He is. Or at least He sits. There. Two legs fewer than His stool, beard long and worn as the bar He leans on. There, His creative anxiety breathed it into existence. His desire to rest gave Him brew, which sits in a mug and the mug in a gnarled crater. The only thing that moves There, and only in tired lines, is the mug, the steam of the brew even refusing to float upward. His thoughts give Him a heft that His elbows bear on His thighs. The same thoughts carved His eyes and cheeks with tears, tears that reflect There in His eyes as He recounts His youth. There, these days, is more dust than breath, breath only around in sighs, dust only as waxing crescents under His nails. Five nails at a time hold briar and the briar some embers. He exhales smoke as atonement.
He recounts: Nothing to do, so He made It. He packed earth between His palms and poured light into His hands. He swirled water behind His lips and exhaled into the mixture. He held It to His heart and watched as His body heat turned dirt and vapor to continents and oceans. He watched as thumps from His chest aerated the soil and made thunder and rainbows. A hair from His beard fell onto It, from which all creatures sprung and stretched, writhed and wriggled. When He saw this He smiled, and His smile gulped some brew.
When He began to rejoice and dance, He set the sculpture on the bar top. But there It cooled and dried, froze and cracked. When he noticed, he gasped, and the gasp collapsed the ash downward. He wept at His neglect. So He gave It a fiery core for warmth and a shield of wind and waves for protection. But His guilt from his first folly grew too taxing for one to bear, so He made him, on It, sculpted of soil, animated by moist, warm prayers. He wanted someone to share It with, a companion to sing harmony and drum rhythms. But at first, Adam neither sang nor danced. Adam felt his Father’s guilt but had no There or It or companion for consolation. So He made Hawwah and gave her a garden on It. She and Adam gave themselves to each other. She brought life to Adam, and they to Him. The three sang and swung and spun.
When the two were hungry, He gave them fruits. When they craved expression, He gave them new materials and knowledge. But with contentment and answers, they forgot mystery and context. Their dogma saddened Him, and their will frightened Him. He fumbled the sculpture and dropped It. It fell away, away from There into nowhere, faster than the tears from His beard.
Only yells could cross the void, and so He tried to talk with them. Yet arduous screams give only commandments and fragments. They misunderstood Him. Their sons and daughters did too.
His panic sent storms, sunrises, and plagues, gave signs to the kings and teachers. Yet the trinkets guided and healed only at first. Then they destroyed and corroded. The ark leaked its lightning, and sand smudged words off of tablets.
They forgot how to dance and instead learned to march. He wept. When He could think of no solution, He slept.
Then, There, His dreams bore Him a son, and His son nuzzled his face into His chest and gave his Father new brew. He awoke and smiled; His son warmed His spirit and the brew His body.
He danced with Him. He chose the steps and signaled; he added tension and flourish. They sang harmonies, soft and loud, in fifths and thirds. When one hungered, the other cooked. When one ailed, the other healed. They became each other. They learned of love and mutuality, vulnerability and strength.
Then they remembered, and There it rained. They remembered them and It and agreed. He would go to them to remind them of love.
The son fell away from There into nowhere, toward It.
When he arrived, he saw how they forgot. He saw Father’s living word fossilized in stone, and gifts put in shrines instead of to use. So he sang love. He healed the body by humming for the sick and dancing with the tired. But the powerful and popular were ashamed. He had found utopia’s downtrodden and their sores, and his song dared fill them with grace and beauty. The many were jealous. Their envy grew spores in their stomachs. Their shame corrupted them. So he preached love to them too. He showed sincerity, offered acceptance. But their insecurity rotted his offerings and reacted. Violence soon oozed through their pores.
They did not want to change if it meant what they were was inadequate. They did not want healing if it meant their righteousness was disease. Cure us? they wondered. Why remedy the limbs when you can cut the cancer out? they reasoned. So they used his Father’s law and tradition to sharpen a scalpel; they invented a hell in preparation to incinerate his sickness.
When he saw this, their will frightened him, so he fled. In panic, he loved. He found friends and wed Magdalene. He told them many hated him, but they didn’t understand. But no one can, not with empty stomachs and brittle lips. So he taught them to fish and break bread, to make wine and share love. But they were still confused. So he spoke in rhyme and images and made them promise to remember, to love him by loving each other. They didn’t understand why he asked remembrance when he was still there.
Then the many came for him, and he was powerless to stop the crowd. Then friends and lovers had to learn to remember too quickly.
Back There, He felt a void open in his gut, and his heart collapsed into it. He wept again. Yet He was too old to shout, and His bones too gnarled to sculpt. His soul was too tired to dream.
So He sits. There. No partner to sing with. Smoke ends pain, and drink brings sleep. Sometimes, He remembers them and him and Himself. How they forgot, He sighs. How I gave Myself but it was not enough, He sulks. His mood dims His thoughts. So There He sits. Breathing. Forgetting.
Then He forgot how to sulk, forgot how to forget. His body forgot how to be tired. The bar no longer supported Him, and His toes took His weight from His heels. He forgot His fear of failure. His lips hummed; His feet pattered. He began to dance, to dream again.
He understood His mistake. Instead of giving them a how, he shouted one word across the void: “Why!”
And each reverberation on It changed His word’s shape.
01110111 01101000 01111001
Every genius heard its ring, and the resonance flaked rust from their minds. Losing the rust made room for others and their questions. Back There, He was pleased.
He changed the sun and re-wrote the epicycles. He made Terra dance around Sol, and sent a lens so they could find the bodies and watch.
He revealed the overture and movement, showed them they were not the final song. He scuffed the finish of the earth and cells to show bones and ladders of aminos. He sent circuits so they could record the signatures and scales, the sceneries and stories.
He saw them awaken, remember, ask. Yet when they found and stated, they began to forget and feud. So He sent new questions and revealed new puzzles until their eyes fluttered upward and their hands shared work. He was pleased.
There, He sits and hums, wonders and scribbles. He watches them grow and wither, dance and quiver. His dreams bear questions, and the questions hope. His paper bears ink, and the void bears notes that drop from There toward It and them.
There, he scurries and jigs, prepares a feast and beds. He makes a New There for them and waits till they follow His maps to reach Him.
Food for Thought
For centuries, philosophers have lashed against the Three-O God (the omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient one). The Problem of Evil attacks most savagely. It assumes one premise: profound suffering, physiological and psychological, exists in the world. Then it argues that such evils can only exist in a world where god is (a) ignorant of the suffering or a cure thereto, (b) diabolical in his creation or permission of such pain, or (c) too weak to remove humanity’s evils. So if Christians—especially orthodox Westerners—want to believe in a God, they must revise the qualities they think he has, or give up their belief. This story is a prosaic example of how to explain the images and teachings of Christianity, while also weakening the three Os of tradition. The He of “There” is omnibenevolent but pitifully limited in His ability to understand humanity’s evils and His powers to mitigate the suffering.
About the Author
The arid steppes of the Texas Panhandle sculpted boomer trujillo of dust and wind. His Hispanic upbringing engrained Catholic mythology and divine suffering into him each Sunday at mass. His education, most recently as a PhD student in philosophy at Vanderbilt, is his attempt to make sense of it all. His fiction catalogues his intellectual failures but advances his emotional tranquility. He hopes it does the same for you.