On the Pleasures of Shaffer (Part 1)


FOR MARGARET, WHO FIGHTS THE SAME BATTLE OVER AND OVER
by Nancy Shaffer

Listen.
When you quarrel with God
really you are quarreling with
those who have come after God.
It is not God who taught you only
a certain prayer or said reward
lies in only one direction. It is not
God who said “reward” rather than
“embracing love” which is everywhere.
Not God who taught you to hate
God, shun God. Those like you–
two-legged and mortal–did this: those
also hurt, in turn, by others before them.

You could leave off this quarreling:
just begin again, with just yourself
and God. You can choose a different
name for the Holy; stop cringing when
I say mine. Each is only a word for what
can’t be said, the barest beginning,
a glimpse. The rest you may do in private.

But see: what you do there in private,
shows: what you come back with is written
all over you. It doesn’t matter
what the particular word is. Only
that you return there often, opening
yourself to everything that makes it.

Those who taught you what to pray and
how to pray were wrong, if what they
taught you, you hate.

You can begin again.

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