“When was the last time you prayed?”
I hesitate. I don’t want to be judged for my real answer. But I also don’t want to lie in church.
“I never have time.” His frown immediately makes me regret it. But it’s true. I work eight to twelve hours a day. By the time I get home, I’m dead tired. I barely have enough energy to cook something. And once I’ve had dinner, it’s time for bed. Time to call it a night and do it all over again the next day.
Internally, I groan. I’m so sick of getting God’s word secondhand from “connected” people, even if it’s my pastor. For once, I’d like to hear God say it Himself.
“Daughter, I’ll stop the world for you.”
“That’s what He says.”
“But, but why did you change your voice?”
He tilts his head. “I didn’t.”
“You said it like, like—” The best way I can describe it is like thunder. Like a loud, sudden crack of thunder that comes right after that dreadful stillness that follows a bright flash of lightning.
“God is speaking to you. Listen.”
“But what does it mean?”
“No one can understand the mysteries of God.”
I go home unsatisfied. On the drive, I see the world still moves. Cars zoom by. Trucks honk their horns. When I put my key in my apartment door, I hear my neighbors fighting next door.
How will He stop it? Disable all machines and put us back in the dark ages? Get rid of all the people? The thought of being alone with Him frightens me. I’m really not great company. I’m terribly depressed most days.
When will He stop it? I wonder as I climb into bed and hear the hum of the highway through the window. Maybe there’s something I must do first.
I kick my feet over, get on my knees and clasp my hands in front of me.
This is where I always start and stop. Because I never know what to say, or how to say it. The prayer warriors make it seem so effortless in intercessory prayer. They sit in the sanctuary and on command are babbling in tongues. I can’t even start my own prayer because I’m distracted by them. Is it a true prayer? Is it in a language the someone somewhere understands? Does God move their lips like that? Or are they just making noise to sound holy.
I have to remind myself, there’s no one here to distract me now. That’s when I notice something else is different. It’s quiet. So quiet I can hear my own heart beating in my hears. Then the boom of thunder.
I quickly bow my head. “Father?”
© 2021 Nortina Simmons
While the original Twilight Zone series covered an array of topics ranging from science fiction, politics, social justice, to the downright creepy, one thing you were almost always guaranteed to get at the end of each episode was a moral. Similar to those fables we used to read in childhood. As we close out this year, let’s take a pause and reflect on what’s most important for us and take that into 2022.
Oh, and this story is a mashup of “Time Enough at Last” (next to “Willoughby,” one of my all-time favorites), “The Mind and the Matter,” and “A Kind of Stopwatch,” but it’s also something totally different and new.