A friend once told me he suspected that the world and in fact, life itself, is a kind of divine conspiracy with the single purpose of molding souls – a vale of soul-making, he said. Perhaps that is so. Perhaps the moment we have obtained the right shape, have finally been burnished to his likeness, is precisely the moment when he plucks us off the face of the earth like he did Enoch. Oh Lord, mold me that way, my soul-maker. Make me with each turn of the potter’s wheel more and more authentically beautiful. I understand that you never offered us a world without pain, or rather, that you did, but we rejected it and therefore now have to take the long way about – the 40 year wander rather than the straightforward trip.
There must have been learning in the Garden of Eden, not just stasis. How could we learn the character of you, if we did not transgress? How would we understand? So much mercy and justice, already in that strange and secret fable – how you clothed us in skin still smoky from that first death, and sent us on our way – out into the world, into the long, long path where you had to take thousands, thousands of years to present us with the perfect human, and then only through direct intervention because nothing we could do: not advancement, not education, not evolution, could produce him.
So this is my wilderness, and my promised land. I lean on you, my rod and my staff, I lean on you, heavily and wearily. This is what we were meant to be, cripple and stick, in this version of things. You want to own all my love, and that is utterly fair enough, because my tiny heart is already too small and mean: how could it produce enough love? Only when I love you with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind will I ever be able to radiate you. And then I would be purely love. You are, after all, extravagant. You are like the sheets of rain, pummeling on the zinc roof of my heart. You have guarded my childhood in the bright-curtained room. You have sung in the wind past my window, you have littered your leaves on my grass. My whole childhood has been sitting on a stool, trying to peek at what meal you are preparing in the pot, for me, with only the smells that fill the air for a clue. You were entirely gentle to me, lifting me in the arms of my father when I tripped home and he swung me round in an almost perfect circle. Oh yes, you were present in every corner of my heart, present but unsuspected, present but not consciously bidden, from the sweet toffee rolls I loved to sneak out to buy, to the dark green shade of the pong pong tree. You were the legs I hugged and the shelves I climbed, reaching for that slightly out of reach, slightly battered paperback. You were the quiet corner I cried in in the cold blast of the library, you were in the gurgle of the school fountain. You were the whitewashed wall I stood attention by, silently waiting for me to turn to you. You were the perfect circle I approximated with the twirl of a ribbon on a string in the courtyard in the sun; you were the perfect balance of the plastic dragonfly, bobbing up and down gracefully on my finger.
You were the drains I ran down, followed by a flood of paper boats.
You were the geometry of trees I walked past.
You were the overhead bridge I walked over every morning.
You were the sunshine spilled on the asphalt.
You were the the fresh bright air I breathed in the mornings, you were everything I have truly loved – and you alone know what those things are, because of that, even my own heart does not know.
You are my best heart, the only good I’ve ever done
was done in childish mimicry of you.