What He Heard

C.M. Schott

Dear God,

Bryan says he doesn’t believe in you anymore. I think he’s just trying to be tough. Please don’t be angry with him. I still believe in you. Amen.

~

Dear God,

This is Leanne. Well, I guess you knew that. Uh, I haven’t talked to you in awhile. I guess you knew that. Look, this is how it is: I really, really need this job. If you help me get it, I’ll do anything. I’ll even go to church again. I’ll quit smoking. I’ll quit drink—Well, you get the idea. Look, I just need this job. Please, God. Uh, thanks. Amen.

~

Dear God,

Mom says I should thank you for my new baby sister, even though I wanted a brother. Do you think it’ll be all right if I teach her to play football anyway? Amen.

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By God, Richard, I’ll get you back for that if it’s the last thing I do!

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Heavenly Father,

I’m tired. It’s been 86 years. I miss my folks, and I miss my Daisy. You’ve been very patient all this time, and, well, I’m ready to come home now.

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Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts. . . . Wow, that smells good. Is that cinnamon? Which we are about to receive. . . . I asked for no ice. And the waiter’s gone now, too. Through Christ, Our Lord. Am— Oo, pretty girl.

~

Dear God,

Thank you for the pony! Love, Amy.

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Dear Lord,

I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

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Dear God,

This is Leanne again. Right. I guess I just wanted to say thank you. I guess. I got the job. But you already knew that. Anyway, all that stuff I said about church and the smokes. . . . you’re not going to hold me to that, are you?

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Oh, God, I left the oven on!

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Dear God,

How much more? How much more can I give you? When is it going to be enough? Are you keeping track? Let me give you a list of what I’ve done for you, in case you’ve forgotten. For seven whole years I’ve fasted every Friday. I’ve tithed—the full ten percent, and more, and that’s not easy. I’ve worked at the soup kitchen three days a week. I’ve said all four sets of mysteries of the Rosary every day. I’ve gone on pilgrimage, I’ve given away half of what I own. I’ve given up every form of decadence I can think of; my life is stripped as bare as a skinned rabbit. My friends call me an ascetic and think I wear hair shirts under my clothes. All for that one offense. It wasn’t even that bad. Surely I’ve made up for it by now. Seven years of living like some medieval desert hermit, fasting and praying the way most people work and sleep! Seven years! And now you ask me to— I can’t do it, God, I just can’t do it. Everything else you’ve put in my path, I’ve done willingly. Every time I saw something more I could do, I did it. You know I have. I don’t mean to complain. But haven’t I punished myself enough? Haven’t I bought back your good graces? And now you throw this at me? I’ll do anything else to make up for what I did. But I can’t do this. I won’t.

~

Dear God,

What a lovely sunset we had today. Thank you. Amen.

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Dear God let me pass this test, dear God let me pass this test. I should have studied more, I ran out of time. Dear God let me pass this test.

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Dear Lord,

I think my boy needs some prayer. He hasn’t been himself the last few weeks, ever since the breakup. He’s a good man, God. He just doesn’t know that anymore. Stretch out your healing hand to him, Lord, and help him to love again. Amen.

~

Dear God,

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Abba Father,

I’m sorry. I can’t let go of it. You know I’ve tried. Every day I try to let go. Of all people, I should be the first to forgive. I just can’t. It hurts too much. Lord, forgive me for preaching a virtue to your flock that I can’t exercise myself. May your word bear fruit in your children, even if it can’t in me. Oh, God. I’m like a man bleeding to death who hasn’t got the strength to reach up and close his own wound. Close it for me, Father. I don’t want this anger anymore. Seven years, Lord. Seven years it’s festered. Take it away! Make me whole! I can’t stop the bleeding.

~

Dear God,

Why do we have belly buttons? And what are swaddling clothes? And what makes the sun go up and down? Do giraffes make you laugh too? Please take care of Mommy and Daddy and Jessica and Noah and please tell Bruno to stop digging holes in the backyard. I’ve tried to tell him, but I don’t think he speaks human. Maybe he’ll listen to you. Thank you. Amen.

~

Great God Almighty! If you hadn’ta grabbed me I’da gone right over the edge! God Almighty. Thanks doesn’t really say it, but thanks, kid.

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Dear Lord,

I feel kind of silly here on my knees. I hope Lotte doesn’t come in and catch me. I haven’t done this in—it must be some forty years by now. Kind of lost the taste for it. But I guess I just wanted to say thanks. Don’t know why. It just popped into my head. Thanks. For everything. How do you sign off these days? Oh, confound it, I don’t care if they did change everything to English. In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

~

Dear God,

I’m not going to do it. Seven years is enough. If I haven’t appeased you yet, I never will. I’m giving up. Do you hear me, God? I’m giving up! You’ve pushed me too far, asked me for one too many sacrifices. There are limits to what a person can do. You’re entirely unreasonable. What kind of person could possibly make up for anything, if I can’t settle one little score with you, after everything I’ve done? I thought surely the pilgrimage would pay for it. But no. I quit. Are you happy? Send me to hell. And I am not crying. All those other pilgrims, and their wonderful stories. . . . All I ever wanted was to stop that ache. For seven years! Will I never be forgiven? I am not weeping. I will not!

~

Dear God,

What a strange confession. I don’t know where to begin. I’ve heard penitents who weren’t penitent, I’ve heard penitents who have nothing to be penitent for, I’ve heard people who believe in forgiveness and people who don’t. I’ve even heard the confessions of people who don’t believe in God. Something about the confessional calls to lost souls. But never have I heard a penitent like this one. Such effort in every word, like each syllable was being wrenched out with ragged pliers. And the tears! Not sobs—not a sniffle even. But I could hear them falling on the kneeler even from the other side of the screen. Falling thick as rain. And, merciful Father! If I had known what I would hear in the midst of those tears—words I had never thought to hear, and never thought they’d make a difference if I did. But then I realized the tears that were falling were mine as well. Seven years. Seven years of bitterness, of plotting every venomous word I would say if I ever had the chance—and instead I was saying, “Go in peace.” I had to. It was my duty. But I meant it. God, I meant it! Look at me, I’ve started up all over again and my collar was only just getting dry. Go in peace. Seven years, and I think the bleeding is finally stopped. Go in peace. Amen.

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Comments

  1. ofwhichtochoose says

    Dear God,
    It has been 8 years. I’ve tried my best. You know I have. Many a time I’ve tried to run away from it but it invariably ends up on my lap. It has been the happiest month of my life and yet it is the worst because he has gone away to work for two years. Dear God, the family ties and the secret I’ve struggled to keep are weighing heavily on my shoulders. I have avoided church this month to avoid seeing his family. There is only one thing that I’ve longed for in my whole life since we were teens. All my life, I’ve tried to do the Right Thing, am fastidious about standing up for what’s Right in Your sught and have helped others to the best of my ability. Dear God, this is the one thing that has bogged me for the last 8 years. It has changed me from a cheerful girl to one who curls up under the covers and stays indoors to weep. God, money is not important to me but happiness is. In faith, through all the circumstances, I pray that somehow, I can be with him legitimately. God, will You pity me and take away my suffering? Take these fragments and make me whole again. Amen.

    • Miguel says

      You will be in my prayers. In the meantime, remember that you are not alone in your suffering, whatever is its cause, because Christ himself is there with you. Unite your sufferings to His and that will imbue them with meaning and worth. And remember that, when all is said and done, the only true sadness is not to have been a saint, and the only true happiness to be one. God be with you.