The Uses of God
Sometimes I have this dream. It’s a kind of party in the afterlife, and all of my friends are there. Not just my friends, but their best friends, too, like in the Kinks song. I get in the pool and there’s God, and he looks like Kurt Cobain (Jesusy? Definitely!) and little Kurt—without all those shirts, tiny—gives me a big hug, and then we start making out and I have the most incredible head-to-toe rush of the purest, strongest most erotic and agapic love, which is something like all your parents and children and friends and lovers all put together and multiplied by infinity. Sometimes Kurt gives me a little pep talk and tells me to keep at it (whatever “it” is) and sometimes he whispers things in my ear which I can never remember when I wake.
I have never had that feeling in my waking life. I suspect, or hope, it will come back, if I am lucky, as I pass out of this world. I’ve never tried heroin but descriptions make it sound like the next best thing—although one always ends up chasing the same dragon that enchanted you in the first place, never able to capture it again. Such is life. Always incomplete, always chasing after that thing, whatever it is, to momentarily distract you from your own imperfection.
Every one of us feels that essential lack, but some of us seem to feel it more than others. (Hi, my name is Mary and I have a redunkulous-sized hole in my heart.) We’re the people sitting on folding chairs at meetings (of all sorts) in multi-purpose rooms; we can be glimpsed leaving cabs at 2 in the afternoon still got up in party frocks; sometimes you’ll find us in cults, military organizations, or extreme-sporting. All our little efforts, in the end fail, and we’re often left worse off for them, or, frequently, dead.
God is often seen as the solution to this conundrum. But what, exactly, are the uses of God? Can I smoke God? Is there a God-pill I can take each morning? I can eat God, but I must confess I’ve never felt the miraculous benefits of Communion. I always end up looking around wondering if everyone else is thrumming with God, or if it’s a serious Emperor’s New Clothes situation, or maybe I’m not meant to take it literally after all. I can sip God, too, of course. I wonder what it would be like to be drenched in God’s fluids? Would it feel any different? Is there a very tiny section of porn which features women’s faces being splashed with chalices full of wine poured out by rather sinister-looking priests? Have I seen this, already, in a rock video? I digress. We may clothe ourselves in the multicolored threads of God’s love (which I always sort of imagine as sort of Missoni-ish), but if you really are naked and cold, only actual textiles will do. While we can imagine God in any sort of situation, our appetites, and our bodies, demand the real thing, whatever that is, even as we try to escape our earthly existence.
I’ll escape the wanting sooner or later; in the meantime I’ll have to just, what was that, Jesusy Cobain? Ah yes. Keep at it.
Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.