‘It’s all in the pain,’ Paul begins, ‘take your pain and you have god.’ This is the question reduced, this is the culmination of weeks of discussion on evil and pain. It ends with a proof for the existence of god. ‘Pascal once observed: no great christian thinker has ever used Nature to prove the existence of god. That is, without blinking, they knew it was too evil.’
‘If I might exercise a little of our vocabulary,’ Paul continues, ‘let us remember what shalom means.’ We have been talking about this word, now, extensively in the past two weeks. It is a word one might at first find child-like, gentle, soothing. It’s potential synonyms lead one to think so: happy, friendly, health, welfare, wholly. But that is the beginning. Notice how it is used. ‘The world is always in shalom. Nature is in shalom. We say, we encourage one another to achieve, shalom.’ Paul laughs, ‘how have others missed the demand here.’
Notice what Paul is laughing at. Nature is in shalom, that is, nature is in shalom with or without us. ‘Nature is vigorously pursuing shalom, there is a point when happiness, friendliness, that feeling of wholeness, consumes those around it.’ Paul draws a circle in the sand. He drops a pebble inside. ‘There is nothing more frightening than energy (and what generates more energy than utter happiness) surrounding someone who is not at a comparable happiness, energy, shalom.’
‘Shalom swallows,’ Paul piles sand upon the pebble.
‘Shalom stirs awe.’ Paul looks at me.
That is, there is a sort of affirmation as we observe shalom. As we watch the world stir and fly by us, we recognize, it is indifferent at the very least. We are not at all sure, if it has a direction, whether to good or bad. It is just itself. It is whole. Even if we say peace, this does not mean it is not atrophying toward destruction. Shalom is a hard word to swallow, upon reflection.
‘It is here where I scream,’ Paul holds the side of his face, ‘get up, you lethargic man, you sick one, conquer!’ It is that simple, this is where our reflections have lead us in the past two weeks as we have sat on the problem of pain and evil. The shalom matters less in its intimidation than it does in what it causes you to do in return. ‘Return,’ Paul stops me, ‘exactly! Shalom begs you to return. It cat and mouses you to try your hand again. Like a spider reaching out with eight legs, try with all eight!’
So where is the proof in the existence of god, you might ask? Well, it is not easy to answer. But consider this world of shalom, how this world is only getting harder, the more the world is in shalom. We must overcome shalom with shalom. How? Why? Where does this urging come? Where is the teacher to teach us such a paradoxical truth?
‘It stirs in the words, we are more than conquerors,’ Paul kicks up his feet. ‘It is excess, it is exaggeration, it is the overflow of water from a pool in summer.’
As Paul said it, I began to think of a cryptic image. In the middle of battle, upon the Sahara desert between two tribes armed with grenades. Only grenades. The competing forces pair off in a line, seemingly, off into infinity. Then, as if a joke, a grenade rolls (from which side no one can tell) between the lined up soldiers. Time stands still as every man, from both sides, grinds through his wheel house of logic what to do.
Then, in a split second, a small boy leaps from one side, and curls around the grenade. The two sides, except for the boy straddling the grenade, retreat.
We are left with the image of sand filling the heavens, not sure if it’s from the grenade or the soldiers decisive retreat.
‘Yes!’ Paul interjects ‘Heroism, screams of evil.’ I watch Paul digest the story. ‘We try to overcome evil, despite our own evil! How beauty is ugly!’
‘There is Jesus.’ Paul says. ‘That is the proof of the existence of god.’