“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” - Blaise Pascal
I am not God, though some of you will stubbornly insist after reading this that I am. God is a comfortable fairytale that you dreamed up when first you could dream, in an attempt simply to understand the concept of me. Some of your philosophers have called me Nature; the wisest of them stopped at that for fear of going mad if they attempted to define me further. Look to the furthest star in your lofty night sky, and that distance is but the tiniest point compared to that described by the vast orbits of heavenly bodies revolving in the firmament. At the far edge of that point your eyes have failed you, but your imagination can be stretched just a little further. Can you imagine a planet one thousand times the size of your own? Can you imagine fifty? And amidst these, suns gone into supernova at temperatures so high that they do not burn, but evaporate. Can you imagine two galaxies tearing each other apart over billions of years without so much as a rumble in the silent vacuum of space? I can tell you now that your imagination will grow weary of conceiving things before I tire of producing them.
I am everything, lifeless and deathless, beginning and end; I know the amplitude of time,
and I inhabit the infinite spaces which you cannot fathom. Your languages do not hold the space to contain me, therefore I cannot describe myself to you with the precision you were no doubt hoping for. However, you have always had a fondness for naming things—hacking vast and complicated systems and concepts down to a single word. I have no true name, but a title will suffice for the purposes of this account—my first and no doubt my last. You may call me Infinity. It has a certain elegance.
I have said that I know the expanse of time. You probably derived a different understanding from this statement than I intended. After all, you do not know time; you are incapable of such knowledge. Time does not dispense itself in seconds and minutes and years and centuries and millennia for your convenience. Time is an independent force that permeates every speck of existence. However, existence is only in the present. The events of the second before this one no longer exist, and the ones in the second to come are not yet determined. I have been since time began, so I have perfect recollection of every moment from then till now, but I cannot peer past the edges of time. I know all of what is, but what will be is unknowable until it comes to pass.
It is because of the nature of time that I am still capable of being surprised. It does not happen often—there are very few things that are entirely new in the history of existence. In the beginning, yes, I basked in an almost constant state of wonder at the things I could create, and the effects which these had on what I had made before them, sometimes resulting in the creation of something entirely new. But my role as creator has long been unnecessary. Now, I observe, I occasionally manage, but I do not create. It was another’s creation, therefore, that caught my interest one day (to use another of your arbitrary temporal distinctions). Something new, in the form of a prayer.
I do not want your prayers, nor are they intended for me, yet I receive them because I can’t not. I am omniscient as a fact of my nature. So I pick them up like sad little envelopes drooping from the mail slot of the universe, bearing the mark: “Return to sender.” I read every one, and I never answer. Or, I should say, never answered. Because one day, I did.
The prayer of Tara Patton, a mortician in Providence, Rhode Island, reached me at the same time as a planet in a nearby galaxy swung out of its unstable orbit and collided with a star in an explosion of light and rubble before the star extinguished and that quadrant of the galaxy fell into darkness. Her outreach to me was no more than a short yet potent blast of feeling and will, but it was unmistakably a prayer. I do not feel as you feel, for emotion implies a personal perspective that is necessarily very limited. Yet I could read Tara’s broadcast emotions clearly.
Intrigued, I focused my attention on her, to about the same degree as I was observing a black hole pull a ringed planet in towards its inevitable demise, and a binary star system blink rapidly back and forth in celestial discourse. She stood over her steel worktable, which bore the body of Christopher Lane, a seventeen-year-old boy whose only point of light in life had been his boyfriend, and when Matt drove his car into a tree while intoxicated, Christopher slit his wrists to follow, he thought, in his partner’s footsteps.
Tara had dressed him in his best suit, applied a light palate of cosmetics, and was preparing her glue and needle and thread for the final touches. What had been so intriguing to me about her prayer was not that it was her first, nor that it was for someone other than herself when she had recently received the news that she was dying of an incurable brain cancer. What made it outstanding from the millions of others that shared its same moment of utterance, was the inexplicable, transcendent quality of it, the likes of which were resemblant only of qualities in myself.
Though I had been surprised by her prayer, she evidently found it more surprising when I poured a small portion of my consciousness into the body of Christopher Lane and sat up.
She screamed and leapt back, but her back hit the wall, causing the contents on the shelves above her to rattle threateningly. I waited for her to calm down before speaking.
“Hello, Tara,” I said.
“Christopher?” she asked, still not quite as calm as I would have liked.
“Who are you then?” she asked, voice quavering.
“You may call me Infinity,” I replied. This held no meaning for her of course, so I elaborated, “I am all of existence, with the power to create or destroy every galaxy in his universe with less than a thought, and you, very limitedly, call me God.”
“That’s...not possible,” she said, trying hard to block out what I was telling her.
“You believe in something whole-heartedly and yet you reject it when it greets you face-to-face.”
“Because that’s not how it works!” she protested.
