Down Cast

Those who have dwelt in heaven, as have we all, know that a time comes in the life of each angelic soul, when God calls you aside, sits you down in a little office, and says, “We need to talk.”

You say to yourself, “I knew this was too good to last.”

“How is everything?” God asks.

“Well, fine,” you answer. “just like always.”

“I’m referring to this business of perfection. How’s it working out for you?”

“Is there something wrong?” you ask.

“Of course not,” God laughs. “How could there be anything wrong with perfection? I was just wondering if you might need a change.”

You gulp. You knew this was coming.

“I was just thinking,” God continues, “it might be time for…”

You feel a furrowing in your brow. “Are you talking about… that place?”

“I think you know what I’m talking about,” God says gently. “You’re ready.”

“Please, no. Not ready yet, no.”

“Admit it,” God says. “You’ve been getting a little bored here.”

“Well, maybe a little. Because, you know, everything is perfect. But I haven’t complained, have I? I’ve learned to put up with it.”

“But maybe its getting a little old?” God suggests.

“My work has gotten an A-rating, just like everyone else’s. Have I ever veered from your will for an instant?”

“All that is quite irrelevant,” God replies.

“But how could I survive in that place?”

“You couldn’t.”

Desperate now, your voice quivers. Something new and salty drips from your eyes. “I wouldn’t last a moment there: 70, 80 years at most!”

“About right,” God says.

“And I’d have to endure… birthmarks, crow's feet, impure thoughts!”

God gravely nods. “Every imperfection in the universe, all bundled into one planet, one lifetime, one body.”

You cease to struggle. Your shoulders droop as with heavy, wet, desultory wings. “Why would you ask this of me?”

“Because you’re ready.”

“Ready for what, Lord?”

“If I could tell you the answer, you wouldn’t need the experience.”

Your white light dims. Soon, you are so dark you begin to take on shades of color.

“I’m not that strong. I think I might fail.”

“You will.” God replies.

Gazing at God in surrender, you see a softness in those eyes you never noticed before. God whispers, ”It’s already begun, hasn’t it?”

“Yes. I feel afraid but... so alive inside. What’s happening?”

“Humanity is kicking in.”

“Will I return, or will I die?”

“Yes,” God says.

Though you try to speak, no sound comes from your agonized lips, but a murmurous ichor, as from the drowned. Radiance fades from your countenance. God's graceful fingers close the lids of your eyes. Lifting you up in arms that offer no more solace, God hurls you through an open window, a portal that widens into the vast and terrible glare of birth.

Illustration by Gustav Doré, from 'Paradise Lost'

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