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God talks with Jeffrey as they walk along an empty beach

Chapter 1: Jeffrey Meets God 

On a cold winter's evening in a dreary supermarket I looked into the glowing smile of a tired cashier and saw God who reached out from that smile, took my hand and pulled me across many dimensions to a warm yet empty beach of another time. Together we walked beneath the ever changing sky that was cloudy one moment, red the next and star filled the next.

I know not how I knew she was God, for although bringing me to this unearthly beach was a supernatural feat, God herself took the form of a young woman, not more than 25 years of age, with a cheap haircut and splotchy complexion of an underpaid supermarket cashier. In spite of her plain face and bland figure, she was remarkably beautiful. Her shop smock had been replaced by a flowing white dress that danced in the wind.

We walked along the beach as the sky changed with hyperactive energy. She took my hand and spoke. “I am disappointed in you, my children,” she told me, gazing through me and out into the sea. “You have not matured in centuries. You have wrapped my words of universal love, compassion and understanding into a web of medieval rituals and beliefs that have more to do with hurting my children than loving them. Worse, so many of my children hurt each other in my name, as if I would ever harm one of my children? What loving mother would or could do such a thing?

“Yet you my children place more priority in how the others believe in me, in what rituals they perform, than you place in loving each other As if I care whether or not anyone believes in me! What loving mother cares more that people believe in her existence than that people treat her children well?”

An avowed atheist for years, I was relieved that God seemed unconcerned about my lack of belief. I only hoped that I had led a sufficiently blameless and noble life so as to be accepted by her. Yet, I was also curious. There are many branches of Christianity, not to mention Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and many other beliefs. So I asked her, “I have read up on many flavours of Christianity and know something of Budhism, Islam and Hinduism. Which is the true faith?”

She put her hand on my chest, over my heart and said, “you are.”

I told her: “I have not been on this Earth – well, my Earth – for half a century. Jesus died 2000 years ago, Moses and Buddha led their respective followers long before that. Surely, one of the many faiths is closest to your truth, God,”

“Oh,” she laughed, “They are all correct and yet terribly wrong at the same time. I spoke with each of them and others over the millennia. Each has understood me in the context of his or her time and his or her misconceptions of reality. As quantum mechanics is teaching you, numerous realities can exist simultaneously. Indeed, they do. And across those realities and yet tying them together are a near infinite range of variations of Me.”

We walked along in silence as the clouds in the hyper sky changed shape and colour with remarkable speed. On moment, we were in a dark blanket of storm clouds. The next sunlight came streaming through, drenching the beach in a yellow-orange glow.

“Siddhārtha Gautama was closest to my beliefs and told his follows to love, not to worship. But you, my children, seem to have great need to worship.” She said. “For now most Buddhists worship statues of the old boy. And those statues look nothing like he did.”

“Jesus was a fine young man and my son, although so are you and so are all my male children, just as all female children are my daughters. He believed in my words with great passion and gave his life to teach them. That was rather going to extremes. And it is sad that his variation of my words has been so distorted over time that their value is lost in rituals of wine and bread, curing miracles and other nonsense.” She said.

“How you my children believe in me is not as important as loving my other children. Is this not true of every parent? When a mother's child is lost in a big city, does the mother care whether or not a stranger believes in her? Or does she care that the stranger helps and protects her child?”

“What about atheists?” I asked her. “Surely they are not acceptable to you.”

“Nonsense,” she replied. The atheist who nurtures my children and strives to make the world a better place shall be welcomed to my kingdom with full honours. While the devout believer who kills in my name shall be stricken down into his own personal hell.”

“Personal hell?” I asked God. “Is not hell a community of damned souls.”

“No,” said God. “All of my Children are welcome into my kingdom before and after they spend their time on Earth. “But those who are evil are destined to live in their own personal Hells until they are able to achieve personal redemption.”

“How long does that usually take?” asked I, being overly analytical as usual.

“Time has no meaning in my Kingdom,” she answered. “Souls exist there for less than an instant and all of eternity simultaneously. They exist before birth and after death all at once in the primordial atom that exists when time and space do not.”

I was deep in contemplation of all God had told me while She and I walked along that mysterious beach beneath the hyperactive sky. I suspected that this beach too existed out of time or in another time when humans did not occupy the planet, for it seemed so empty and desolate in spite of its warmth. I doubted that such a magnificent shore could sit unoccupied by bathers anywhere on Earth today.

So, I was surprised when God took my hand and pulled us away from the beach, through a grassy patch of stones and to a very typical white picket fence with a gate in front of it. “I will leave you now,” said She. Go through the fence and you will return to your place and time.”

“But, I have much else to ask you,” I protested. “Could we not speak longer?” And I confess, I felt great comfort in holding her hand, I felt the comfort of a child holding its mother's warm hand in a mysterious place.

“Oh don't worry,” she laughed, more like a young supermarket cashier than a mother. “we will meet many more times in many more places, for I have much to tell you. And you have much to learn. But our time for now has come to an end.”

She paused and looked at me. “Don't look so sad, she said. All good things come to an end. That is a good thing, for it means that new good things may begin. If we always strive to keep everything as it is, we never grow. But if we allow good things to end, we can embrace and begin new good things. ”

“But not all things we start are good things,” I noted, reflecting upon the history of mistakes, disasters and disappointed ex-wives and girlfriends that littered my life.

“No, but bad things also come to an end. And very seldom are they entirely bad. Indeed, bad experiences, particularly if they result from our own actions, teach us much. As you say in English, we learn from our mistakes. That is true. We learn much more than when we do things right.

“Oh, and don't worry about those women. They also made mistakes and they have all been touched by you in special ways, just as you have been touched by them. They are happy in their lives. It is you, Jeffrey, who sometimes lacks happiness. You perhaps expect too much.”

“That's true,” I noted. And, I realised, I had to make dinner for my own children who would be home from school shortly. “When will I see you again?”

“Soon,” she replied. Then she kissed me on the cheek, smiled like a child and pushed gently me through the gate.

I found myself back in the supermarket checkout queue with a very different and less friendly woman running my last package of pasta across the scanner.

“39.50 Euro, Alstublieft” she said (for the supermarket was, and still is, in Flanders).

“And damned good value for that!” I exclaimed in English, thinking about all had learned speaking with God.

“Wablieft?” the cashier asked.

“Niets,” I answered while paying for my groceries.

As I walked to my bicycle, I wondered if I really would visit God again and when. Fortunately, I did not have to wait long.


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