Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Meeting With God

The line seemed to stretch for miles as he stood on the clouds. Light gleamed brightly all around and yet it bothered no one at all. It sparkled and shone as if gold and diamond while remaining entirely invisible--a contradiction of the senses yet altogether understandable. Time became relative as if it never were before. The line simply moved and disappeared in a matter of seconds despite each discussion at the gates taking minutes and in some cases hours. Before he knew it, he stood third in line as he listened in to the two conversations before him.

A lady approached the gates full of confidence intent on walking through as she outstretched her arms exclaiming, "My Lord! How great it is to see you!"

"Lord?" A being replied as two shimmering, glowing guards held their hands up before the lady indicating that she should stop. "Lord?" The being repeated inquisitively. "How is it you call me Lord? I do not know you at all."

Aghast, the woman replied, "But, my Lord, I served you every waking hour of my life! How can you say you do not know me?"

"How can you say that you do know me? When have I asked anything of you that you might serve me?" The being spoke calmly while sitting in a majestic chair as one might expect of a deity. The light shining all around the chair masked any resemblance of human qualities that the sitter might possess. "I assure you, I have asked nothing of you and I do not know you."

"I... I'm Kris! Kris Chin! You must know me... You died for me! You said you would put my sins as far from me as the east is from the west... I... I don't understand." She paled as she tried to make sense of her situation.

"I assure you, Kris, I would never say such a thing. You see, east and west are mere constructs of mankind who walk the planet of Earth. Their unimaginative shortsightedness is demonstrated in the futility of such a meaningless statement. If one travels far enough east, she finds herself west. One can take a step to the east and immediately take a step to the west. Each step east makes the previous step west which once was east. If I promised to to put your sins as far from you as east is from the west, I have promised nothing at all. Your sins remain beside you in all directions and wherever you stand. East and west are relative and exist simultaneously in any one location."

Kris held back tears as she shook her head in disbelief. "I loved you with every ounce of my heart. I trusted you to save me."

The being replied gently, "It is not me whom you have trusted and known; we have only just met. You appear to have me confused with someone else. I must admit that I am surprised and slightly bemused if not for your grief that such deep love as you profess could have you mistake me for your life's devotion. Tell me, who is it that you believe so resembles my personage? I should like to meet her."

Kris's face contorted in confusion. "I... he... well..."

"My apologies, do tell me about him then," the being kindly interrupted.

"Well, I am talking about God. He is all-loving, all-kind, all-powerful, all-knowing, and he exists everywhere and in everything."

"Wow, I am flattered to have been confused with such a man!" the being exclaimed, "though clearly I am not existing everywhere and in everything. I sit before you now as you can see. I also have as of yet to demonstrate any such qualities to you. How is it that you confused me for him? Do we look alike?"

Kris stammered a little, "Well... I... yes. I mean, I think so."

"You think so?"

"Well, I've never actually seen him before," she explained, still a bit unsure of her situation and her deep convictions.

"I see. So you have never seen this man but you presume he looks similar to me. Tell me, how do you know the character of this man if you have never met him?"

"He is not a man," Kris said, "he is God, and God is love. And I know him, I just haven't seen him."

"An interesting disposition," the being replied. "You say you know him without seeing him and yet you mistook me for him. How do you know anything about him?"

"Well," Kris continued, "from the Bible--God's Word. And I talked with him every day."

"So his voice sounds much like mine?"

"No. I mean, I don't know, he never spoke to me audibly."

"I see..." the being trailed off.

"I spoke aloud to him, but he guided me with understanding as I read his written word in the Bible. He guided every aspect of my life."

"It says here that you died of cancer," the being prompted, "and spent the last three years of your life suffering unduly at the hands of chemotherapy."

"Well yes, but God helped me through it."

"You died," the being reminded, "and suffered up until that point. In what way did he help?"

"He kept me happy despite the pain and gave me promise of eternal life for my faith in him."

"The records indicate there were many cries of pain and much unhappiness during those three years. How can you say he kept you happy?"

Kris thought about it for a second, "I kept hope and faith to press on. It brought me joy when I thought about it. I wasn't always happy, but my faith in God's promises always brought me back."

"I see. So you brought your own joy when considering the promise of eternal life from your god. What was your contribution to this promise?" the being inquired.

"I... I believed. I kept the faith. I accepted his gift. It was nothing that I did on my own. He promised that I just needed to accept it."

"And this promise came from the Bible?"

"Yes."

"And you believed it?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

Kris stared blankly. She had no idea how she knew the Bible was true--she simply knew. She had never studied apologetics or tried to convince anyone of this truth. It simply resonated with her. It brought her comfort and joy and so she continued to believe. What could she say to answer this question? "I don't know," she offered sullenly.

"I see. Well, it was nice to meet you, Kris, you may pass. Follow the signs marked "Bible."

Kris's face lit up. "You're letting me in?" she asked exuberantly.

"Well yes, everyone gets in, it is simply a matter of where they go. Move along. Next!"

