The never ending adventures of God: The Second Coming.
August 3, 2018 § 4 Comments
God stood by the side of the road holding a cardboard sign. HUNGRY, it said.
He’d written the word with the marker he’d put in his own pocket by conceiving of one…Let There Be a Marker. How solid it had felt in his just-as-solid hand. In use, the marker had squeaked across the cardboard; the ink was running out.
The marker was the only dry thing by this twilit strip of asphalt. Rain was pelting down. God’s hair dripped, and the rain ran its cold fingers down his neck soaking his T-shirt.
The last time he had come here clothed in flesh it had been hot and dusty, but like this, it had been vibrant in a way omnipresence could never match. Omnipresence was existence spread thin.
Being everywhere and nowhere had a lot in common.
A truck roared past, spraying a fan of water over him; a shower within a shower. God felt himself begin to shake with cold. He heard his teeth chatter and realized they were false, and didn’t fit all that well.
He glanced down at his feet–he had feet! There had to be a hole in his left shoe. It was flooding.
He had come back as what he had called, “the least of these,” on his last visit.
That last visit? He had been pretty “least” then too, the son of a carpenter and a young woman with kind eyes, and how had that visit turned out?
Instead of leading an inconspicuous life, he had lost the beatific distance between creator and creation. Like any self-righteous mortal, he had engaged with the intent to change things. And look how that had turned out. He had been caught, recognized, and killed for being God. Far worse, he had left his mark. Indelibly.
Even now that life cast its shadow; he was worshiped. Worshiped! He had never looked for that. Creating was what his creations would call a hobby. It was what he did.
And now there were slick men in suits, like the money changers in the temple, who grew rich and fat because they claimed to have an inside track with him, not to mention the terrible acts committed in his name. Factions of those who claimed to love the man he had been each saw him in their own way and those with differing views were not just wrong, but evil.
The approaching headlights were now brighter than the sky which was fast candling down to black, and a squall passed over the road and him. At the edge of the hardtop worms were coming up out of the dirt, seeking the air; they felt like company as the sign in God’s hands began to wilt. Cardboard had little immortality.
Unexpectedly, God sneezed. What a sensation! This being alive had so many small rewards, but mostly, it sharpened his sense of being in a way omnipotence never could. He was right here, by the side of the road in a place called New Jersey. Air was going in and out of the bellows of his lungs. His stomach was empty, grumbling, his hands numb, his clothing soaked, and his knees ached.
He was right on the point of this moment and so alive he almost forgot that he had created this breath, this hunger, this ache. It was all so thrilling, this return visit.
He knew that many expected big things out of what they called The Second Coming. Fire and earthquakes, a sorting of the good from the bad, a casting out in which the righteous got to say, “I told you so,” but that was not what God had in mind.
This was it. The second coming. Did the cars speeding by even see the skinny old man with the cardboard sign standing in the rain?
Yes, they did. But only for a moment. Their hurry made them immune to his need. As they flashed by, those who gave him a glance turned in an excuse to themselves for not stopping; he was probably a drunk or a druggie who deserved to lie in this bed of his own making.
One woman took the time to mutter a God bless you, as if it worked that way. He wanted to tell her, I have given you each other! You are the help I send. I have given you all you need to do it–all I ask is that you bring the will.
In this finite, body, place, hour, God felt a deep discouragement well up. He considered choosing a moment between passing cars to vanish back into omnipresence, but a car was approaching, an old car with one headlight burned out.
And it was stopping.
At the wheel was an older woman who leaned across the seat to open the passenger door. “You poor thing,” she said. “Climb on in. Bet you’re about froze clear through.”
“Thanks, Ma’am.” This was a rare woman, one who would take a chance on a stranger. A male stranger. He slid into the front seat and closed the door.
“What’re you doing out on a night like this anyway?” she asked.
“Trying to get to Trenton,” he improvised. He felt bad that he was getting her tired upholstery wet.
“Us too,” she said. A dry cough came from the back seat.
“I’m Mavis,” the woman said, her eyes on the road. “And that back there is my grandson, Kyle.”
“I’m–” He was cut off by a second raspy cough. “Call me Joe.” He’d taken the name from the kind man who had been his father the other time–Joseph. The poor man had been so in over his head. For a moment he remembered wearing a limber child’s body, but another cough reminded him of the living, breathing boy in the back seat.
He turned his head. His human eyes could only make out the huddled shape of the boy. His all-seeing eye saw that death was coming for this body. Here it was called cystic fibrosis.
He had come back, wanting to be as inconspicuous and as natural as the rain. He had promised himself that, this time, he wouldn’t mess with anything, but as the drive to Trenton went on, Mavis told him about how Kyle was doing so much better on a new treatment. “It’s like a miracle!” Then she told him that Kyle’s parents had four other kids, so it was up to Grandma to look after this sweet boy.
Kyle began to hum in the back seat, that song about, can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street, and God’s heart broke. He could feel it.
He had Mavis drop him off at a diner; she pressed a five on him. That left four singles in her wallet. “God bless you,” she said.
“And you too.” Before getting out he reached into the back seat and put a hand on Kyle’s silky hair. He was doing it again, meddling in the workings of life; he did it anyway. As he climbed out of the car he heard Kyle draw a long, easy breath.
The car pulled away. God looked around the diner’s parking lot, its black asphalt shiny in the rain, its edges clotted with trash.
No one was watching when he turned incorporeal, spreading himself out once again over all creation. He was too big to fit into the small bottle that was human life without breaking things, but he hoped he hadn’t completely learned that lesson.
There was something about encountering kindness, about putting a flesh and blood hand on a child’s head, something about standing in the driving rain and feeling, really feeling it.
Note: This is the latest episode in the Never Ending Adventures of God. To read earlier episodes click the link on the left.