“You are correct in that I do not usually undertake these kinds of endeavors. However, you have captured my interest.”
“How?” she asked, voice finally level. Give humans enough time, and they will adjust to any circumstances.
“You prayed to me a moment ago, for the soul of this boy.”
“Are you...answering my prayer?”
“No. Christopher’s energy has been recycled in a manner similar to how his body will be recycled over the next few centuries. The convergence of energy and matter that was Christopher Lane no longer exists.”
A spark of fear flared within her before she tamped it down. “Are you saying that there is nothing after death? We’re just...scrapped for parts?”
“That is an appropriate metaphor for the rather more complicated system, yes.”
“I don’t believe that,” she said stubbornly.
“I am telling it to you as a fact. You refuse to believe it because you are afraid of death.”
“I refuse to believe it because then I don’t have to be afraid of death,” she argued.
“The difference is arbitrary.”
“You were saying something about my prayer for Christopher,” she changed topic.
“Yes. I would like to know why you made it,” I said, knowing that she would not understand if I asked her how she had made it. “You have never prayed before, not even for the other deceased you have attended to, and more to the point, you had no more reason for doing so this time. I know all of your thoughts, and not one of them holds the logic behind your action.”
“I guess you’re not as omnipotent as you thought.”
“I am not omnipotent. I am omniscient.”
“Destroying galaxies seems pretty omnipotent to me,” she remarked. "I'd say the difference is arbitrary."
I looked down at the fresh scars across Christopher’s wrists. “I cannot destroy myself.”
“Do you want to?” she asked.
“I do not ‘want’ anything.”
“Then why do you do what you do, controlling existence and all that?”
“Change is the driving force of time, and without it everything would be at a standstill. I would cease to have consequence. This way seems more logical.”
“Well there’s your problem then,” she said triumphantly. “That’s why you don’t understand. I prayed for Christopher because I wanted to. Just because I felt like I should. There was no logic or reasoning to it. I just did it because it felt like the thing to do.”
“But you are a creature of spirit and body. It is impossible for you to act solely out of corporeal or spiritual motives. One always colors the other.”
“‘The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.’ Do you know who said that?” she asked.
“Of course I do.”
“Do you know what it means?”
I would have answered. I knew all of the analyses made of that quote as well as the author’s own thoughts on it, however vague and occasionally contradictory. However, she stepped towards me instead of awaiting a reply, and cautiously pressed three fingers to Christopher’s forearm.
“Can you feel that?” she asked.
“No,” I replied. “Christopher’s nerve synapses are all dead.”
She sighed. “Then you’ll just have to take my word for it. These feelings,” she said, gripping Christopher's arm, “are linked to our ‘spiritual’ feelings as you call them. And these feelings have no logic or reason. They just happen.”
“You’re saying that your corporeal state causes your spiritual state to behave like a body, so that it is, at times, purely reactional and driven by impulses of entirely spontaneous origin.”
“Yeah. That sounds about right.”
“What if I were to tell you that your theory is impossible and simply incorrect?”
“Then I’d say you were lying.”
“I do not lie,” I informed her.
“Is that why you pose hypotheticals?” she challenged.
“I have been privy to every human motive since the genesis of your species, and they have all had a component of logic. Not always self-interest, but there has always been a reason for the things that you do.”
“Well, what I told you is what I believe, and I obviously did something that you can’t explain.”
She was right, and the knowledge made me feel just a little insecure.
She continued, “Since you’re purely spiritual, and you don’t know what it feels like to draw breath or feel your heart beat or be touched, then by your logic you can have no understanding whatsoever of what it’s like to be corporeal. You simply don’t have illogical impulses.” She looked at me defiantly. “Tell me I’m wrong.”
I considered what she had said. The black hole had torn, then compressed the planet into pieces of sub-microscopic density. The binary star system had blinked back and forth several dozen times. “It has been...something new talking with you, Tara. I believe you’ve given me the answers I sought. Thank you.”
I retracted that tendril of myself from the body of Christopher Lane, leaving Tara blinking at my sudden departure. She would die three months later, and her body would be lying on that same table two days after that.
I maintain that Tara was a unique human being. One moment in her life, she acted upon pure, emotional impulse—something that no other of her kind has ever done. And it was all because she believed she could, a belief that she held tightly to even when I tried to convince her that it was false. Yet it is not this singular occurrence that is the point of this written account.
I contradict myself often. It is impossible for me not to, for I contain multitudes of conflicting elements. However, I have made one major contradiction. Did you catch it? I said that I felt insecure while speaking with Tara. I felt insecure. I, a being of pure spiritual logic, felt. I suspect it was the combined effect of the emotion in Tara’s earlier prayer and being in her forceful presence, and perhaps of having a body, despite it being dead. Nonetheless, I, infinite and omniscient, learned something from Tara Patton, and it is the reason I am writing this story: I am not as omniscient as I thought.