Friday, July 30, 2010

Transcript of a prayer

Angelic host

What I really want to write about is 'faith'. However, I somehow feel I need to begin with my own beliefs. My faith consists of both what I choose to believe and what I choose not to believe. They lie outside the realm of what I can comprehend using my own reasoning and logic - because I don't need faith to 'believe' in what I can 'know'. So faith constitutes what ever that is left after I have separated the known from the unknown. So it follows that we all 'believe' in what we do not 'know'. God, Karma, Nirvana, Rebirth, Reincarnation - are all articles of faith. We can choose to believe in them - and I think it is perfectly rational to do so - but we cannot yet 'know' for sure that they exist. I believe in God, but I am also aware of the nature of my faith to be honest enough to admit that I don't actually know for sure whether God really exists. I don't find it a paradox, perhaps because I understand 'faith' and 'reason' to be mutually independent. This is where my personal faith in God differs from most established religious doctrines. I am acutely aware that my faith is not 'reasonable', because faith - by definition - cannot be reasonable

Therefore my belief - my chosen faith in God - do not conform to any theological doctrine outside of my own conscience; and I suppose it is only natural that my prayers don't either. Perhaps for that same reason, I am not overtly religious. In fact I surprise myself by publishing this. But I am keen to separate my beliefs from the few things I know or hope to know. I do not subject my faith in God to be dissected by reason because I think it is a useless exercise. Neither do I want to substitute my faith in God where I should rather apply logic and reason, or opt to 'believe' things which I should rather seek to understand. Reason and logic has never lead me to, or away from God.

So yes, I believe in God, but I don't pray to God nearly as often as I ought to. Then again, I don't know anyone who does. When I do pray though, my prayers usually go like this one which I penned many, many, many many (four) years ago.

I hope you don't get too distracted and assume it's all about a girl; because it is not. It is more about 'life' itself and the need I have to include 'God' and 'prayer' in it.

Me: Lord, can you spare a minute for me?

God: Hey… it’s been a while… how's life?

Me: What do you mean "it's bean a while"? I was in church this morning!

God: Oh… yeah... right... I should have remembered… sorry! (Grins…)

Me: Do you ever pay attention to anything that goes on in church...?

 God: No… I mean YES... of course... What is it you want to talk about?

Me: Well… it's a bit complicated… there's a fair bit to explain. That's why I asked you whether you are free… are you sure you've got enough time?

God: Well, I am ok with time I suppose… but why don't we get started and see how far we can go… if we run out of time, we'll do the rest some other time. Does that sound ok?

Me: Well, that's fine… how have you been holding up?

God: Not too bad… not too bad at all… a bit busier than usual, but I am not complaining. I mean… I do like my job, ‘I find it exciting and challenging’ (smirk)… so ‘the hard work usually is its own reward’ (grin). Now tell me what's bothering you.

Me: Nothing is bothering me… well… then again, maybe something is… I mean… as I said, it's complicated.

God: Ok... just go on… spill it out. I am not going to interrupt you

Me: Thanks! And another big "THANKS" for sticking with me during the past couple of months… Getting the thesis out of the way took quite a bit of work – and you know… I couldn't have done it without you. I mean… you were really awesome.

God: Gosh… you are welcome man!

Me: Hey… you said you won't interrupt!

God: But I didn't… (And turning to Cherubim beside him) did I interrupt him?

Cherubim: Technically you didn't, but…

Me: Hey… sorry… nothing personal Cherubim… just that this is about something a bit personal… so I would appreciate some privacy…

Cherubim: Sorry... you should have said so earlier…

Me: No it's ok… honestly! I didn't mean to be rude. Shall I continue please?

God: Yeah… you are not going to be here all night…

Me: Thanks for reminding me. Anyway, as I was saying, it's not really a problem… it's actually this little puzzle… I mean… I don't even know whether it's a puzzle in the first place… that's sort of why I came to you… to find out for sure whether it's a puzzle in the first place… Do you get what I'm saying?

