15 More Stories from the Oak

Therefore be at Peace

“Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.”

Here I will allow my stories to devolve a little away from fact and weave themselves. That is, this is based on true people- how can it not be?- but you will search long and hard to find a perfect fit for the situation I describe.

The priest, the man who believed that there was a God, he was shaped like a man but perfect, lived alone. He had lived alone for years, not because he did not get along with people, but because he had entered into a relationship with God. In those moments were the drips of water set the beat of the night, the man found God in his youth. In these moments when no one was watching him, he realized that somebody was. Outside, to the left of his head first, then down by his right hand, little touches gentle as a cat kneads its master. Insistent, yes, but threatening they were not. He gave into them, gave into their gentle imploring nature, their slow beat, like the water that drives people crazy late at night.

He was crazy, his friends said, mad. God comes to nobody. In those moments where no one is watching, the only one watching is yourself, the cruelest of all observers. No God. No touch. But feel the touch, he was convinced he did. Off he went, to a place where walls of wood did not describe to him his solitude, did not color his life with doubt. And he lived, lived with God. Touching his shoulders as he slowly slouched forward, felt their push as he fixed his simple meal, and at night where he had first felt the knuckles, he was not alone.

I could allow this story to devolve into a morality story, one in which a young boy knocks on his door, tells the priest that he felt the touches too, but it was not God, it was the devil. I could allow things to spin in the opposite direction, paint the picture of the woman in town who felt alone when alone, but when together felt the gentle presses, but it was a non-physical caress. I could, but I will not. Life dictates that things do not always fit into neat packages, able to be devoured at the reader’s pleasure, able to be tasted like a truffle in a box.

This man, he lived alone, and one day the touches stopped coming. One day he felt nothing when he got up, nothing when he moved, laughed, talked, or smiled. God, he said, had left him. What to do, he thought? Death was not an option, there was only hell there, for where else could a man who had lost the touch go? Life was not an option either, for in life where there had been the joy of a pair, now there was the pain of one.

It is interesting, no, that the two words be so related. Pain and pair. One addition of a stroke, one line, and a pair becomes a pain. So too had his life broken, so too had his precarious position fallen. One brush stroke of life, and his life had broken like a spider web in the wind.

No life, no death, no options but the middle, the one that did not exist. He did not live, but neither did he die. A godless man, lost. The world no longer appeared to him, blind either because his eyes themselves no longer saw or because his mind did not ask them to. Lost, so how could he know that when his day came, whether he was alive or dead?

What world was he in, when he found his God? Like a corpse pushing up through the gentle dirt of a fresh grave, the priest pushed gently at his own skin, and there was his God once again. All alone in a cabin, this man recreated his God.

Where is God in this sometime symbolic and other times strange story? Is it in the touch of the man, in the sense of the exterior, the fear of the interior?

Where is God, when a man is lost? Well, look left, look right, look up. For me, I look down. Find God where you need to find it. I myself, have found God not in the gentle touches of my fingers on skin, but in fingers on soil.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.