They’ve got God, and I’ve got no-God.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying they have a thing and I don’t. I’m saying they have a thing and I have a different thing.
No-God is a thing in and of itself. No-God is endlessly practical. She wears comfortable shoes, and fanny pack stocked with all kinds of things that are real and useful.
Not everything you’ll need, surely—life doesn’t give us everything we need. “Everything you’ll need” in a world where people starve to death is a message as is tippy and false tall as four inch heels. No-god is done with that kind of push-up bra control top pantyhose-ey message.
Even if you are not starving, even if you are just standing at the kitchen sink in the harsh light of sunrise with a morning after dryness in your chest, like a forest fire has raged there all night and you are ashy and tender inside like you could blow away, no-God would not tell you that you have everything you need (even when you do—and you usually-but-not-always do). She would not make that kind of judgement call. Instead she would tell you that what you have is what you have, and even when you are ashy and tender and blowing away, the sunrise is a miracle, and you can look up and see it if you want.
No-God believes in miracles. In a world with sunrises and babies and leaves that turn colour, how could she not?
No-God doesn’t bother with make-up, of course, because it changes the way the wind off the ocean feels against her skin. Sunscreen, sure—because no-God believes in Cancer and bad things happening to good people and mortality. No-God does not believe in an afterlife, so she doesn’t have to be distracted by packing for it. Instead, she pays attention to what is in front of her because she *loves* being alive like it is an orange plucked straight from the tree.
When no-God eats the orange, she is messy as a two year old’s hug after breakfast. Sticky *everywhere*. No-God knows you can juice oranges, of course, and sip them delicately out of pretty glasses. But she will have none of that. She is not an orange-vampire, taking just the parts that slide smoothly into stemware.
She is not in the business of sorting living things into piles.
No-God throws *nothing* away. She does not believe in “away”. Only in other “here”s.
No-God is a chew-er of things, and oranges are no exception. She wants the feel of the pulp on her tongue and the fiber in her belly. She wants the mess on her cheeks—a stickiness that she can wear like laugh lines or a memoir. That announces to the world “I ate an *orange* today—how lucky am I?” She wants to peel it herself, too, so she can be there for that satisfying moment when the smooth pores yield under her nail and invite her in. So she can watch the way the tiny bits of orange mist shoot up into the air like fireworks, announcing “I get to eat an *orange* today”. She wants to feel the mist land softly on the skin of her hands, where she will carry the memory of it with her all day. Every time she raises a hand to brush hair out of her eyes, she will smell the orange mist on her fingers.
When no-God eats the orange, she saves the peels, even though she knows you can’t eat them. She will dry them and mix them with flower petals to carry the smell of summer through winter. She will save the seeds, too, because seeds are the closet thing to heaven that she knows. Infinite life in a finite world. And they fit in her fanny pack.
No-God may or may not have created that orange tree. She can’t be certain, because she can’t remember back that far and neither can you so she’s not sure what the point is of discussing it all. No-god is deeply practical. The orange trees are here now, and they are beautiful, and that is enough for her. And she loves them, and she loves you—but not in a personal, promise-making kind of way. This is not a proposal. She is not down on one knee. She does not tell you that she has a specific plan for your unfolding, sheltered in her love. She prefers to stick to the plain facts, and the plain facts facts are these:
You do not need love from God or from no-God, because love is a thing sewn into your cells like trees and fruit are sewn into the cells of the orange seed. Humans cannot help but love, and they cannot help but be loved. There is not a God to love us, and so we find one another and we offer and we receive and we unfold and we struggle and we hang on for dear life. And it’s peels and pulp flying *everywhere* and it’s beautiful, and we don’t need to worry about whether you can do it because the truth is that you can do nothing else. The scent of loving and being loved is all over your hands like orange mist, and you will smell it when you raise your hand to brush the hair out of your eyes. Which you should, because the world is worth seeing.
There is planting to be done. There are seeds, saved in a fanny pack, now being pressed into your sticky, love scented palm with the simplest and most honest of benedictions, which is “Here. I saved these for you.”
For you. To carry in your pocket like rosary beads, until the right piece of ground appears between your toes like an unresolved chord and you feel life opening for more life. The way life does. And you crouch down and whisper them into the earth, saying “Here. I saved these for you.”
And when you do, you might think about who will eat the oranges, and if they will wonder who put them there, and you might want to have a conversation with no-God about this, but that will not work. No-God is not much of a conversationalist. She is busy.
There are strawberries.
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