This morning I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed into my room. I saw a familiar sight and spun around to leave. Too late.
“Come in my child.”
There at my computer was The Galilean, one of the favorite shapes of the Alien C.W. my more or less permanent houseguest. I dreaded our conversations like a prostitute dreads a police interview.
“Come and sit.”
What could I do? I sat. “What the hell are you up to?” I wasn’t going to go gently into this good fight.”
“Be calm,” he said. “Have you said your morning prayers, yet?”
Let me explain. The figure before me had long, greasy black hair, a stringy beard, glassy black eyes and robe that smelled of long days’ wear. And he was quizzing me on prayer.
“No,” I said. “You know I quit praying while I was still in high school.”
His dark eyes bore into me and I shivered. “Tell me, exactly what did you pray for then?”
I knew he wouldn’t stop, so I might as well go along. “I prayed to be tall enough and big enough to be a football player.”
“And what exactly happened?”
“Nothing. I walked through graduation at five-foot-ten and 130 pounds.”
“And for that you quit praying?”
“Yes. Wouldn’t you have?”
He ignored me. “How much do you know about prayer, my son?”
Oh crap. Here we would go. “Just that it didn’t work for me.”
“Is there what you call a … ,” He paused and I heard his Galactic Universal Translator hum. He studied some notes he had on my desk, “a ‘statute of limitations’ on prayer?”
“Do your entreaties and pleas evaporate over time like a thin fog on a spring morning?”
I hate it when he gets poetical. “How the hell should I know?”
“Don’t blaspheme, my child. Think of what I asked. It may be hard, but think.”
He resorted to one of his favorite tricks, a challenge tinged with an insult. “Okay, I’m thinking.”
“If faith is eternal, shouldn’t the requests of faith-based prayers be eternal?”
“Let me answer. Yes, my child. Prayers are eternal. There are no expiration dates for them.”
“If you say so.”
“I do. But we’re talking about you.” He paused, for dramatic effect as much as anything. “Not tell me how tall you are this morning and how much you weigh.”
I heard the trap door slamming shut and didn’t answer.
“I know the facts anyway,” he said. “Now aren’t you as tall and large as many successful football players?”
“But I’m …,” I began. He cut me off.
“A prayer response delayed is not a prayer request unanswered.”
My mind twirled and a bell rang in my head. “But what about the few in Germany in the 1930s who prayed to avoid war?”
He grimaced. His GUT hummed. It was his turn to stammer. “Is there any more of that coffee?” he asked.