Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An Apatheist's Prayer

A New York man sued his local Catholic church recently after Jesus fell on his leg and mashed it up beyond repair. It wasn't Jesus per se, but a graven image of him, and don't say we hadn't all been warned about that.

The man had been offering prayers at the marble crucifix for some time, hoping to persuade God to intervene on behalf of his cancer-stricken wife (the man's, not God's). And she recovered, and he was grateful, and offered to clean up the crucifix for the church. He tidied around it and then climbed up to wash Jesus' face, and while he was hanging on the cross (the man, not Jesus), the sculpture, which, unlike the man, was inadequately screwed, snapped off at the base and fell  on him. His leg was amputated above the knee, and he got a lawyer.

The story fascinates me because this man and I got the same basic deal--a wafer of time--and have completely different ways of looking at it. Even if I had retained a residual habit of prayer, I would never have presumed my prayers might have that kind of influence (nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt). I probably wouldn't even have sued the church. Not that the man wasn't justified; but I'm the sort of person that won't even send a burger back to the kitchen when I ordered spaghetti.

So the two of us are blundering through our lives with completely different manuals. His life is more orderly and comes with a pilot and operating instructions, and mine is random and chaotic and joyful. He navigates with a map and a destination and a suitcase full of credit and blame, and I bobble around at the mercy of the tides, with marvels at every crest and trough.

Because look. It turns out even space itself is full of crests and troughs, with starlight romping through it. And right here on my home planet, bright feathered dinosaurs nap in the mud and emerge 70 million years later with stories to tell.  Frozen frogs thaw out and hop away in the spring. Summertime bugs flit around with lanterns in their butts. All this is true.

And if that weren't enough, there also lives a toddler made out of--well you wouldn't even believe what he was made out of, it seems so inconsequential; but he started with the most modest materials, and those materials came with instructions to go forth and divide, and in not much time at all, there was an entire boy, and here he stands before me on sturdy legs and crinkles his face at me and calls me Aunt Muh. It's a small face with nothing scribbled on it yet, not judgment or guile, but it's powerful enough to erase my stained past and replace it with a supple, rolling present.

I crinkle back.

Even if I believed the universe had an office in charge of customer satisfaction, which I don't, I would not suppose that my life comes with any kind of warranty. And yet I assume (why not?) that I will live a long time, by human standards, and drift painlessly into oblivion at the end of it. That may not happen, and even if it does, I know I'm on the downward slope and the decades are picking up speed. But what a fortune is mine: I got a ticket on this ride. And so, for the tides of space, and the fireflies, and the little boy, and the astonishment at it all; for all of this, I pray (why not?) that when my last thought drops out of me like a petal into the sea, it will be: thank you.

96 comments:

  1. What an incredible wonderful post. And so we should all end. With "Thank you".

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    1. Let me also say I am grateful for my readers.

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    2. ..And we for you...

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  2. Nice way to go. Appreciation is rare these days; i'm glad to see it in print and from the heart. Thank you for sharing. Gah, he's a cutie or what !~!

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    1. He's cute all the way through. And he's already grateful--or so he signs!

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  3. Lovely, Murr. Gratitude for life - that's a prayer we can all share and anyone would be grateful for your gorgeous nephew.

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    1. He's my great-nephew, but we're not going to make him say Gradant Muh!

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  4. Oh, Murr, what a post! And how wonderful to have a life and to be thankful for it... Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours...

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  5. Wonderful. No, thank YOU. You are a wonderful addition to my life and I look forward to every post. Keep riding those crests and troughs for a long time to come...

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    1. I am thankful your parachute always works, also!

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  6. Beautiful aunt Murr. Thank you for making me smile. Happy Thanksgiving. I'm excited because my circle of small faces is on the way to visit Popi.

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    1. And a wonderful Thanksgiving is thus ensured. Good for you.

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  7. An absolutely beautiful post, Murr. Beautiful. Your closing sentence is...dare I say, almost transcendent?

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    1. I'll have to look that up before I weigh in. Thanks.

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  8. Dear lady. You have no idea how much this post means to me today. I wish I could commit parts of it to memory and hold them like a shield before the brain bits that tend to rebel from time to time. Thank YOU.

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    1. Oh I hate those brain bits. I'm lucky enough that they're usually well outnumbered in my brain, but that doesn't mean I haven't met them. Keep fighting.

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  9. Wonderful, thankful thoughts. Just one more day of work 'til I get to make my assigned green bean casserole and broccoli & spinach vegetable dishes as ticket to entry to see all my wonderful nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews and their crinkly faces. I'll be that much more thankful for them, having read your story. And they will have to suffer through an extra hug from Auntie Bop.