God: Is that a trick question?

Me: Hey, don't play dumb with me… I know that you know exactly what I am talking about!

God: Maybe I do know what you are talking about, maybe I don't. But what do you expect me to do?

Me: Hello… I would appreciate a few clues here… I mean… please…

God: Heh… heh… if it's a puzzle, its up to you to solve it and find out the answer for yourself isn't it?

Me: So are you saying that it IS a puzzle?

God: I didn't say that!

Me: Here… seriously… I don't need this… You know I have had enough of this… you tempt me with these puzzles and I end up spending a lot of time and energy and emotional capital on them… and it has all been a total waste of time… not to mention the disappointment. All I am asking is to know whether this is real. Isn't it only fair that you at least tell me whether this is real or not?

God: "Emotional capital"? Hold on… don't tell me that this is just one big business proposition for you!

Me: You know what I meant by that! Don't twist my words… I would never expect you to twist my words. I take your point though… but the thing is it's quite an accurate description of the situation. I mean, you know I am quite a sucker for these things… but as I mature, and with every harsh experience, I feel like I am gradually becoming insensitive to my own feelings. I don't want to be like that. I want to be able to empathise with others and feel and appreciate my own emotions. But that's beside the point. I want you to tell me if this is my real puzzle.

God: What makes you so sure that I know? As I said before, maybe I do… maybe I don't…

Me: Are you kidding me… you know everything!

God: Who told you that?

Me: Actually a Lot of people say that.

God: They also obviously told you a lot of other crap that they had no freaking clue about. I am surprised to see that you have just taken their word for it. How convenient for you!  It all depends on how you act out of your own free will… you know that!

Me: Fine… but I sort of like these arguments. I really miss having someone around who could sustain an engaging argument with me.

God: Well… I am always around if you want…

Me: Yeah right! (Laughs)… Well, thanks… I know that… and I always appreciated that. But what I meant was…

God: (Laughing) Yeah... I know what you meant. So this girl you like… do you think she could "sustain an engaging argument" with you? (Still laughing…)

Me: What girl…?

God: Now you are kidding me!

Me: But even I don't know whether I like her. I mean… we barely know each other! Besides…

God: Are you giving excuses… trying to cover up your feelings…

Me: You just interrupted me again!

God: Sorry… but I had to… and now you are trying to avoid my question.

Me: You know… its amazing how you always turn these conversations around.

God: What do you mean?

Me: I came to ask you whether this is the real puzzle this time. You know very well that I am not in the mood for any silly games or decoys… but before I know it, you are asking me whether I think this girl is the sort who could "sustain (an engaging argument with) me"… if you didn't understand me the first time, let me be a bit more blunt – how about you tell me whether she'd be able to sustain an argument with me? How about you tell me whether she's the centre piece of the puzzle we are talking about?

God: Loosing the temper are we? Besides, is that what you want from a relationship – someone to argue with?

Me: You know I never loose my temper… and you also know that I know when you are avoiding my questions. But the answer to your question is a complicated "yes"!

God: A "complicated yes"?

Me: Yes. I mean… the fact that you can sustain an engaging argument with someone tells you a lot about your relationship doesn't it. I mean, to sustain a meaningful argument, both parties have to be mature enough to understand that an argument is not a fight and that it's ok to disagree. They also have to have a great deal of respect for each other. And when an argument heats up and some of the words seem harsh sometimes, you should know enough about each other to trust… no, not just trust, but know for sure… never doubt each other’s love… you need to know that the argument itself is secondary and that the love you share is unconditional… disagreements open up opportunities to really get to know each other… They are like stepping stones to a deeper understanding. But you also need trust, to know that the other person is speaking the truth… and respect the other to be truthful yourself. You need to be able to rely and depend on the other never to get judgemental or personal. So in a way, I guess there's a good chance that I could have a healthy relationship with someone whom I can argue with. (Smiling…) Besides… an argument can be a real turn-on… (Laughing…)

God: Hmmm… interesting point of view… and come to think of it, we could take it for granted that this relationship is a good example of that! (Laughing…)

Me: Don't get your hopes up. You don't have a hope of ever turning me on… (Laughs…) Now I have answered your question… but you haven't answered mine!

