GOD 101: From His Bookshelf, or, Watch your backs

My Writing

From His Bookshelf, or, Watch your backs by Julia Marks

More and more it becomes fascinating to me how old I am.  Both because most serious mystics die young (it is very hard on the body), and because I can sit quietly and trace themes and currents that have been with me all my life.

One set of visions I have found mostly annoying, to be honest.  Until very recently.

At a very busy point in my mystical adventures I felt a sharp poke in my mystical rib-cage.  Poke.  Sharp.  Repeated.

It was the insistence that I stop what I was doing and read a certain book.

Which I thought was absurd.

Now I have thought God’s instructions ridiculous, even stupid, throughout my life, but this one so astounded me that I reasoned that it proved that my visions my whole life were nothing more than the result of mental illness, or the product of a damaged brain, or even the side-effect of a gas leak somewhere in my body that confused things.

I really can’t explain it, though (I wish I could), but when I find myself completely stumped by something given to me by God and I reject it whole-heartedly, somehow and for some reason, I wind up shrugging my shoulders and saying, It won’t hurt anyone or anything to follow the instruction.  For some reason, I always just settle down, become very calm, and go ahead.  Even if I am shaking my head and rolling my eyes as I progress.

So I did it.

I went and bought the book.

I even read it.

And was absolutely horrified.

The book was The Little Red Hen.

It goes like this:

Little Red Hen found a grain of wheat.

“Who will plant this?” she asked.

“Not I,” said the cat. “Not I,” said the goose. “Not I,” said the rat.

“Then I will,” said Little Red Hen. So she buried the wheat in the ground. After a while it grew up yellow and ripe.

“The wheat is ripe now,” said Little Red Hen. “Who will cut and thresh it?”

“Not I,” said the cat. “Not I,” said the goose. “Not I,” said the rat.

“Then I will,” said Little Red Hen. So she cut it with her bill and threshed it with her wings.

Then she asked, “Who will take this wheat to the mill?”

“Not I,” said the cat. “Not I,” said the goose. “Not I,” said the rat.

“Then I will,” said Little Red Hen. So she took the wheat to the mill, where it was ground. Then she carried the flour home.

“Who will make me some bread from this flour?” she asked.

“Not I,” said the cat. “Not I,” said the goose. “Not I,” said the rat.

“Then I will,” said Little Red Hen. So she made and baked the bread.

Then she said, “Now we shall see who will eat this bread.”

“We will,” said cat, goose, and rat.

“I am quite sure you would,” said Little Red Hen, “if you could get it.” Then she called her chicks, and they ate up all the bread.

There was none left at all for the cat, or the goose, or the rat.

The End.

I can still feel how deep the sigh was that I took when I finished this.

Obscene.  That was my reaction.  No mercy.  Just justified selfishness.

I was young then.

The idea of not sharing the bread – no matter how her friends behaved – offended me profoundly.

So I kept on living.

The poke from the corner of the book got me again and again in my visions over the years.

Right.

Chicken.

Wheat.

Lazy friends.

Bread.

Hen gives raspberry to friends, eats bread.

The End.

And so it went for a while.

Then I found scripture increasingly interesting.  These little twists and turns that no one hardly mentions at all.  Of if they do, Jesus becomes something of a circus sideshow and not a man at all.  But they were there: unexpected slaps to my cheek.

It’s a narrow road to get to God.  You follow me, you might get there.  Otherwise, down you fall.  And it’s a long way to fall.

So watch your backs.

You gonna give up all the money you got stashed in the bank back home?  No?  Well, see ya, then.  Watch your step, the first one is a real doozy.

And so on.

While people go around saying that everything Jesus ever did was an expression of love, more and more I realized what a mischaracterization that was.

Tying knots in the straps he used to beat the money-changers.

Flipping the bird at the leaders of the church in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Insulting people right to their faces.

But in the end, what was he really saying?

He was asking, Who is going to follow me?

Not I, said the Pharisee.  Not I, said the scribe.  Not I, said Herod.

Who is going to work with me?

Not I, said Caiaphas.  Not I, said Judas.  Not I, said the crowd.

Jesus, The Little Red Hen.

Who winds up alone with what he created here on Earth.  And is shared only with his own.

God is weird.

So now the book rubbed me wrong in two ways.  The added way was the grief I felt that Jesus had to be The Little Red Hen.  That he had to work, mostly, alone.  That he had to bear the burden of the cross of his life alone.  On his own.

Sure he lay down to be sacrificed.  Sure he did it for us, so that we could feast on his body and blood and become one with with his grace and divinity.

But we had to do our work.  We had to stand by his side.

We had to believe in him.

Then we get to eat the bread.  And drink the blood.

One thing that fascinates me these days is when I look down at my life and I see a series of paths spoking out from a central hub.  And I am on all those paths coming into the hub.  Into the center.

Which is here.

Now.

The moment of It.

It’s Time, he says.  Over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

It’s Time.

I don’t remember when it was exactly, a while ago, when I was told that the Book of Life was closed.  That the judgments have been made and recorded.

For all time.

Interestingly, though, I’ve noticed that when I’ve poked someone who seemed to be slumbering in their faith, I could get some to wake up again.  Turn around, or repent.  Get excited about loving God again.

So while their judgment might be recorded, clearly their final disposition is still open.

It appears, anyway.

So, now, it’s time.

Time for God to appear on Earth.

A time I always dreaded.

No one wants this, trust me.

Just ask Noah.

Right.

So the defensive squad in Heaven, led by Jesus, has been in place for five years or so.

We’re supposed to be assembling here on Earth to be the offensive part of God’s army.

And where are we?

I look about, behind me.  And what do I see?

Pope Francis is wetting his pants over how great a solution abortion is.  Just find a way to get rid of all these mewling brats, will you?

Anglicans in England recently suggested that the Bible stop being read in the church because it makes people feel bad.

And that vast morass that calls itself Protestant or Evangelical finds great reassurance in its own thoughts.  Wanna argue about it?

Talk about a great, big, deep sigh.

Oh, yes, there appears to be a general consensus that trouble is on our doorstep.

So let’s work on not getting along with each other, both in our own churches and with other denominations.

We’re very good at that.

So I got this sense the other day that I, too, was alone.

There is absolutely no one behind me.  Or next to me.  Or even in front of me.

I, too, have become The Little Red Hen.

Which is when, I think, I finally surrendered to the story.

Mostly.

Perhaps God only needs one person on Earth who truly believes in him to accomplish what he wants accomplished.

Perhaps this whole horror will be experienced by us as a breeze against our cheek.

Perhaps the time will come.

And go.

I’m at the end of my willingness to try and work with anyone.  And I think Buddha had a good idea when, when he found himself ready, he went out and found a tree and sat under it until people came to him to talk.  And learn.

So I think I will follow that line of thought: I’ll sit under a tree and wait.  If anyone comes to talk with me, so be it.

I’ll even keep some bread there with me to share.

Even if it’s a stray dog.  Or a person who has done absolutely nothing to deserve a bite.

Because, in the end, in truth, everyone deserves some morsel of mercy.

Even if they don’t.

Amen.

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