we can look back at the past
and say:

Thanks for the gift of tongues
(and yes, I mean that literally)
That talk and taste, two of my favorite things,
come in a single organ
is dazzling to me.

Thanks also for
who told strange stories
who healed more feverishly than a nurse
who works graveyard shifts all month
for Jesus
who died and gave the earth a chance to groan
(it needed that)
for Jesus
who surprised a woman
who was looking for his body in a garden
the way that we look for it in the sacrament bread
She needed that
and we do, too,
and so I pray
in this strange way
and on imaginary paper
in his name



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