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    1. Auntie Bop! 'Splain, please. I am thankful for green bean casserole. Do you put the canned fried onions on top?

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    2. My real name is Pat - don't tell anybody! One of my nieces couldn't say Pat so she called me Auntie Bop. Her daughter called me Gramma Pie, oddly enough, because I do not possess the pie gene and I do not make pies.

      Yes, I put the fried onions (twice as much as is called for) on top of the green bean casserole. They have giant bags of them at Sam's Club. That is a dangerous thing to have hanging around the house. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and the torturous treatments do not impede scarfing down prodigious quantities of your favorite foods.

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  10. "... the astonishment of it all ..." Thanks for the reminder! This was one of those nights when I tend to forget.

    Aunt Muh is a wonderful name! Unmistakably you. (I got my blog name, "Weeta", from one of my own borrowed kids; her pronunciation, since lamentably improved, of Abuelita, Grandma.)

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    1. I thought that a child might have been responsible for Wanderin' Weeta. We should let children name everyone.

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    2. My brothers call me Slug. They are not bright enough to re-train. Some children should not be allowed to give names.

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  11. Nice thoughts, thankfulness is such a basic important thing for an overaLL life, weLL presented, ironic and fuNNy. Crushed By Jesus, commonly CBJ, wiLL most likely not be covered by the Obama Heal-th Scare Plan, but it would stiLL be worth a look to see if it was currently covered by Mass (a choose sets) Romney Rx Rules. He would just have to move up the coast a ways.

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    1. The gentleman's six-figure medical bills were paid for by charitable organizations, at least in part, but would certainly be paid for by Obamacare, for which I am also thankful.

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  12. Yeah, I guess it has been a pretty good ride so far, but it ain't over yet. At the end I may say, "What? That's it? Okay then."

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    1. Yeah, that also sounds like something I might say.

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  13. And thank God I'm not pregnant! Brilliant post,as ever. Shared on Facebook. Grateful to know you.

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    1. You completely crack me up. On a weekly basis.

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    2. Shazam! If I can make YOU laugh, then I have accomplished my ambition!

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  14. Beautiful, beautiful. Thanks!

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    1. There's that word again! It's a good one.

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  15. What a fantastic post on having gratitude for life! Beautiful, Murr.

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    1. If life is a zero-sum game, I've gotten all the luck, and I'm sorry for whoever had to take the hit.

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    2. I might have used "zero-sum game" wrong there, but I'm too lazy to look it up for the eighteenth time.

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    1. Oh you're welcome. Uplifts are generally available anytime to those who look around. For which I am grateful.

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  17. I'd wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, but I see you're already having it daily. Great post - thanks. :-)

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  18. What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing it! You've given me an uplifting start to the day and great things to think about. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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    1. On top of all that, I heard there's going to be PIE.

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    2. So...Marly-June's coming for dinner?

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  19. This is lovely, just lovely.
    Thank you for writing it and sharing it!

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  20. I concur with the above comments. Well written (as always) and, whether you realize it or not, you, the Apatheist, may be more of a Christian than most of those who claim that title. Thanks to you for this blog that presents Life's daily foibles with humor and, sometimes, a lot of dignity.
    I'll be looking forward to a future post that I somehow think will involve a photo of Dave donning an apron and chef's hat with a turkey carcass featured in it! I know that whatever you write next won't fail to entertain, inform or shock us - and we will all look forward to it. Keep up the good work - and Happy Thanksgiving.

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    1. I will state right here that I'm a big fan of Jesus.

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  21. The best of Thanksgiving wishes for you - that you remain able to find something to be thankful for each day. For in gratitude is happiness.

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  22. Ah Murr, you got the way with the words, you do. I bless them, every one.
    XO
    WWW

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  23. Have to say this... You have made my day with this post. Thanks for the levity, and I'll take credit for the levitation... adult beverages all around, on the house!

    Happy Turkey Day, Aunt Murr!

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    1. I do feel a bottle of red wine coming on.

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  24. "He navigates with a map and a destination and a suitcase full of credit and blame, and I bobble around at the mercy of the tides, with marvels at every crest and trough." Well said. I feel much the same as you. I've bobbled along all my life and it's been a shedload of fun. Maps and destinations have always subtly eluded me.

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    1. I could never follow directions, anyway. Thanks for "shedload." I like it.

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  25. I love apatheist prayers. They're the only ones that make any sense to me. Thank you for that. Have a wonderful thanksgiving everyday.

