Mark you just need to keep on listening. Listening and then listening even more. In your life you could do with more listening. You know that don’t you?
You mean listening to you?
What do you mean by more listening God?
More listening would make it easier to achieve the things you want to in life.
Really God? I’m the guy who’s always listening. That’s what people say anyway, and it’s not always a compliment either. They think I’m a little strange to listen to you as much as I do. A bit too spiritual.
Well Mark you could listen more if you wanted. I’m just saying.
Is this a rebuke God?
Mark no, not at all. You’ve asked and asked and asked me to talk to you. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m just talking. Why does it always have to be a rebuke? Why can’t it be a comment, an observation, a thought?
Ok. True God, sorry.
Don’t be sorry Mark. I’m your father. I’m your dad sort of father - not your angry stern sort of father.
Well Mark which sort of father do you want me to be?
The dad sort I guess God.
Good then relax. Sit with me. Let me talk. Let me muse. Let me ask you questions and make observations. Let me be your dad - like a dad sitting around a camp fire with you. That sort of dad.
Well? Would you like me to be that sort of dad Mark? The two of us sitting around a camp fire talking. Lying on our bed rolls just talking. Father and son. Tossing around the thoughts that have been on our minds, airing them for the other to see. Asking questions, making comments.
Ok God - this is really really really REALLY REALLY REALLY you right? Like I’m not making this up or hearing the other fella?
It’s really me Mark.
Well if it’s really you then it sure sounds good. Better than good really. I’d love to know you like that God. Actually it sounds totally and completely awesome as my kids might say. It really does.
Tell me what you’re thinking Mark?
Well I’m thinking that when you tell me you love me, when you use words like I love you, I don’t like it, don’t believe it…
You know why that is right?
Yes. Well I think I do. I think it’s because of my own baggage – my hang ups and insecurities blah blah blah, I think that’s why I can’t quite relate to you saying you love me. It’s uncomfortable, sort of too religious I guess - I have issues accepting you love me.
And well I’m a bit of a cynic God. I’m cynical about the word ‘love’ when used in connection with you. I’ve heard too many religious people saying they love each other when they clearly don’t. I’ve done the same. I’ve heard them say they love you when they’ve never even had a conversation with you. I’ve done the same too. And then I’ve heard them tell others that God loves them. I’ve done all that myself God and I haven’t meant or understood it any more than they have. It’s all been so empty so often.
And so when you turn up and say it’s really you talking - and then you go and say you love me it just sounds so darned religious somehow God. Like the words might have meant something once but not anymore. Now it seems the words have been trotted out so often that they’re a bit meaningless. To me anyway. Sorry God but if I’m honest that’s just the way I feel.
Don’t be sorry, I want to hear the rest of the story Mark – I’m enjoying this.
Ok well so I don’t like it when you tell me you love me, but you keep on insisting on doing so. And I guess I’m getting used to it. A little bit anyway. I’m slowly starting to believe it but I have to tell you God I’m still not comfortable with it.
No you’re not, but a switch went on in your mind earlier in this conversation didn’t it?
Yes it did. But before I get to that God, can I just say something really crazy?
Ok, well since you talked about it just before, the campfire image has become so stuck in my mind that it’s become a reality. In my mind that’s become exactly what’s happening right now. It really is me and you lying around the campfire talking. That picture has become so real that I’d forgotten that it was just an image you suggested. How weird is that God?!?
I don’t find it weird at all Mark. That’s what it’s like when I say something – it becomes real. And that’s what I’ve always wanted with you. There’s a lot more for us to do together than just sit around a campfire talking, but that’s one of the most important things right now. Just to be able to relax in the wild with you, in the cool of a February evening, swatting bugs, enjoying the fire, feeling a cooling breeze and just talking Mark. Just talking. But tell me, I want to hear you explain the switch that flicked on in your mind at the start of this conversation.
Ok well the switch flicking on was the reason I said all that stuff about how I get uncomfortable when you say you love me.
Yes exactly, so explain the switch Mark.
Ok well when you talked about you and me lying around the camp fire, just talking and chewing the fat about all kinds of stuff like I did a few times with my own dad… that’s when the switch flicked on in my mind God. When I heard you say that, SUDDENLY I actually believed that you loved me. I understood it somehow. A bit anyway. When you explained it like the campfire scene I realised I could be comfortable with you loving me if that’s what it meant.
Yes you did.
So why has it taken so long to tell me the story like that God? Why didn’t you explain it to me like that before now?
You wouldn’t have understood it Mark. Not until now. You wouldn’t have known what I meant.
Are you sure God?
Trust me Mark I’m sure. You wouldn’t have understood. You needed to learn all the things that you have about what I’m really like first. If you hadn’t then the stern image of me that Religion has taught you wouldn’t have allowed you to understand the campfire story. By having a conversation with me, back and forward, for all these six years, you’ve learned things about me that you could never learn listening to sermons or reading. You have to get it direct from me and lots of it to understand me Mark.
Ok God keep talking please.
Mark that’s enough for one night. Just lie there in the long grass of your mind, prop your head up on your hand, watch the fire, look across at me as I talk, swat some bugs, feel the sleep coming on and savour this moment. Just me and you – you and your dad out here in the wild talking and enjoying each other’s company.
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