I know the story of a rich man, cured
of wounds, or plague, or pox, or leprosy—
whatever—sick or dying, anyway,
who'd made a vow: If the Almighty heard
his prayer and made him whole again, then he
would build a great cathedral to display
his gratitude in lofty gothic stone.
That's how it is with me. I make my own
bargains with God (of course it's understood
by God I mean myself). "God," I might vow,
"just let the biopsy be negative—
I'll mend my ways; be kind, unselfish, good."
Compare my pledge to his, that even now
lifts its spire: Cheaper, what I'd give—
a good deal, for a thing like death deferred.
But how long do you think I keep my word?
(c) 2000; originally printed in
Pivot. Reprinted by
permission of the
My Treasured Collection