The Big O

Oblivion is a place. No one knows where it is, which is strange because so many people go there. They go there not knowing where it is. But there’s no element of surprise when they get there because they don’t know they’re there. Or more accurately, they never arrive. They disappear along the way, or rather, they disappear the very moment they depart. It’s a huge mystery. Even for the likes of Agatha Christie or Raymond Chandler. They would be stumped.

I have a certain semi-proprietorship over that nowhere of non-existence. Most people do, survivors who have said goodbye to family members and friends as they departed for a destination at which they may never arrive. We are all shareholders in the Great Holding Company of Nowhere.

Now, I said that many people go there. Many but not all, because I have it on unproven but historically consistent authority that a good deal many others go somewhere. The actual where is open to debate, as it has been for thousands of years and as it will be for the remainder of human existence.


There is one pre-requisite for the people who end up going somewhere — going, not arriving — and that is faith. If you have faith that you are going somewhere, if you really believe you are going somewhere, chances are that you do go there, or to be precise, you set out on that road. Whether you actually arrive is another matter. And once again, neither an Agatha Christie nor a Raymond Chandler know the ending.

But — and I think this is the point, or at least the point of no return — arriving is not the issue. What’s important, what really matters is that travelers who board the Death Express, carrying a good sturdy suitcase of faith, set out on the journey with courage and peace of mind and actually look forward to the trip.

What, if anything happens along the way does not concern them. They are confident and brave travelers. I really don’t think it crosses their minds that the Death Express may be hijacked and forced to go to Oblivion.

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A layman’s guide to God

This guy I know said to me that if he could find God he thinks he would find his wife.

He wasn’t referring to the God of Sunday School and the God of organized and disorganized religion — a divine being surrounded by bright light who lives in a magical place called Heaven.

By God he meant the mystery behind the universe.

The word God is a paltry three-letter inadequacy for the universe. The mathematical precision alone that keeps it all together, spinning and constantly moving at unbelievable speeds is miraculous. One centimeter off and KARRROOM!

This led me to thinking that God needs a more spectacular name. Take the word supernatural. That’s an impressive word. But God and the supernatural are not synonymous, because God also includes the natural world — the earth and the oceans and mountains and cities and houses and people and animals, everything we see around us with our available senses, the senses that currently are the only ones available to us.

But in the supernatural word, other senses must come into play, senses we aren’t yet aware of. There may be living people who have some supernatural sense, or think they do. But I think only in death does the supernatural world, that otherworldly dimension possibly become available to us and we become part of it, part of the universe, part of the miracle.

Unbelievers will say this sounds like the same pie-in-the-sky nonsense as the God in Heaven surrounded by divine light. Certainly, it requires the same faith or suspension of disbelief.

Faith carries a heavy burden for a five-letter word. The word for God should at least have five letters. Miracle has seven.

Seven. Now we’re getting somewhere. In Biblical studies, seven is the number of “completeness and perfection.”

The Bible itself was originally divided into seven parts: the law, the prophets, the writings or psalms, the gospels and acts, the general epistles, the epistles of Paul, and the book of Revelation. The total number of originally inspired books was forty-nine — seven times seven.

That works for me. God is the Miracle. The Miracle of the universe. If we become part of that when we die, we find the undead.

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A miracle happened last night

Snowed-in miracle

An epiphany in the making

I had been snowed in for two days.

When the Nor’easter began to ease up Thursday afternoon I went outside and waded through a foot-and-a-half of snow to the snow-covered car in the driveway. I cleared about half the snow from the doors and windshield, got in and tried to rev my way out of the driveway. Not a chance.

I don’t have a snow shovel and at my advanced age I’m too old to shovel anyway. I got chest pains from just clearing half the snow off the car.

There was enough food and booze in the house for another day so I went back inside. Thursday night was another of my insomniac nights, but this time with chest pains. I got through the night but Friday was no letup of an irregular heartbeat and dizziness.

I refrained from calling the doctor because I didn’t want to take the chance of this being serious and him having me admitted to hospital. Hospital at my age during the covid surge is not a good idea for me or the front line workers.

I made no further attempt to get the car out of the driveway. I didn’t call anybody for help, I’m not sure why. I just said to hell with it and stayed inside the rest of the day, struggling with rapid heartbeat and more dizziness, which at this point I figured was more likely an anxiety attack than a serious heart problem.

Normally at this stage of the game I’d take a Xanax and that would calm me right down, but I was all out of Xanax. I drank booze instead — not so beneficial.

The night was a lonely and anxious one. I started reading a new book I had had delivered called ‘Miracles,’ an examination of the supernatural by the Christian writer C.S. Lewis. 

Snowed-in miracle
C.S. Lewis

I am not a religious person. I started reading C.S. Lewis after the death of my wife two years ago. His book ‘A Grief Observed,’ about the death of his own wife and his anger and disillusionment with God, helped me cope with my own loss more than anything or anybody else could have. It may have stopped me from killing myself.

So there I was late last night beginning to read his ‘Miracles,’ all the while trying to ignore my chest pains.

Not being a ‘believer’ but also not being an agnostic, I put the book down and actually sort of prayed, in my own way. I addressed the prayer to my wife.

“I don’t know where you are, honey, I suspect you’re in oblivion, in other words, you’re nowhere, but in the spirit of this book about miracles and on the miraculous chance that you can hear me, I need a miracle right now to get rid of my chest pains and dizziness and anxiety because at this rate I’m never going to get out of this snowbound house.” Words to that effect.

I went back to reading the book. About fifteen minutes later, at 11 p.m., I heard the revving and scraping of a snowplow in the driveway. I looked out the window and — by god! — some guy was clearing the snow, making a path for my car to get out. It didn’t take him long. And then he drove off into the night.

Just knowing I was no longer trapped by snow and will be able to drive back out to civilization in the morning made me feel immediately better.

There I was, laughing with joy and telling the cat, “By, God, Bella! Susan, God, whoever, just sent us a miracle!”

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