God's In-Box

Rohit Khare (khare@w3.org)
Thu, 5 Dec 1996 22:02:45 -0500

[Boy, would I like to give Pele *my* rock... mabye AA's onto something

From: http://www.salon1999.com/dec96/lamott961202.html=20

Sometimes we need a little
help from Upper Management.=20

say you have a problem, something
that is driving you crazy, something
you need and want an answer to.
Maybe the problem is romantic in
nature, or has to do with your career.
Maybe a decision needs to be reached
that involves one of your kids, or
your spouse, or an aged parent or pet.
You feel like you really need to go left
or right but you have no idea which
way to turn. Maybe you feel just a
little scared, maybe profoundly
anxious; maybe you've even
developed facial tics and early-stage

If you're at all like me, you're torn
between really wanting to know what
God's will is for you, and just
desperately wanting this one thing to
happen, this one thing to turn out this
one particular way. And you keep
feeling this, even though you
remember the amazing scene at the
end of "The Mission," where the
warrior, played by Robert DeNiro,
comes to see the priest, Jeremy Irons,
to seek his blessing in the battle
ahead, and the priest says, "If what
you are about to do is God's will, then
you don't need my blessing. And if it's
not, then my blessing isn't going to

You remember that and still: You
frantically want the guy to call; you
want the project to be a huge success;
you want the authorities to let your
brother off the hook. Whatever. A
small part of you, a crescent
moon-shaped part of you, wants to be
in alignment with God's will, because
you have reason to believe that you
are fucked unto the Lord if you
somehow get your own will to prevail.
But a louder part of you secretly
believes that you alone know what the
best possible outcome would be, for
all parties concerned, even with a
lifetime of evidence to the contrary.
And you are prepared to use the sheer
force of your personality and
character to get it to happen.=20

It's a terrible feeling, isn't it =97 the
self-will run riot? Here you long to
inwardly resemble the Dalai Lama
humming to himself, or Therese of
Liseux at dawn Christmas morning in
prayer. And instead, on the inside,
you're feeling like Roy Cohn with the
flu and bad coffee nerves. Or a dog
with a chew toy. A crazy little dog.=20

A crazy, bad little dog with issues:
That's where the self-will takes me.
First there's all this terrible Jurassic
roaring and posturing, the wrestling to
the ground, the snapping and
gnawing, the growling. And then
there's an unearthly quiet, the
isometric moment of silence just
before the electrical storm. And then
suddenly the toy is flung, tossed up
and over the body, and great
excitement pours forth like lava as the
toy is searched for and captured
again; and then dominated, chewed,
ripped at, drooled over.=20

But eventually I am too tired to
continue and my head has become
too uninhabitable, and I realize I've
been driving this rickety
temperamental old bus of my mind
around for too long. I've lost all sense
of direction and am feeling confused
and pissed off and bitter and resentful
and nuts; but then finally, finally just
tired. I begin to worry that I have had
or am having a complete nervous
breakdown, and that I am about to
start weeping or barking and won't be
able to stop. Sometimes I still look
more or less okay on the outside =97
except for the tics, which can actually
be pretty unsightly =97 but inside I'm
feeling a little bit more like Ted
Kaczynski than I like to. And I realize
I'm just crazier than a shithouse rat;
and that it's all hopeless. And that the
sun is burning out.=20

This is the point at which I am willing
to try using a God-box, because, as is
often true in life, the willingness
comes from the pain. The most
profound sense of willingness I ever
experienced was eight years ago,
when I got pregnant by a man who
was extremely unhappy about this
news. First I tried to self-will him into
being excited; but he just about lost
his mind. I was not doing much
better, and eventually got out my
God-box. It was just a little wooden
box someone had given me once, that
I'd decided would be God's in-box.
But I was deeply depressed and
hormonally challenged up the
yin-yang and lonely and poor and
crazy. I felt like my life would be
ruined if I had a child by myself, but
that my soul might die if I had the
abortion I had scheduled. So I wrote a
note to God. I said that I was willing
to have an abortion, if that would be
best for me and the fetus, and I would
be willing to have a baby if God had
some tricks up His sleeve. And I
promised I was not going to do
anything at all until I heard from Him.