God: So is that what I am here for now… just to answer your questions?

Me: No… ok… I'm sorry. But I told you I need your help with this. I mean… I need your help most of the time… but especially with this.

God: But you like puzzles. No, you Love puzzles… so why can't you solve this and find out for your self… I will help you if you like. We have done this before haven't we?

Me: Sure we've done this before. But I am the one who's got anything to loose!

God: Don't say that!

Me: But isn't that the truth? I am the one who always suffer. And for what? I mean… why should I bother to find out anything when all I've found out so far is what a sad excuse for a man I can become when I open up myself to be so vulnerable? All I have found out is that it's not even worth trying to find out. I have never progressed beyond "finding out" anyway. I have tried to be noble about it, and never rationed the out pour of my heart, yet all I have ever found out was that everything I have earned so far is for my own keeping – that I will never have the joy of sharing them with anyone.

God: "Anyone" or "Someone"?

Me: Is ‘semantics’ all you care about? Or do you care at all?

God: I do care. I know you know that I do. But you make it sound as if your whole life has been nothing but miserable and lonely... and that all that you have achieved amounts to nothing.

Me: So it's my fault now?

God: Nobody is at fault. But, you have no reason to feel sorry for yourself - if only you learn to appreciate how much courage it takes to let yourslef become so vulnerable. I hope you don't give up the fight because I want to know you have what it takes to pick yourself up and take those risks all over again. There is no other way to face life! If that's not 'being a man about it' tell me what is?

Me: But I don't have time to waste. Tell me when the real thing comes by and I will do it all over again. Untill then, I can't be bothered.

God: What you fail to admit is that if ever you are able to appreciate the real 'puzzle' one day, it is because you know what the fakes are. You have lost nothing. You may have not yet got what you wanted, but that doesn't mean you've lost anything. But it will be sad if you cannot appreciate the things you've gained out of each experience.

Me: But I think I would have been able to appreciate the 'real puzzle' anyway. I didn't absolutely need all this rubbish to "heighten my appreciation" of all the things I don't have.

God: Looks like hindsight has made you wise. I know you are smarter than to actually believe what you just said. So I won’t argue with you for the sake of an argument. If we are to gain anything from this, we both have to respect each other enough to be honest like you just said. You know that I am only trying to make you find the answer for yourself. I am not asking for much… just admit what you already know so that we could have an honest conversation here! How difficult is it for you to admit that your life has been full of deep satisfaction and an abundance of good things all the way. Even despite the fact that you had to bear those joys and a few tears all by yourself?

Me: The point is, I don't know what to think. That's why I came to you in the first place. I mean, this is a whole new experience for me this time. I am confused. But I feel this connection… the amazing bond between our souls that I have never felt before…

God: You are over dramatizing this…

Me: Ok... maybe I am making it sound too dramatic… but would you care to explain how all the dots connect with this one? I mean… look at what's been going on… the shear coincidence of meeting her in two different places when the odds are so remote – not to mention the facts that made me notice her. Then I find out that we are not so far apart in many ways after all.

God: Yeah… But you placed all those dots on the board and you yourself connected them. I can imagine what a pleasant surprise the picture would have been! (Grinning…) But what makes you think I have been conjuring a secret plan "behind the curtains"? (Laughs…)It's all in your mind.

Me: Is this one big practical joke for you? I am sorry, but I am not amused. Whose genius was it then to give me hope of a chance to meet her again? What sort of coincidence is that?

God: I thought you of all people would know that there is no such thing as coincidence!

Me: Actually, I don't know that. And I am not going to speculate anything at this time. That's precisely why I decided to ask you. And please, you owe me an honest and straightforward answer this time.

God: I don't owe you anything. And you don't owe me anything either.