Kris, overwhelmed with joy and confusion, walked through the giant gates as instructed and followed signs marked "Bible." To her surprise, there were no other marked signs to follow. The road veered off at times, but the signs were blank apart from the ones reading "Bible." She continued as instructed wondering what might lie ahead.

Another man approached the gates and spoke to the brightly lit being on the chair, "Ha ha! Wow! That lady sure was stupid! What an idiot, right?"

"You may pass," the being responded. The man waltzed through the gates strutting importantly. "Oh," he instructed, "follow signs for 'asshole.'" The man's countenance dropped and his eyebrows furled as he scoffed. He continued to walk and, to his surprise, saw many florescent and glowing signs marked "asshole." One sign in particular pointed right at him and followed him as he moved. Indignant, he walked the unmarked roads in defiance.

Finally, the man witnessing these conversations approached the gates. "Um, hi. Uhh, what is this place? Who are you?" he managed to get out.

The being responded cheerfully, "Why, this is the afterlife, of course! I am Dee Itty. I am with human resources here. You would be surprised how many people do not ask me that question, though. So many seem to think they know already. They generally revere me as some kind of God and expect me to do favors for them."

"Oh. Uhh, nice to meet you, Dee. I'm Hue Manist. I didn't really expect there to be an afterlife, so I'm a bit shocked here. So what now? I saw the people before me and I can't say I know what happens next," Hue concluded.

"Well," Dee explained, "we have a few different settlements similar to the concept of countries. It is my job to determine which one you would be a good fit for. Sometimes it is not immediately clear who should go where and so I send them on special missions to determine their true character."

"So these settlements are based on character?" Hue reasoned.

"Character and personality mostly. It would not be a very decent eternity for a compassionate person to be roommates with a torturous barbarian, for example. Or an intellectual to live beside those who have never had an original thought in their life. It would be quite frustrating for both parties."

"That makes sense," Hue nodded. "So what will become of Kris?"

"Kris needs further study and psychological support. She will follow the signs marked "Bible" until she finds the futility in it. As she begins to reason, the signs will change and she can begin to see with her own eyes and think with her own mind. Then we can truly see what she is made of. With people like her, it is difficult to tell what she thinks since she allowed someone else to do it for her all her life. It is such a mixed bag of people where some are nice and some are not. They all profess the same basic ideal in life--faith in God--and yet some will torture anyone who disagrees with them, chop of heads, or commit genocide against everyone else, while some will simply live no different than the average person. A select few will even take to being kind and compassionate toward others although usually in hopes of spreading their beliefs."

"And what of the man before me?" Hue asked.

"The signs marked 'asshole' will lead him to one of the lesser settlements where he can live as he sees fit. Of course, he will likely spend a great deal of time wandering aimlessly until he must acknowledge who he is and actually follow the signs marked out for him. People like him have little capacity for understanding the point of view of others and so he will live out his years with similar people. He will either grow to understand and change in which case he may be given special privileges to move, or he will forever complain, mock, and jeer as he has done all his life. If he is not satisfied with either option, there are provisions in this settlement to erase one's existence. We are not particularly fond of torture here but we are also not fond of people walking all over others. It is the best we can do."

Hue nodded in agreement. After some thought, he asked, "And what of me, then? Where will I go?"

Dee returned the question, "Where would you like to go? What kind of place would suit you the best?"

Hue opened his mouth to speak and cut himself short. "Hmm..." he pondered. "Well, at first thought I would have asked to be where everyone is constantly loving, caring, compassionate, and thinking of others. But, while I am indeed those things at times, it is not constant. I, too, can be selfish and I would not fit in well with such a group. To be honest, I often prefer to be left alone to some degree without others constantly worrying about me and what I'm doing. I guess I just want a place where I can be me and everyone else can be themselves. A place where we are considerate and caring, yet not particularly focusing on others unless that is within our own interest. I want to live in a place where we can pursue our creativity and enjoy the creativity of others. A place where we can seek out new ideas and strive for our passions. I want to be recognized and enjoyed for who I am and what I do even if I am not the best, but simply because it is me and what I enjoy. Is there a place like that?"

Dee smiled behind the veil of light. "And do you think that you can live out this ideal yourself?"

Hue responded, "I think so," as everything around him began to melt and blow away in the wind. Hue stood hovering over nothing and before him stood Captain Picard of the USS Enterprise. He pointed at Hue with a grin and said, "Make it so!" In a flash, Ayth Eist awoke in his bed only to realize that this had all been a dream. He pondered the meaning behind it all just long enough to remember that dreams have no explicit meaning beneath the mysterious workings of the brain as it processes and organizes information. He felt strangely comforted, however, as he considered the words of Hue and the conversations with Dee. Surely, Ayth could see the wisdom in all of it given that it had been derived of his own mind. He decided then that he would take Captain Picard's challenge to "make it so" on Earth. Ayth Eist decided to be just like Hue Manist.

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