God: It was good to see you last Sunday.
trumwill: Was it?
God: Sure. Like any father I love it when my children come to visit. Even if they do mess up the confessional.
trumwill: Yeah. They didn’t do the usual one. I didn’t know the words to the one that they were doing and by the time I realized that I was lost, I knew that it was more than half way through and that there wasn’t any point to finding the prayer book.
God: If you didn’t know the words, how did you know that it was almost finished?
trumwill: The words change, but the spirit is usually the same. There’s sort of a rhyme and rhythm to the way it works. That’s one of the things that I love about being an Episcopalian. It’s all rhythmic and sure. Even if I get lost, I sort of know where I am. Maybe You prefer the services where people are jumping up and down yelling their devotion to You. I like the rhythm. It took me so long to find it. Remember when I was a kid and I thought that we should say the words more forcefully? For thine is the KINGDOM, the POWER, and the GLORY…
God: You were young and impatient.
trumwill: I’m old and impatient. Back then I was just young and bored. I didn’t know how to join the rhythm of the service. Say the participatory prayers, listen to the Gospels, contemplate the Gospel. I spent so much time thinking that there ought to be ways that it could be done quicker and more interesting. If I could have just taken a step back and go with the flow that was given, slow my mind down and contemplate the reason for the moment, it would have probably given me the speed and interest I could have used.
God: That’s true of a lot of things in your life.
trumwill: It’s the story of my life. I can be so insistent on finding my own way that I overlook the path placed in front of me. I’m so worried about finding that optimal place between effort and result that I ignore the experiences of those around me. I keep thinking that maybe I can get by with doing less or that I will do more and have no more to show for it. That I’ll do my job, to go church, diet, exercise, quit smoking… and it won’t do any good. Wasted effort. I ignore that people that do certain things turn out better than people that do other things. No matter how much life proves otherwise, I never stop thinking that the rules of cause and effect and social rewards and punishments just won’t work for me.
God: That’s quite the dilemma. Moreso because you can see it right in front of you and feel that there isn’t anything that you can do about it.
trumwill: If I do something about it, that might just be wasted effort. In case I am right and what I see all around me is wrong, I mean.
God: I’m not sure what to say to that.
trumwill: Score one for the Willmeister. I just stumped God!
God: People stump me all the time. By not doing what they oughtn’t be doing. By giving you free will, I’ve sacrificed the power to be unstumpable. Stumping me is a dubious achievement. It’s one that comes with something opposite of a reward.
trumwill: So… yeah… what were we talking about?
God: Church. I’m pleased that you chose to sing today.
trumwill: Well yeah. My father… I mean, you know… my other father… and I used to always say that our gift to You in Your house was not singing. If You’d intended me to sing, I figured that you’d have given me a pleasant voice.
God: Your voice is as pleasant as it is sincere.
trumwill: Is it sincere? I mean half of the hymnals don’t mean a whole lot to me personally. They’re just what was chosen by some committee in New York or the Southfield Archdiocese. I never cared enough to even find out.
God: Regardless of the meaning the songs may have to you personally, perhaps it is that you are singing it together that gives it meaning to you. That allows it to become part of the rhythm that you appreciate.
God: Did you enjoy the service?
trumwill: Is the service something to be enjoyed?
God: I’d prefer it bring enjoyment than misery, though I suppose that there is more to consider than enjoyment.
trumwill: Then why do You ask the question?
God: Because you haven’t been to church since Christmas. You even missed Easter this year.
trumwill: Yeah, sorry about that. I was up too late the night before.
God: You intended to go the next week, though, didn’t you? Or the week after? The week before, the week before that…
trumwill: I intend to do a lot of things that I don’t get around to doing.
God: True enough. I just find it interesting that you would place more value on sleeping in than taking the simple steps it would take to visit my house on Sunday mornings.
trumwill: Sorry again. Boy, I’ve apologized twice now. Maybe I’m making up for goofing up the confessional.
God: Or maybe you’re gearing up to tell me why you haven’t stopped by.
trumwill: You know why. You’re omniscient.
God: I know what I know, but sometimes you need to tell somebody something to know it.
trumwill: It’s like Dad when I first moved to Deseret. How I avoided calling him and talking to him. I came up with all sorts of good reasons. Just like with church. I’ll do it later, tomorrow, the next day, next week. In reality, I guess, I didn’t want to talk to him because I didn’t want to face up to my failures.
God: Your failures?
trumwill: Yeah. I didn’t have a job yet. I didn’t have my Deseretian license plate or driver’s license. I didn’t know how long it would take for me to find a job and get settled in. I didn’t want to talk to him and tell him about all the things that I hadn’t yet done.
God: Would you have had nothing else to talk about?
trumwill: I’m sure I would have found things to talk about. But I would have feared that he would have been thinking the whole time of all the ways I’ve disappointed him. He’s rarely tried to make me feel that way, but his patience only makes me more impatient. His belief that I would make right made me feel all the worse for not doing so. My fear of his belief that I am a failure made me not want to call and validate his disappointment in me.
God: I am certain that he would have loved to hear from you. Regardless of what good news you may not have had to share with him.
trumwill: Wait… you know in the omniscient way that you know everything, or you know because you’re empathetic to my cutting him off and sympathetic to how I feel about it?
God: I know because I don’t ask that you have all good news before coming to visit me. Or to talk to me. Or to think about me. Some people come to me precisely because they are incomplete in some fashion or another. They come for help.
trumwill: Sort of like “Dear God, please find me a job?”
God: No. Sort of like the prayer you would sometimes say before taking an important test at school or before embarking on some other test of importance to you. You wouldn’t ask that I got you A’s. You asked that I give you the composure to stand up to the challenge.
trumwill: I left it deliberately vague, but I wanted that A. I just knew that I hadn’t worked enough to earn it.
God: You often got it.
trumwill: Yeah. Thanks for that. I don’t know. I just feel like maybe once I’ve got my crap together and had something to show You that maybe… I don’t know… I’d have something to show you rather than being all empty-handed and embarassed. Maybe once I’m already headed in the right direction, maybe then I can show you what I’ve got instead of standing before You as the sum of everything that I haven’t.
God: Do you remember what eventually happened when you cut your father off?
trumwill: Yeah. He got impatient and found my blog, where I’d written about my guilt about not talking to him. He started calling more often so that I couldn’t keep brushing him off.
God: And what happened?
trumwill: Things got better. My mind cleared from something that had been bothering me a great deal. I don’t know that it helped me find work any faster, but it made the meantime more bearable.
trumwill: Well, right now I’ve fallen behind in so many ways and until I can get right on some of them it’s hard to get right on all of them. Sort of like it’s hard to stop smoking as long as I eat crappy food, but it’s hard to stop eating crappy food as long as I’m drinking crappy drinks because they go together. Crappy drinks go with cigarettes.
God: And once you’re a disgusting sinner, you can just stay there with the idle dream that you can suddenly give it all up at once and become a respectable citizen that can call your father and go to church and face the world.
trumwill: All or nothing, that’s me.
God: How’s that working out for you?
trumwill: One of these days, Lord. One of these days.
God: And nothing scares you more.
trumwill: Not that I can think of.
God: Except that maybe it won’t.
trumwill: Except that.