Me: No… I didn't mean it that way… I don't come to you to settle debts – you know that. But if I may borrow someone else's words, why can't you just "tell me and end this torment"? You know very well that I can't afford to speculate. I can't afford to be hopeful about the hopeless. I don't think I can survive that anymore. I am scared… I really am. Sometimes I doubt. For once, I just want to know. It doesn't matter what the truth is, I just want to know.

God: Do you really? But you don't… I know that about you. You never wanted anyone to tell you how things are or how they are going to be. You always wanted to find out on your own, in your own time, by your own methods.

Me: Hmmm… why are you doing this? I mean… how is it that you know precisely where my weaknesses are and exactly when to strike them?

God: Is that what you think I am doing?

Me: No… I mean... I suppose they are actually my strengths and you sometimes turn things around so that I can focus my strengths instead of my weaknesses on the problem.

God: Was that a "Thank you"?

Me: You are a sucker for appreciation aren't you?

God: Don't insult my modesty.

Me: Hey… tell that to the people who are obsessed with the idea that the whole point of their lives is to "sing your praises" and "worshiping" you. They are the ones who are insulting your modesty!

God: This conversation is not about them. It's about you.

Me: Yes. Forgive me for that. I didn't mean to look down on any one. I mean, I am quite sure each individual is free to think and do as they please and it's not for me to judge them. But getting back to the point, I don't think I have found the answer that I was looking for.

God: Are you sure you are asking the right questions?

Me: Give it up. If you are trying to sound like the Dalai Lama, you suck at it! (Laughing…)

God: (Laughing…) Geezzzz… I didn't mean to. Can't you be a bit more subtle with your insults! But seriously, what's your problem anyway. I think you should be more than happy to go all the way and find out for yourself. I mean, keep an open mind. Try not to get infatuated with the idea… I mean… you got to go with your instincts… and just be yourself. I am sure that's good enough.

Me: The problem is… I'm not sure anymore. I mean, I used to trust my instincts and I sure thought I had this sixth sense about people, but I don't know that anymore. I am not sure whether I can trust my instincts because I have been wrong on occasions. I realise that there's a chance that I may be wrong this time as well… that even when my assessment of certain things is accurate, there is so much I simply do not know, and those things can reverse everything I do kno.

God: I know what you mean. But the thing is, if you don't trust yourself, how can you expect someone else to?

Me: Well… actually, I don't expect anyone to trust me per se.   What makes you think I expect that?

God: Ok, let me rephrase. Do you think your family and friends trust you?

Me: Hmmm… I suppose so. At least some of them trust me… as for some; I am not sure if it is trust they have in me or just expectations. I mean… I like the fact that people expect a lot from me… and I realised that I want to live my life in such a way that people will always expect the highest and the best from me.

God: It doesn't matter whether it is trust or expectations… have you ever let them down… have you betrayed their trust or disappointed those who expected much of you?

Me: I honestly don't know the answer to that. I honestly think I may have sometimes. I have tried my best to do what I thought was right. I often tried to follow my heart… but sometimes I have sacrificed what I wanted so that I could please someone else… I have sometimes tried to fill the gaps between people's expectations and my responsibilities. There are times I have been selfish too. But I don't know whether I have let them down in any way. You will have to ask them about that.

God: I think you have done a pretty good job so far.

Me: Am I having this conversation with my own ego-possessed conscience?

God: That was a compliment, but if you don't know how to take it, that's not my problem.

Me: But, I didn't come to you to satisfy my own ego.

God: I was just trying to show you that a lot of people in your life trust you, and that you have earned that trust well. So there's no reason for you, not to trust yourself.

Me: Should I trust myself just because others trust me?

God: No, it is almost always the other way round. But you just said that you are not sure whether you could really trust yourself. So I pointed out that there are many others who trust you… and therefore it must be because you actually trust yourself.

Me: Impressive logic! You are good.

God: I am not here to satisfy my ego either. (Grins…)

Me: Ok. Where were we?

