Suburban New Jersey
A husky teenage boy lay silently on a bed staring up at the ceiling.
He is waiting to be picked up for a party at the house of a classmate whose parents had gone out of town
A disembodied voice begins to whisper words in the darkness.
He appears to be entirely unaware that this is happening.
Michael, it’s me.
I am confident that you cannot hear me as, if you could, these words would be quite unnecessary. There are things I need to tell you that I wish I did not have to say. But what I need to say, and what I need to do, is undoubtedly necessary.
And I know that… because I know you.
I know you so well. From the day of your creation, I reveled in the splendor of my work. These fourteen years, I have been at your side always; observing your actions; feeling your feelings; listening to the wanderings of your mind. I love you, Michael. I love you in a manner reaching far beyond the bounds of what you understand love to be.
And yet, you know me not at all. You believe in me, yes. But you do not know me. And this saddens me deeply. Yes, I possess the power to make you know me, but this would rob of you of the power to love me; and I love you too much to steal from you the opportunity to engage in the greatest love affair your human life could ever hope to experience. I have used my omnipotence to bestow upon you free will; and only in choosing freely to know me can you experience this love of which I speak.
But you do not know that you have this choice. The truth- that I brought you into this world happy, joyous and free- is obscured. A fog of restlessness, irritability and discontentment enveloped you so quickly upon your arrival in this world, that there has been no way for you to locate that happy, joyous and free is your natural state; or even that happy, joyous and free is a state of being within your grasp.
I have tried in so many ways to reach you, my boy; but the distance remains. And as each day passes, I fear that you will reach the limits of your patience and make the ultimate sacrifice. And this I cannot risk- as I have critically important work for you to do.
And so, my sweet child, I have, after much thought, decided that an immediate and aggressive course of action will be necessary to bring about the transformation needed to deliver you back into your rightful place in my loving arms.
This plan of action will involve five stages. And the first… oh Michael… the first will be excruciating. Hear me when I say that it sickens me to think of what I am about to cast upon you. If there were any another way, I would surely employ it. But son, you have been so loaded full of thoughts and ideas about yourself and the world around you, which all but guarantee our eternal separation, that I have no choice but to shock your system; and shock it hard.
Upon you, will come a deadly illness; as insidious as it is torturous. There will be an initial burst of intense pleasure, a calm before the storm, which will only worsen the pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization which awaits.
It will be awful. So awful that I may, at times, be unable to watch; for watching my children suffer has always been the most difficult part of what I do.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will give you a picture of the four stages which are to follow the first; though they will do nothing to mitigate the approaching pain as, even if you could hear me, you are not yet ready to understand them.
Stage two will bring you to the doorstep of an organization where you will finally be able to spot the hope of recovering the happy, joyous and free life that is your birthright.
Stage three and four will occur in tandem; presenting to you a program through which this new design for living may be found, along with a fellowship full of like-minded travelers to love and support you as you do the work.
Stage five… well… stage five will be the greatest gift of all. Stage five will open the door to allow you to do the very special work which I originally built you for and which prompted this very talk. Once restored to your natural state of happy, joyous and free, you will walk the rest of your days as a conduit of my message for thousands of lost souls. This work will fill you with a connectedness and a sense of purpose so deeply felt that you will, at times, find yourself almost unable to stand the glory. I promise you that any sense of discord you will feel in my direction as your illness overcomes you will be replaced tenfold by oceans of joy and mountains of gratitude for the gift of service.
That’s pretty much the whole of it, Michael. As to why I bothered showing up to share this with you, knowing full well that you’d not be able to hear it, I suppose there are two reasons. One, I suppose I just needed to know that I tried. And two, I guess I held some faint hope that your ears might all of a sudden take in my voice and open your heart, rendering the coming storm unnecessary. But I knew that this was not to be. I hate that it has to be the way. But now it must begin.
As you enter the party this evening, a boy named Marty will hand you a beer. You will drink it down and stage one will be underway. Tonight will be fun; as will many of the nights that follow. But when the fun stops, the pain will come; and it will come in droves and torrents. As it progresses on, the physical torture will be unbearable; but it will be child’s play compared to the shaming screams of condemnation inside your head.
Within all that noise, will be my voice. It may be faint, blocked up by so much detritus and falderal. But it will be there. Listen for it.
You won’t know it, but every moment of this suffering… I will be there;
I’ll be watching as you stumble;
I’ll be listening as you weep;
I’ll be holding you as you tremble.
And, I promise you my son…
I promise you that when it is over,
I will be waiting there on the other side.