Shelter-in-place orders haven’t changed my life much. I live like that anyway, sometimes staying home in my desert shack all week until the Saturday trip to the Family Dollar Store. Now when I go there, the clerk is wearing a face mask and the customers stay the same 15-20 feet away from each other that they ever did.
I do find my mind wandering during this period, probably for the same reason everyone’s mind is wandering: No one knows where this transformation of society is heading, other than that it’s got a distinct dystopian sheen.
Anyway, I was thinking about my two divine acquaintances, Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess and Jesus, and how easily I’m able to slide into conversation with them, as though they were kindly kindergarten teachers and I was a puzzled five year old.
And it occurred to me, maybe because of my recent conversation with Gregory (leader of the "Army of the Young") that I’ve never tried to take this to the next level, you know, by attempting to talk to Gxd. The weird spelling derives from irrational fears held by many Jews that Gxd is a sort of volcano deity, furious, ready to spew torrents of molten wrath should you stray one inch from Hxs will. Therefore you should not get too close to Hxm, which would happen if you used Hxs name.
I call that fear “irrational,” but it isn’t really. For one thing, the Torah, the foundational scripture of Jews (accepted by Christianity and Islam as the Old Testament), presents exactly that jealous, supreme, furious god, ready at any moment to torment and kill the disobedient.
Combine that with a universe- the one we inhabit- that a lot of the time does seem run by such a god, and you have a recipe for an irrational fear that is rational.
Nevertheless I sat on my front porch staring at non-indigenous shrubs that dot the sandy yard and wondered, “If I can talk to Betty the Coyote Goddess and Jesus, can I talk to Gxd?”
I continued to muse, “If Eastern thinkers are right, Betty and Jesus are faces of a central god, known by Hindus as Atman, 'the spiritual life principle of the universe' (Microsoft dictionary), that is in all likelihood the face or a face of our uppercase god, which means I’ve already talked to Gxd many times. In fact most people have probably talked to Gxd.”
“Still though," I continued to myself, “With Betty and Jesus I’m receiving a persona, anthropomorphized for me, or in the case of Betty mammalized, composed of particular aspects of Atman (or should I say Axxxn?). But if I commune with Gxd directly I might receive every aspect of Hxm at once. Would I short-circuit?”
Such cautionary thoughts did not dissuade me because, as research has shown, males are drawn to risk more than females, and older men with nothing to do but write their experiences are the most drawn, because they need things to write about.
I resolved then to go in search of Gxd. And since there is no better guide for finding a god than another god, I sought Betty.
It wasn't hard to find her. I just walked across the desert for a while and there she was, sitting beside a creosote bush. As usual she was way ahead of me.
"Hi Harry, " she murmured seductively, "Looking for Mr. Big?"
"Hi Harry, " she murmured seductively, "Looking for Mr. Big?"
"If that's sarcasm, Betty, I may or may not understand it. I'm guessing you don't appreciate being a lesser god to humankind's one and only."
"It's not like that, Harry," Betty thought to me (since her physical self can't say consonants, our communication is telepathic), "We are all aspects of X, including you. Harry, do you like my new spelling?"
"Sure," I chuckled (adding a telepathic chuckle emoji), "you know, in human math, 'x' means 'unknown'."
"Sorry. Should I drop the idea?"
"I don't know."
"What? Did you say, 'I don't know'? Betty, you are a deity, maybe an aspect of X. How are you not going to know?"
"I don't know," she replied with a grin (FYI, coyotes can grin).
"If that don't beat all...." I offered.
"Go figure," Betty said, and continued, "Harry, close your eyes."
I did as instructed, though I recalled that Coyote, often in male form, was believed by many Native Americans to be a destructive trickster, sometimes even the source of evil. Betty noted my inner musings and replied:
"Harry, don't forget that many tribes depicted me as the creator of humanity, personally designing its mentality, bringing it the gift of fire and much more."
"Betty, did you do those things?"
"Honestly, I don't remember...." Betty seemed to drift off.
"Harry, sorry, I'm trying to concentrate here. Can we change the subject and set a course for your conscious soul?"
"My 'conscious soul'?"
"Yes. Your soul has several parts. One part we call 'conscious,' which is, for want of a better term, 'you'."
"What are the other parts? Do I want to know?"
"Apparently you do, Harry. I'm going to tell you a myth from the Mohave tribe, who lived around here. They believed that when you dream you travel back to the time of creation and directly witness the events of your mythology."
"Betty, I'm getting sleepy. Wait, revise that...I'm asleep! Wow, and this is a dream!"
"Calm down, Harry. Breathe deliberately and slowly, or dream that you are."
I tried to control my breathing and began to relax, my closed eyes settling on an evolving void of utter darkness and nothingness. It began to fold in on itself. A soft purplish glow appeared, which somehow I knew was self-awareness. I drifted closer to the glow and saw that it was as innocent as an infant's new mind.
