And Lo, for the Earth was empty of Form, and void. And Darkness was all over the Face of the Deep. And We said: "Look at that fucker Dance."
― David Foster Wallace, "Infinite Jest"
No one, no person, no magical or religious entity conceived by man or descended from Heaven, takes us aside and tells us what is coming, not definitively or specifically, David Foster Wallace wrote. A plague? Did we see that coming? Have we deserved to be so smitten these past two years? What are the gods trying to tell us? I don't know, do you, dear reader? I live in doubt. I am perplexed.
No matter how many times I listen to the repetition and analysis of the scriptures on the evangelical radio stations in the mountains of upstate New York, I cannot fathom a loving god/God/or gods and find all belief "systems" and organized religion alienating. More so now than ever as we behold atrocities all over Planet Earth. Let us have a few moments of rest as I abstain from enumerating these atrocities, yet again. And what a luxury that is, to abstain and rest. For the record, I am not reporting from a bunker.
I grew up in a household of one believer and one agnostic/atheist. When my mother was in her 90's, near the end of her life, when she was nearly blind and deaf, she asked to see a Rabbi or a Priest or Imam—it didn't matter so long as it was a man and an ordained "professional," and when the Rabbi came, all she wanted to discuss was the fate of the State of Israel and the persecution of the Palestinian People, and Obama, and she asked the Rabbi to read the headlines of the newspaper that day as I, her writer daughter, insisted on reading her poetry instead, and she found poetry boring. "If only I could pray," she had said to me often. "If only I believed. If only I enjoyed poetry."
"Let's listen to the opera," I suggested as I was usually visiting on a Saturday afternoon when the Metropolitan Opera was broadcasting on WQXR. Out came the libretto, much more engaging than the scriptures, we both agreed.
These days, my favorite radio station as I am driving is "Sounds of Life," because the preachers are articulate, dramatic and forthright, and the music has rhythm and bounce. I came upon it by accident, which I am sure is intentional; the music drew me there and I stayed. Even stranger for a non-believer, I enjoy the aesthetic grandeur of cathedrals, the peaceful silence of graveyards, and the blessings of believers when they grace me with their blessings. And I believe in angels, spirits in human form who arrive without fanfare into our lives to console, humor and befriend.
The other day, my allergist asked if I'd had a breakthrough Covid and when I said, "yes," and he asked me how I did with it and I said, "okay," he blessed me. He said that God—capital G for this one—is looking after me, absolutely and positively looking after me, and my husband, who also has had "mild" Covid. I should never doubt, he repeated several times, that God is looking after us, I should put my doubt aside. If only, I said to him, as I gathered my belongings and thanked him for his blessing. If only.