I think of my grandparents as still alive. How could I think of them as anything else? How could they not be somewhere parallel to me? Where are they, that could be unreachable? Is this God’s plan for us? Live side by side until one timeline breaks and falls away to he-knows-where-but-I-do-not? Is Papa safe? Is Grandpa George safe? Does suicide take you to the seventh layer of hell? Does hell exist? I think there’s something very wrong about all of this. There is nobody to ask. There is nobody who has gone and come back. The only ones to ask are the unbroken. The dead know now what my body squirms daily to discover. I could have asked them in life but they did not know, not then. Only now. This is unfixable. Unknowable. Putrid, obscene ignorance that sticks in my flesh like shame. It feels like a sin, gathers together suddenly in waves of pure, destitute panic. It’s strange, the way the vulnerability in desperation can sometimes feel akin to an orgasm. My mind lurches to fill its empty spaces and finds no information with which to do so. Nature is infallible because she doesn’t pretend to be kind. God, however. God allows my suffering and still proclaims he is kind.
you want to envision the whole world
in the brief span of time that it gives you.
to be thrown from the heavens unfurled
cut away from indifference and seen through.
you are translucent illuminating pain
shot through to the hollow and aching
space between your temples. force the rain.
swallow whole every moment that time has taken
away from you. if others exist they are yours
they are yours because God granted you vision.
burn away death with feeling and fire and roar
up into the holy light from which you were risen.
you never asked for this but you’ll take it
whole and wanton and raw and never again
will you allow anything to cheat your spirit.
I thought you knew that God couldn’t be pinned down. You’ve said so many times that his nature is incomprehensible. Why do you tell me we can’t know the concrete truth, but then, with the same tongue and absolute certainty, tell me I’m wrong? There is no absolute truth. I know you think that’s a logical fallacy. But you ignore every logical fallacy I bring to your attention, and you know why, don’t you? You know it’s because there is no absolute reality. You know that, because even the color red changes from human to human. Even eyesight, depth perception, hearing. I’m deaf in my left ear. I can’t hear the birds chirping in the morning. My best friend is schizophrenic. She texted me the other night about the way the voices seemed different than they usually do — they were alarming when usually they’re calm. How come you hate vanilla ice cream when I love it? How come I care so much about hell when you don’t? How come I’m wrong when I say that truth is relative?
Vanilla ice cream is delicious. There is no absolute truth.
Everything about life is subjective. That is the nature of reality and the beauty of it, too. God will not damn me to hell because he did not reveal the same truth to me that he did to you. God is Abba, Father, Mother, Protector of his/her children in life and in death. He knows where our differences lie. He knows that fear will never be solid ground for my faith, even if it is for you. We aren’t the same.
You know that God is the God of second chances. You know the parable of the Farmer and his workers. He hired men to tend his vineyard, and they worked all day starting in the morning. When afternoon came, he found more men waiting for work, and when he asked them why they were waiting, they said nobody had hired them. So he hired them, and they worked until the end of the day. When the Farmer paid all of the workers the same, the ones who had worked from morning complained. “‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.'”
God is in control. He will save some of us now and some of us at the mouth of Death. We will never be penalized for waiting.
I’m waiting for God. All of the faithless are waiting. We cannot be cast into hell for the knowledge that is withheld from us.
The road to truth is dim and slippery and every human being is given a separate route.
I’ve found myself struggling to reach a sense of peace.
I haven’t been content since I was a Christian kid.
Dusk felt fresh and everlasting, and on cold nights
at summer camp I would sit by the fire with my
hands tucked into my sleeves. I thought about how
I would die, but I didn’t think about it the way I
do now. I was Christian, so I was guaranteed heaven
when most of the population wasn’t. And I was so
scared that my focus might shift and my worldview
might blend in with society’s until I became part
of the majority that was destined for hell.
Now that’s me, so I haven’t felt stillness for what
seems like a long time. There’s a restlessness
behind everything. Always waiting for peace to come
but no promise that it ever will, just fear and
the intrinsic knowledge that I’ll never really know
anything for certain. It seems melodramatic, but it
seeps into everything. That’s why it’s all I’ve been
able to write about. It’s all I’m able to feel.
my passion is that swarm of locusts
from which emerged John the Baptist
with grime in his hair and earth growing
from the tips of his righteous fingers.
I’m lost in it. the wind that beat against
the mountain on whose crest Elijah stood
to listen for the still small voice of God.
I want to be filled with something pure.
I was always jealous of the dead boy
laid out on the bed for the prophet Elisha,
unconscious and waiting for the renewing
breath of salvation and life.
the Holy Spirit sounds different to me now
than it did when I was in 6th grade.
now it sounds like the call of a Siren,
imploring, desperate, personal, willing
to make any false claim so that it might
snatch up the remnants of my purpose.
my passion is the rope that binds me
to the mast and I’m the only one whose ears
aren’t plugged up with wax. I know that because
I still hear the Sirens.
and I can’t discern the truth.
do I trust those creatures, do I trust my crewmen,
do I trust the violent seething desperate
yearning that fills my lecherous bones?
I think there might be some hope for me.
that so long as I fight to identify the truth,
it cannot be used against me.
my passion is a harlot like Rahab, a grieving
wanderer like Jeremiah, innocent like Ruth
and bloodthirsty like King David.
I’ve asked God for wisdom and he denied
it to me. give me my hundreds of concubines.
give me my desperation and my burning lust
for my same sex. give me bloody battlefields and
corrupted temples and slavery upon slavery upon
slavery. give me Samson’s jawbone dagger and
a dead concubine divided into twelve pieces and
the burning remains of Sodom and Gomorrah and then
show me where God is found in all of that.
The present hurtles me forward
but when I close my eyes, I
and I can hear the past and
the future rush up behind me to
scream in my ear.
I can feel the simulation of my life
turning slowly toward reality.
Eternity never looks at me twice,
but I glance at it again and again,
obsessively, like I glance
at the clock during tests.
Is this why we’re mortal?
Because the disappearance of time
outlines us like a flash of double exposure?
Because being hurtled toward death
is what gives us the weightless sensation
like the last few seconds of Space Mountain?
I have chills, like time is
licking the back of my neck
in San Francisco wind.
I’m 18. I don’t want
to cast bets against my mind
over my remaining days,
but it’s what makes everything so
beautifully fragile. Without cold water
to wake me up, would peaceful sleep
feel so delicious?
And without eternal sleep,
would I fight so hard to stay awake?
I’m afraid this will get worse with age,
but I’m also afraid it’ll go away.
suffering is bearable
because it doesn’t last.
your body and
like old skin.
there is always something greater
than your pain
waiting for you.
and the more this hurts
the more you will learn
to carry your hardships
when you’re little and you get hurt
other kids will
hit you somewhere else, harder, and
say, “now it doesn’t hurt.”
they’re being jerks about it
but they’re right.
perspective dims pain.
running a mile
seems like nothing
when you’re 30 minutes into
a hike in the Grand Canyon.
and you wonder
why you were ever scared
to watch a horror movie
when your own grandfather
shot himself in the head.
the threat of
every earthly trial
is reduced when you consider
the fate of your soul.
don’t turn the idea
into an escape.
death is not a solution.
death makes every burden
you’ve ever carried
this crushing pain
than you think.