Sometimes we go up to religious mountain retreats. It's what we do. Or, at least, in my case, it's what we used to do. In fact, I'm not sure if I should still be included when I say "we." I haven't been religious for years now.
Anyway, we decided to go again to the mountains, for old times sake. We needed drivers to shepherd groups of people up there, and so I volunteered.
On the way up, I noticed that the roads had become much more precarious than in previous years, but I was fully confident in my own driving abilities, and so I proceeded with accelerated aplomb.
Aplomb, it turned out, was not enough. At one particularly sharp turn around a precipice, my car tore right over the edge of the road and plummeted into the chasm below. Amidst the shrieking of my passengers, however, I kept my cool. I depressed the "reset" button on my dashboard, and instantly
I noticed that the roads had become much more precarious than in previous years, so although I was fully confident in my own driving abilities, I applied the brake gingerly and took the next corner with caution. Amidst the complaints of slowness coming from my passengers in the backseat, I kept my cool. I informed them with authority that I was travelling as quickly as could be considered prudent. After all, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.
Later, upon arriving at the campsite, I observed that we were evidently to be staying in a new building. The only problem, then, was that the building had yet to be constructed. In fact, the previous building was still undergoing demolition. Irked, I volunteered to help move things along and immediately began tearing planks of wood from the old framework with my bare hands.
Once the new building was ready to be constructed, I made that process move much more quickly with another trick: I showed the other workers how to file the materials down to the correct size using only one's own hair. Impressed with my knowledge and the time saved by my wisdom, they gave me the rest of the afternoon off.
My wife and I made for the music superstore that had recently opened nearby. We'd heard that they had absolutely everything. It was only a short drive from the campsite, and so we decided it would be a fair use of our newfound free time to take a look.
The place was a disappointment. Not the music, no. They really did have literally everything. The problem was that they didn't offer us any place to sit down. No chairs!
In retrospect, upon arriving once again at the campsite, I realized that there had been chairs all over the store at little listening stations where one could sit and listen to music before purchasing it. But I had continued to wander the store in search of a place to sit as though I couldn't find one. How puzzling.
Others had arrived at the campsite when we got back. In particular, the guest speaker had arrived and was intent on speaking to me. It seems that someone had tattled about my... ahem... recently acquired heathendom.
No worries. I am quite willing to speak about my present state of religious limbo, and so I welcomed the chance to get another's perspective. After all, the guy looked kind of like Richard Jenkins and sounded exactly like Harry Dean Stanton. So naturally I thought maybe he might have some ideas that were worth something.
So we walked together--really, I slid down the stairs on my socks--he and I and the other religious group leader who was, as always, present. I told him about my past, how I feel, where I am. How I neither believe nor disbelieve any particular idea about the nature of God's existence. How I do not believe that I have a personal relationship with God. How I do not believe that I know anything at all about God. How I wish that I did know something about him. How I wish that I did have a personal relationship with him. How I wish I could believe some idea about God's existence.
He told me that often prayer reduces to asking for things, and this can be a little petty.
I told him that my prayers usually only have to do with knowing God.
He said, "If he told us we know, then we'd know." The other leader seemed unimpressed by this, but I assumed that the guy was just trying to be cryptic. So I started trying to reason what exactly he meant.
He continued, saying, "Your computer programs are your messages to God."
I'd never thought of anything of the sort. What could he have meant?