The prompt I was writing to here was to write a letter to someone I trusted as a child. Though I no longer qualify as a Believer, God came to mind. It is a stream-of-consciousness thing which doesn’t attempt huge leaps of logic, so let it simply waft past you rather than trying too hard to comprehend. That is how I wrote it.
|Jesus Praying on the Mount of Olives (Artist Uncredited)|
I am writing to you, shade of a being I once imagined, shaped by family, friends, and neighbours, details filled in, sometimes false, sometimes fearsome, sometimes heartbreakiingly dear, by the representatives of your faith, female and male, yet still somehow personal to me, unlike any other person’s God, unlike any other caricature of divinity.
I write as a shade myself. I knew, and was, and am formed by that little girl and her haphazardly peopled world, but I no longer have a straight line to her. Her memories are tissue thin and blurry where they still exist. Her decisions are sometimes clear, sometimes lost. Her anger, represented now in dreams as mentally disturbed gunmen and inexorably approaching zombies, is the last strong vestige of whatever blossomed in her breast, along with its near companion, dear companion: conscience, compassion, love.
Ow. My arm hurts as much as my head after writing that so quickly. I’m tired, sore, tempted to go to sleep. What did I even want to say to you?
I remember when we talked a lot. Sundays on the kneeler, certainly, after confession and during penitential prayers, and before confessing, wondering with you what I might have done that I should list, or lying angry in my room when parental punishment struck me as too unfair.
I hear adults laugh at things they felt or wrote when they were young, but I can’t mock our childish agonies, or the indecipherable world that gave rise to them.
I was told that you, God, could do something with my pain, or maybe I only thought that was what grownups had said. Maybe they only meant that God brings and God takes away and I should pray to him and come to terms with that. An explanation might have helped. Or maybe I got one and rejected it. It always seemed there was much less giving than taking away.
I do see things differently now. I have dabbled with the disciplines of gratitude and forgiveness, self-expression and self-care, and self-restraint. I am a calm and happy person most of the time.
But the gunman is still in the church, the zombie in the library, and the child who wished that she would die, if not be loved, if not protected, if not helped up to a higher stair, she huddles in there still, heart pounding, strategizing with her dream companions how best to struggle through the challenge of the night.
And the young adult who pushed through the prairie blizzard shouting into your naked, uninterested ear—she remains, better trained, with more understanding, no longer misled into thinking there will be some sweet and final rescue.
They are there and they are my charges now, and I think I’ve done a better job with them than you did.
That does sound harsh, and my tenderness for you is now revealed. I know you didn’t stand a chance. Though there were genuine , kind, and honest folk, even gods need steadfast, clear-thinking allies in their work, and little succeeds against a whirlwind of misunderstanding and despair.
Care for them, my people. Let the dew of compassion, the sun-drops of faith in themselves and their safety permeate the armour, the veils, the corroded flesh, whatever mars their moments on this earth. And help me to continue letting go, freeing the leash I have tied around myself, freeing my love for every one I see.
Sweet blessings on your work.
Thanks as always to the wonderful women at the Callanish Society for our healing writing sessions.