Betty returned to my thoughts, "Yes Harry, we renew as helpless, unknowing infants. The lessons from our past lives, at least the ones that survive, come raining down on us."
I saw this "rain" in many colors, filling the purple haze with language, history, perspective, personality. Then dozens of eyes appeared across the newly formed "body," looking all around, even, terrifyingly, at me. Betty stepped in again.
"It's alright, Harry, just a process. Newly established inborn knowledge is being infused with perception of current time. The mind of X is forming."
"How often does this process take place."
I let that stand, distracted as I was by the developing entity. Anxiety, fed no doubt by a dump truck of guilt, was growing within me.
"Betty," I had to restrain myself from shouting, "I don't know why, but I'm getting really scared. Can you get me out of here?"
"No, only you can get yourself out of here."
I knew that was true. The form before me spread out to fill the entire visual field, which appeared like a sphere around me. I was floating in the center. My heart started to pound.
"Betty, am I in the middle of X's mind?"
"Sure, Harry. Either that or you're confined in an institution, telling your therapist your latest delusion."
"Betty, stop joking!"
Betty's soft chuckle reassured me. "Harry, X has lost innocence now and has a mature form."
"Betty, is X male, as our mythology has it?"
"Talk to X and find out."
I stared at the inner wall of the sphere that surrounded me. It was full of morphing images, impossible to make sense of. Finally I spoke.
"Hello? Please forgive me for being blasphemous, if I am. To begin with, could Yxu please tell me what 'blasphemous' means? I would like to ask Yxu if Yxu have a gender, but not if it's a blasphemous question."
And just like that I heard a crisp, sweet voice, "Hello, Harry. It seems I created you."
"Oh, I guess you did, thank you. Betty, are you still here?" Betty did not respond. I wanted her advice on how, or whether to proceed, but she left me on my own.
"I mean," I sputtered to Gxd, "I'm confused. I just watched you be created, so I'm not sure how you created me. That sounded irreverent, please forgive me...!"
"Don't worry, Harry, we're communicating now. All I ask from humans is some introspection and responses that show evidence of critical thinking skills."
"Oh thank god, I mean, oh my god....!"
"Harry, relax. Remember, you're dreaming. If it's too much, just accept it as a dream."
"Ok, but how do I know if it's a nightmare or a, what's the opposite of a nightmare, 'good dream'?"
"'Good dream' will do, Harry. Anyway, back to your question, 'What is blasphemy?' It's from the Greek, meaning 'slander.' To blaspheme is to slander X, to say something about X that is not true. Since you know nothing of X, then whatever you say about Hxm is of unknown truth and thus is slander and blasphemy."
"Oh, ok...uh...sorry, I don't know how to refer to Yxu. Should I call you Gxd?"
"Don't refer to Mx as anything. To refer to Mx is to presuppose knowledge of Mx, which, as noted, is slander, and yes, it has been known to rile Mx."
"Ok! But, I'm getting lost here. If I'm communicating with Yxu now, doesn't that require referring to Yxu, and so blaspheming?"
"Harry, you're being literal and time based. This is a dream. We are both ending and becoming in every moment. You sin and blaspheme, you lose your innocence, I become angry and lose my innocence then regain it. Does that make sense, Grasshopper?"
"No! I'm losing my ability to know how words work! Oh my X! Yxu joked and made me feel like I am like Yxu, but I am lost and without understanding, so how could I be like Yxu?"
"Good question, Harry, you are an excellent student! Go ahead and ask your question about gender."
"Oh yes, sorry. Well, do Yxu have a gender? Are Yxu male or female?"
I should have expected that.
X continued: "We're reaching the end of this dream, Harry. Let me ask you what you learned from this encounter."
"What I've learned is...uhm... Lord, I have learned...damn! Sorry! Jesus, what the hell...."
I was really losing it, tangled in so many languages and perspectives.
"Try again, Harry."
The voice was kind, loving. It was a relief to feel a benevolent side of X.
"Ok, sorry for blaspheming!"
I calmed down then, my thoughts coming together in sensible form.
"Ok. Well, I think the lesson I've learned is that humankind's understanding is limited to a shell of constructs assembled by our five senses. Those senses are not designed to see beyond the shell. Thinking about X is an attempt to do just that. The sin is not that we try to see beyond the shell. It's that we can't admit that we don't know how to, that we haven't seen squat. We don't know anything at all beyond the shell. Nothing. The sin is pretending that we are able to see. What angers Yxu is dishonesty."
"Not bad, Harry," said Gxd.
Betty came floating into the visual field and spoke cheerfully:
"Say goodbye to Gxd, Harry. This dream is almost over."
"Goodbye, Gxd, and thank you!"
"Any time, Harry," said Gxd.
Betty gestured for me to get on her back, and she galloped across the renewing desert. It was dawn when I dismounted in my front yard. I bid farewell to Betty and went to bed, entering a dreamless sleep.