The world is fragile. It has always been this way, yet now I sense this more apparently. Where the wind blows through my window, onto my bed. By the sun beams, or the rain scattered on my window frame. I heard the first thunder of spring yesterday as it shattered the sky.
This blue evening that down on the city descends is fragile. The night air staggers slowly down the alley, and, I watch it from where I sit, clenching my fists. Tree branches texture against bricks and the turquoise patina of copper roofs, against the dusk and beyond into infinity. What delicate universe upholds us. I used to believe in God the way I was taught to believe but I can’t anymore. Matt called me last night, sobbing into the phone because the twenty dollars I gave him are all he has between him and the world. His mother doesn’t love him anymore. I told him that God is with him, not only in spiritual omnipotence but also in transient flesh. God sleeps on the streets too, because He has been evicted and misunderstood. She has been raped and broken. God is one of us: “genocided”, paralyzed, beaten, crucified and lynched, underestimated, gassed and burned. God weeps with us and wonders how to get home.
“God is with you in your darkness.” I told him. And then I prayed with Matt, saying
Even before we call on your name to ask you, Oh God.
When we seek for the words to understand You, You hear our prayer.
Please, God, please be with us. Please be with Matt in his darkness.
This world is a fragile place.
And everything was almost falling. I understood it then. The delicate moment balances each frame hoping the next won’t be the last. Piercing all of this, piercing the dusk, and the looming fruit of night comes a bird’s song.
The carpet in the hall is red and silent. I know this, because I stepped into the hall, leaned on the railing, looked up to the sky-light and down the stair. But all was silent. I heard an intermittent scream of a fire alarm – very faint, yet persistent. “Fragile,” I told myself.
At 3 A.M. this morning, I heard the bird song begin again. Dulcet and keen through the thick darkness of the alley. Repented, relentless, the bird kept singing oblivious of the universe, of this existential crisis, oblivious of its own fragility. Cocking my head to the sound, I found a strange comfort in the bird song. What fragile body hold this tune? Can form its lips and sing into the city? I knew not this. I only listened, and felt the world shift beneath me.
I then crept to my fragile bed, and curled myself under thin blankets thinking, “Sleep is fragile. I know this, because I remember nights when I couldn’t rest. Sleep is fragile, yet perhaps the most powerful thing I know. Sleep is like a river, black in the midnight, that will never end or grow. It is and remains. When we once die, sleep will become our being. Sleep is like silence. We understand silence because since birth our ears have been bludgeoned by unending noises. Noise is formed and shaped to create language by which we define our realities. Yet, when these are gone, then comes the silence that always was. Noise begins in silence and must end there. Sleep begins when our waking ends. Sleep must be the void from which our waking is mystically created. The undefined world of darkness onto which light is pronounced and creation begins. In waking we find sorrow and hunger, grief and panic, horror and joy. But then comes sleep: to slip again into silence and light, rediscovering innocence in the bosom of nothing.”
When I woke, I remembered my friend who I suspect has killed himself by now. I didn’t know, but I have no way calling him. A new person owns his phone. I can only surmise and pray for his soul. I can only bend my fragile thoughts into fragile beams, sharp at the tip, and hurl these into the sky. God hears every prayer, I know this. But most of his answers are silence, and I don’t blame Him. Silence is fitting in times of deep pain. Silence is meaningful and God must be as fragile as we are. Maybe God is sleeping right now as he hold my friend’s soul close to his bosom.
Again, I stand in my window and look to the dusk. In the buildings across the alley, people move in the windows. Fragile windows hold back the cold, and fragile light bulbs shine on them. My room remains dark and silent.
I would go home, but I am afraid that if I did, I would bring a lung-chewer back to my parents. I become angry at ignorant underestimation of this tiny virus. Those who think they are stronger then nature, believe that they have risen above nature itself by virtue of their humanity. In the end, a human is simply a highly functioning collection of atoms and cells. An articulated string of DNA. What fool would be so enchanted with their own body, that they discredit how fragile are the tiny bits that create us? Atoms and molecules, clusters of protein, ions and lipids, layers of cells snapped together, each cell a complex, organic society of living things that alone create a universe beyond our comprehension. In all of this, where is there room for the spirit? Where are the gaps through which the soul seeps. If God designed all of this, then why do we believe He cares more for the spirit of us – the intangible soul – than for the organic body and being?
I am afraid, not of my being, and not of my end. I am afraid of what I don’t know. That I will never know why I am. How can I understand the word “dimension” when not even God gives you answers for the meaning – oh, the utter universe – the lies beneath this simple word. Dimension. Space. Time. God. I. Why must these be, and why is God?
I am afraid, because I don’t know where I will go when I die. I don’t even know what death is. Where will I go in the afterlife?
I lie down in the afternoon. Through my window, I see the sunlight is cold in the wind that blows down the ally. I lie here understanding that sin and death and every terrible occurrence provided by human, animal or the grand force of nature, every thought or sentiment that is evil is so not because God is omnipotent enough to have ordained it or that he constantly micromanages every bit and particle. God is not omnipotent enough to create something that then turns on Him and destroys itself while He remains aloof. This is not the best of all possible worlds, and yet this world is good. God has chosen to let the world do as it will and simultaneously enters into the world, possessing every brilliant moment of pain or joy.
Imagine the shape of God. He is smaller then our conceptions. The Old Testament hyperbole of God using earth as a footstool, or that He stomps over mountains and through oceans are only useful in evoking passion or love towards the idea or concept of God. A myth is not literal or real necessarily, rather it serves a purpose of communicating a very basic and simple truth underneath the magnified embellishments. God is as afraid as we are, not understanding why sin is or why people would choose evil. God has made a world gone rouge, a universe greater than himself, and his omnipotence lies his ability to enter into every moment. He is not abstract to pain or suffering and certainly inhabits the goodness that is.
It is night now. So I sleep and I don’t know if I dream, but if I do, I hope I do not remember. Let it be night where innocence is an utter oblivion. Let it be night, where nothing becomes the only present thing.
Even before we call on Your name
To ask You, O God,
When we seek for the words to glorify You,
You hear our prayer;
Unceasing love, O unceasing love,
Surpassing all we know.
Glory to the Father,
and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
Even with darkness sealing us in,
We breathe Your name,
And through all the days that follow so fast,
We trust in You;
Endless Your grace, O endless Your grace,
Beyond all mortal dream.
Both now and forever,
And unto ages and ages,
From Pilgrim’s Hymn by Stephen Paulus