God: We are right here. You don't have to back-track to find your answer. The point is that you need to trust yourself - because you can trust yourself. There's nothing wrong with your judgement. It's just that your mind sometimes gets cluttered and you fail to hear the little voice in the back of your head. Keep that in mind and just carry on. You should be fine.

Me: But I am still not satisfied, because you haven't answered my question yet.

God: Do you mean to say that you have found what you came looking for, even though I haven't answered your question?

Me: Sort of… actually, I don't think I could extract anymore information from you than I already have. Even if I bug you for millennia, you are not going to tell me what's to come.

God: You have better things to do with your time than interrogate me, expecting me to give you a horoscope reading. Trust me!

Me: Better things like what?

God: Like get on with life. Be enchanted by its mysteries, solve its wonderful puzzles, appreciates the precious gifts that life has to offer and embrace its laughter and tears with the same zest. Give it your best and see... after all, there's much to gain from all that.

Me: But what about her?

God: Which "her"?

Me: There's only one 'her'! Don't bother tickling my sense of humour… it's all but worn out.

God: What a pity. I liked your humour.

Me: Why are you trying to distract me? (Frustrated…)

God: Ok… help me out here… I mean… what about her? If you are asking me again, whether she's the one, well, I am sorry I may never know that because it's up to the two of you to figure that out. "It takes two" you know. You guys take chances everyday. Some calculated risks and some uncalculated ones. Each day brings you many moments that take a bit more courage than the rest… or moments that stands out because they are more joyful... or sorrowful than the rest…. or ones that make you doubt… others that are reasuring. Some moments are more memorable than the rest… your days and hers are strewn with such moments. Sometimes you create those moments and sometimes others do it for you. What you get out of them depends on how you react. So, what you do and how you both react will determine the answer to your question. You can't always make good things happen, but you can give it your best and see what happens. Remember this though; while you try to fulfil your own desires, you have no right to expect others to give up their own.

Me: Isn't this getting a bit too philosophical?

God: Why should that bother you? You told me you had all but lost your sense of humour! So I thought you'd be in the mood for a good dose of philosophy. Sad people like philosophy.

Me: I would have cracked more jokes if I knew that the lack of humour was going to make you get overly philosophical…

God: Is that what's left of your humour?

Me: Yeah… sadly! Anyway… thanks. It was nice talking to you…

God: Cut out the formalities…

Me: See, you interrupted me again! (Grinning…) No…I really meant it. The humour and the philosophy… all of it were just great… and I found it very meaningful…

God: Don't you find that all our conversations are meaningful?

Me: Err… no… I mean, kneeling through some of those "prayer meetings" used to be dreadful… and some of those songs were unbearable... Don't get me wrong, the choir and all was great... but then again, there were some nasty sermons you've made me endure… (Laughs…)

God: Oh please… don't get me started on those! Anyway... what are you complaining about? I am the one who had to listen through all those hours without ever getting a chance to utter a word in reply! (Laughs…)

Me: Is that why some of those prayers went unanswered?

God: None of those prayers went unanswered.

Me: None?

God: Why do you think we are having this conversation? What makes you oblivious to the fact that this very conversation is proof that every single prayer is answered and always has been?

Me: Honestly I don't get that logic.

God: Now who's playing dumb?

Me: I never got that mountain bike I prayed for. And so I rest my case.

God: I don’t own bloody Lumala, so go get one yourself! Court dismissed.

Me: But the attorney has not even entered the court yet.

God: She may already be in court for all you know… or on the other hand, maybe she will never come. Either way, you will be ok. What you need is a psycho therapist if you ask me!

Me: Well, you did make me in YOUR own image!

God: True, but I may have been a bit distracted by the donkey I had created a few minutes earlier.

Me: Ok… let's cut it out. I get your point. And hey… Thanks again.

God: Anytime Brother!

Me: Am I supposed to say "Amen"?

God: Amen.

Me: Amen. (Grins…)