Then I folded up my note, put it in
the box, and waited.=20

Have I mentioned that waiting is
perhaps not my strong suit? But every
time I either decided to go ahead with
the abortion, or pictured myself
nursing a little Gerber baby, I
remembered that I was waiting for an
answer from God. I didn't cancel my
appointment for an abortion, but by
the same token, I didn't buy any
maternity clothes, either. I simply
waited to hear.=20

I don't understand why it would hurt
so much if just once in His life, He
used a megaphone. But He never
does. I find this infuriating. But what
happens when I put a note in the
God-box is that the phone rings, or
the mail comes; and I hear from Him
that way.=20

And a few days later, just when I was
losing faith, the phone rang. A sober
friend named Tom had just returned
from Hawaii and told me about a
group of people he'd met there. They
were members of Alcoholics
Anonymous, and so on a daily basis
they tried to turn their wills and their
lives over to the care of God, as each
of them understood God. Some of
them loved Jesus; some were Jews;
some turned to the same mountain the
first natives had bowed to before.
Some were Buddhists and did not
have the sense of a personal God, and
so turned their wills and lives over to
the care of Good Orderly Direction,
or to the Group of Drunks. I like to
think that some even turned to
Howard, who can be kind of a generic
god for agnostics, a big warm caring
galoot of divine presence =97 Howard,
as in, "Our father, who art in Heaven,
Howard be thy name." Anyway, Tom
reported over the phone that this
group of Hawaiian drunks had a
meeting whose topic was about the
3rd Step, about letting go, and the
name of this meeting was Drop the
Rock. The Drop the Rock meeting
was based on the understanding that
left to our own devices, we =97 as a
species =97 tend to lug these big rocks
around. They are the rocks of our
concerns. Everytime we get up, we
reach down for our big rock and then
we lug it out the door, down the
stairs, and roll it into the back seats of
our cars. Then after we drive
someplace, we open the back door,
get out our rock, and carry it with us,
wherever we go. Because it's our
rock. It is very important to us and
we need to keep it in sight. Also,
someone could steal it.=20

So these Hawaii drunks suggest that
you practice dropping the rock. That
you put it down, on the ground at
your feet. And that you say to God,
to Mary, to Pele, Jehovah, Jesus, or
Howard: "Here. I'm giving you the
rock. YOU deal with it."=20

When I heard this, I realized that
more than anything, I wanted to put
down my rock. My psychic arms
ached from carrying it. I got my note
out of the God-box, and I re-read it,
and then I folded it back up and said
to God, "Here. Look at me =97 I am
putting down the rock. It's in your
hands now. RSVP."=20

Maybe it's about turning one's
attention from what's holding us
enthralled. Maybe it gives us a little
room and a sense of fresh air, and
with that comes some kind of healing
breath. Maybe it gets us to stop
looking in the one direction where we
think the mountain is going to rise up
before us, and so instead, with our
minds free to wander and bob, we
notice pathways and even airy glades
we hadn't see before. I do not have
any idea how it works, only that two
weeks later, I woke up from a very
clear and specific dream, and I smiled
in joy, even though I was full of fear,
because I knew I was going to keep
the baby. And I did, and we have
been abundantly provided for every
step of the way.=20

Over the years I've used brown paper
bags and pockets: I've used rivers, a
leather Native American pouch. I
have buried my notes in the ground; I
have thrown them into fires, but I
usually use the same box I used when
I was pregnant. That way, when I
write a new note to God, I first get to
take out old scraps of paper that held
earlier problems, all of them grievious
and unsolvable.=20

The other day I went to put a note in
the box, about this guy with whom I
have fallen in love, and I found a
scrap of paper from last year, when
Sam's pediatrician couldn't figure out
why his bloodwork was so funky and
had actually began to consult
oncologists. The world, as you can
imagine, came to a halt, and all I
knew to do was to pray for courage
and faith, and to put it in the
God-box. A week or so later the
doctor discovered that Sam is allergic
to dust mites. That morning I took out
the bit of paper on which I'd written
Sam's name, and turned my head
towards the sky. I said, "Jesus,
honey? I don't even know where to
start. I feel like You're showing off
again; so thank You. Thank You.
And give my best to Howard." Then I
put the note back inside, so I'd find it
again, and remember.=20