Sitting in my third year philosophy class, I had no idea that the questions could be so real at 35.
Is God a watchmaker then? Is he the a priori creator of the universe, the omni, omni who called the world into being, caused it and made it and then spun it off into the heavens, where he watches us, from afar?
Or is God a tinkerer? A sort of paternal mad experimenter who pokes and prods, oils and greases the workings of the universe, listening for a gear out of tune? Does he watch us, with a dirty leather apron, smelling faintly of engine grease and sweat?
I prayed between the inducement and the birth of my son. I prayed like I have never prayed before or since. I do not lie when I tell you that it didn’t occur to me to ask God to save my life. My son. My baby. My good Friday to Easter Sunday, not triumphant. I prayed and prayed and God said no. My son died in my arms. I prayed for the babies I carried for just a bit. I prayed over all those cycles that yielded nothing. I used to believe that God was a tinkerer.
It didn’t occur to me to ask God about the MS. My old faith said that God was a tinkerer and there was a never a moment that he couldn’t save me and change the course of well, everything. This time? When would I have prayed? By the time I was in the MRI machine the lesions were there or not. By the time I got the results it was a done deal. Prayer – this time I have realized – was never about saving me anyway.
I have to tell the younglings on Friday. I have to tell them that I have MS and things are going to change. Maybe now. Maybe not. I kept saying that it wouldn’t be that bad – at least I said this in my head. I told myself that I wasn’t that important to the younglings. It’s not like I was their mother or even really their aunt. Mr. Spit tried to suggest that I might be under estimating my importance. The minion told me that the my idea was “bullshit”.
I can tell everyone else, and it won’t be fun, but they are adults. We have a more equal existence. We move between the bonds of friendship, giving and taking. My job with the younglings though – that’s different. My job is to pour into them so they become adults. My job is to love them where they were, to help them make the next step. My job is to believe in them so strongly, with such fierceness that they have no choice but to believe in themselves. My job is to be that very last bridge between almost-adulthood and adulthood.
So last night I laid awake and I bargained with God.
You can’t bargain with a watchmaker.
I want to not be important to them because I feel a very real risk that I will fail them. This one last thing I have to teach the younglings – trying to show them grace in the face of hard things. I’m ok with that. Right up until the point when it hurts them. Right up until the point when I can’t do something that I want to be able to do.
God is a watchmaker and he’s not going to save me from MS. The most he will ever do in this world he ordered is give me better strength to bear it. (I should point out, I’m not doing well at this right now). But last night, as I lay awake I wished he could be something else. Or, at least I wished I could believe something else about him.
Call me small, tell me that it’s because I don’t like appearing weak. Maybe. I think it’s a bit more. Hurt me as much as you want, God the watchmaker. Throw that world into being and let entropy take over.
Just please, this – can you keep it from the ones I love?