Why me, God?

That’s what she’s asking as she sits in her recliner the morning after her cataract surgery. Her teeth are chattering; her hands and feet are ice cold. Her whole body hurts, she says.
Why me, she mutters. What did I do to deserve this? Am I such a bad person? Give me something to make me die.
I figure it’s a reaction to whatever anesthesia they had to give her to keep her calm for the eye surgery. We have to be at the eye doctor’s in two hours to get her bandage off and have her eye checked.
But she wants to die. She doesn’t want to get up and dressed.
I put a heating pad between her back and the chair. I cover her with a fleece throw. Make her hot coffee.
Why me, God? Was I such a bad person? She keeps asking.
And so I say, it doesn’t work like that, mom. Were the women and children that Americans killed in Iraq bad people? God has nothing to do with making bad things happen.
This all happened yesterday. We did make it to the doctor’s.
Last night I got onto Tamarika’s blog and found this richly long and wonerfully linked post on “The Atheist.”
One of the links was to a NY Times piece by Natalie Angiers, whom I researched and wrote an introduction to when I did some free-lance writing for a conference on Women and Science that was held at the Emma Willard School some fifteen years ago or so. (I also wrote a speech for Jane Fonda for that event — which, I have to say — she ignored in favor of touting her latest exercise video.)
Back to Natalie Angiers, who says in her essay:
So, I’ll out myself. I’m an Atheist. I don’t believe in God, Gods, Godlets or any sort of higher power beyond the universe itself, which seems quite high and powerful enough to me. I don’t believe in life after death, channeled chat rooms with the dead, reincarnation, telekinesis or any miracles but the miracle of life and consciousness, which again strike me as miracles in nearly obscene abundance. I believe that the universe abides by the laws of physics, some of which are known, others of which will surely be discovered, but even if they aren’t, that will simply be a result, as my colleague George Johnson put it, of our brains having evolved for life on this one little planet and thus being inevitably limited. I’m convinced that the world as we see it was shaped by the again genuinely miraculous, let’s even say transcendent, hand of evolution through natural selection.
And later in the piece —
From my godless perspective, the devout remind me that it is human nature to thirst after meaning and to desire an expansion of purpose beyond the cramped Manhattan studio of self and its immediate relations. In her brief and beautiful book, “The Sacred Depths of Nature,” Ursula Goodenough, a cell biologist, articulates a sensibility that she calls “religious naturalism,” a profound appreciation of the genuine workings of nature, conjoined with a commitment to preserving that natural world in all its staggering, interdependent splendor. Or call it transcendent atheism: I may not believe in life after death, but what a gift it is to be alive now.
I wish my mom could read those books, but she isn’t a reader. Never has been. As a result, she’s not much of a thinker either.
But she does think a lot about God. She needs someone to take responsibility for what happens to her. It’s never anything she does. She also worries that I’m damned. Begs me to pray.
As I’ve often said, if there is a “god” who actually allows all this awful stuff to happen to people, then I wouldn’t want to go to his heaven anyway.
I’d rather hang out with people like Natalie Angiers and Tamarika.
OK. So, how do my atheistic tendences jibe with doing ritual house cleansings and other such pagan-based ceremonies. Well, they’re psychologically empowering; they’re performances.
And we have not yet discovered all the laws of physics. Perhaps generating energy through communal ritual does somehow affect the cosmic flow and science hasn’t yet figured out how it happens.
If nothing else, I get a kick out of playing the conjuring Crone.
Headology and all that.

5 thoughts on “Why me, God?

  1. Thanks for the link. I actually thought of you quite a bit as I was writing my post and answering comments. I was wondering what you thought. So I find what you say here interesting indeed. I agree that the “energy” stuff is still a bit of a mystery.
    I used to be told that I have a black star over my head so I was sad to hear about your being told you are damned. Cruel things that people say and all because they care (?) about us!

  2. Ah, a fellow non-believer. I knew you’d be good for something. Heh.
    I wrote a piece about my wife awhile back. She is ill with a form of Parkinson’s. She has never once said “Why me?” Because she knows better.

  3. A very dear, close friend of mine died of cancer in 2001. Before he died and while he was quite ill, his daughter asked him if he ever felt angry or had thoughts like “why me?” He shook his head from side to side and said, “Why not me? This stuff happens to people all the time. Why not me?”

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