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  26. Maps and destinations often prove futile. Life has a way of taking us where it will, not where we will it.
    Thank you for the word "apatheist". Perfect.

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    1. I use it a lot. And feel compelled, each time, to say that I regret I didn't come up with it myself.

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  27. If it is true that your life flashes before you when you die - mine will be a double feature: I have no regrets.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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  28. I'm glad you can't see my swollen eyes right now; I'm such a softy and this is such a wonderful post. Happy Thanksgiving.

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  29. Stop that, Murr, you're making me cry.

    Beautiful thoughtful essay.

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  30. I echo the gushing posts, but my main question is: How do you pronounce "Muh"?

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  31. Oh, Murr.....I am speechless at your genius.
    I am so thankful that I found you. You enrich my life.

    Thank you.

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  32. "It's a small face with nothing scribbled on it yet, not judgment or guile,"
    How true and how beautiful. Loved this post. Thanks and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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    1. How can we get back to our own unscribbled face?

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  33. Murr, dear wonderful Murr, that's how I hope to make my exit as well. And perhaps with a small "whoo hooo" on the last exhale.
    From another floater and bobber.

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  34. You're the second person I've met who has described herself as an "apatheist". (One who doesn't know if there is a god and doesn't care.) The first person I heard use that term is a lady in my humanist group who is an ex-Mormon. (She's also a direct descendant of Brigham Young.) This was a beautiful piece of writing!

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    1. Thank you Mikey. There's a whole Wikipedia entry on Apatheism. I wish I'd invented it, but I sure as hell knew it when I saw it.

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  35. Wonderful thoughts, Murr.

    I'm heading in to hibernate. Won't see you until the spring. (That's an advisory, not a threat.)

    Blessings and Bear hugs.

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    1. We will be ready and waiting for you with bacon and daffodils.

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  36. What a wonderful way to go through life, Muh. Eyes and heart wide open. Thanks for such a lovely post!

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  37. Quite possibly, best post ever. Me? I'm thankful that you are having the opportunity to experience the wonder of this little one. That's so cool. Have a great day, Murr.

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    1. I've never been into babies. I'm glad I'm finally old enough to appreciate this one. He's kinda special.

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  38. I must thank Vicki (A Mark on My Wall) for directing me here. Excellent.

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  39. I almost never post anything here and do so fewer times than you may think since I see someone else also uses the ID "Linda D" in her posts. However, I just want to say on this day of thanks that I am ever so grateful to you for sharing yourself with us the way you do. As someone else noted, you enrich my life. You mentioned recently that you finished your novel. When will I be able to get my grubby little hands on a copy?

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    1. Keep them hands grubby. I have two novels now, and the first will sit quietly until I self-publish it probably. The second will do a round with agents until I give up, and then I'll publish that if I have no bites. The two novels are completely different. I'd probably publish the second one first if it comes down to my own efforts.

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    1. Thank you, and while I'm at it, I'll give thanks to all you friendly people who share my posts with your friends.

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  41. What a wonderful read. Thank you Murr. And thanks Dawn, for bringing me here :)

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    1. I'm tickled and thankful you dropped by, gwendolen.

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  42. Ah Murr, how wonderful...and how beautifully stated. Thanks so much for sharing your own special perspective on life, religion, gratitude and sense of wonder. And on all those other topics that you see in unique ways. I'm grateful for much but definitely include access to your writings among my many blessings.

    And that little boy is plum delicious!

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  43. I think you already have, and are, say thank you. And a wonderful perspective it is, too.

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  44. I had to come back and read this one again. I'm so happy I found this blobber of yours, and even happier that you keep blobbin' along.

    Thanks!

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    1. Now I've got that going through my head--when the blog blog blogger goes blob blob blobbin' along...along...

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  45. Holy Cannoli - the guy does something stupid - climbing up and hanging on a cross) and then wants to church to pay for the consequences of his stupidity?

    But yes, gratitude is the way to go.

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    1. Well I can imagine he thought it would hold him. What's really weird is scrubbing a sculpture of an execution. In my opinion, there's no cleaning that up.

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  46. Murr, I'm starting to get the feeling that this starter baby thing is more than a passing fancy! Let me know when he's old enough to shoot, fish, drink, spit, cuss, smoke a pipe and paddle a canoe and I'll send along my gleanings from the last one I helped with. For example, both the Scotch and the boy should be 12 before you introduce them to one another. And if he ain't tough enough for Latakia, he shouldn't be smoking. No fruit flavors in tobacco on a river.

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