Last Friday, the retreat meister said, “I’m looking out at you, and I’m seeing guys who are playing in the fourth quarter, or you’re batting in the bottom of the eighth, and this could be your last chance to smack one out of the park.” Of the seventy of us retreatants, 70% are 70+ or 70-. See how hard some people work to avoid using the “A” word?
Then he said, “So, most of you, and me—the retreat meister is 72—are old. And do you know what God wants for us old fogies?
“He wants for us to be happy old foggies.”
Happy? How about if we go back to the garden and to the apple they ate, which they shouldn’t have. Do we have the scene on Heaven’s desk top? It’s there? Good. Punch delete. Eating the apple did not happen. See? Happy ever after, right?
It doesn’t work that way.
Oh. It doesn’t work that way. While I was arguing with God, the retreat meister was queuing up his next argument.
“You are at a four way stop light. The light is red in your direction. In the other direction, the light is green for one hundred eleven cars. When it goes green in your direction, it is green just long enough for six cars to get through. You are car six.
“The light turns green. Nothing happens. One horn honks. A second honks. Then five horns are really angry. Car #1 blasts through the intersection as if JATO bottles were attached and firing. Cars #2 thru #4 roar thru the intersection on green. #5 goes thru on yellow. You coast to a stop at the line and the red light grins down at you.
“The question is,” Father said, “At that moment, do you want to be God? Jean Paul Sartre wrote something to the effect that man is the only animal who wants to be God. So, I ask again, Retreatants, looking at that red light, knowing the other five got through, and that you should have also, but you didn’t, do you want to be God?”
This is a heavy question. There’s only one place I can go to get an answer. There’s this viewing spot overlooking the Mississippi and set on the edge of a cliff dropping away, well, let’s just say a fer piece down to the river bank. There are two deck chairs on this rock paved viewing area. After Father’s talk dribbled off, I was worried I might not get to there first, but I did.
I sat in one chair and put my feet in the other to discourage company. “Self,” I said,
“do you want to be God?”
I sat a while and contemplated, while down below, that ole man reeber, he didn’t say nothin’. I thought about all the stuff I thought God might do in a day, and I concluded pretty quickly I did not want to be Him. I’m retired. Being God seemed like an awful lot of work. But then I thought about sitting at that stop light seething with justifiable anger, and I decided I would like to be Darth Vader.
I pictured it. The light was red in my direction too long. First, I’d close my eyes and clench my teeth and levitate the five cars in front of me out the heck of my way. Stack them in a parking lot to my left on top of each other probably. Then I’d raise my hands and tendrils of blue lightning would shoot out of my fingers and thumbs and fry the stop light.
Then the drivers in the cars facing the intersection would think: The stoplight got fried. I will stomp on it and go through first.
But Darth engages the Jedi mind control ap. He’d transmit: No. I will let Darth go through first.
And they’d all think: No. I will let Darth go through first.
And I could see me drive my TIE fighter on wheels through the intersection at a leisurely pace, and then I’d give the other drivers at the four-way their minds back.
Oh, yeah! I could be Darth.
Which, on second thought, probably means a trip to the confessional is in order.
Way down below, Old Man River didn’t say anything, but he did nod his head up and down. Pretty vigorously for a guy who has aged a lot more than I have.