The Source of All Theological Confusion
There’s one other runner on the track. He’s walking the track, earphones, black socks. I pass him. It’s tall John.
“Remember me?” I say to him. “Sure I remember you,” tall John says. “How are you?”
“I’m fine,” I say.
“Some dream you had last night,” he says.
“Yeah,” I say, feeling invaded.
“You know,” he says, “it’s all about forgiveness. Forgiveness is at the center.”
“Yeah,” I say, “but who’s forgiving whom, who’s being forgiven? Am I forgiving? Am I forgiven? Do I forgive myself?” Tell me, tall John, you’re the one who brought it to me, I am thinking, more annoyed than awe-struck.
“I wish I could tell you,” tall John says. “But I’ve been sworn to secrecy.”
“By the secret society of poets. They sent me. It’s not a G*d thing, it’s a poetry thing. People often call the poetry thing a G*d thing, people confuse us with angels, that delights us poets to no end but the society of poets is a secret society. If I were an angel instead of a poet, I would tell you what to do. Poets will never tell you. It takes a lot of discipline to remain secret,” he says.
“Discipline,” he says. “There’s so many temptations to go public. Our meeting, for example, is as public as we get.”
I’m trying to sort all the things I thought were G*d things that were actually poetry things, all the poetry things that were actually G*d things, understanding now the source of most theological confusion.
“Find someone you want to ask forgiveness from, something unfinished, something unsaid, some hurt something intentional or unintentional,” tall John says. “Ask them for forgiveness,” tall John says. “Say — ‘I am sorry please forgive me for anything I have done to hurt you’ ” tall John says. “We are not reconciled, with ourselves or with G*d, until we have made peace with one another.”
“When you have done that,” said tall John, smiling, “then you speak to G*d, to the G*d of your understanding. Say it out loud ‘I screwed up — forgive me.’ Just say it, with your moon roof open driving down Ladue Road at night, in the shower with the hot water splashing on your face, say it. Out loud. ‘I messed up, forgive me.’ And you are forgiven, when you have spoken. Isn’t it wonderful?”