Bill, the north African caretaker of the Chateau de la Reine Blanche was an albino. The hair on his short stocky body was whiter than white. He wore round glass frames and nondescript clothing to work every day. Before leaving to go to work, he would light a candle, say a prayer to his Lord, take a last look at his very organized studio apartment before locking up and then would take the metro number 6, Les Goblins to work.
He would arrive very early each day at the castle, open the security gates and once inside walk directly to the small door that led to his tiny office. He would repeat the same gestures once inside, verifying the sign in and sign out papers, check the keys on their hanger, then he would prepare his wash cart for the mornings cleaning circuit. Everyday at the exact same hour he did the same things, repeated those same gestures, said hello to the same people, usually waiting for them to address him first of course.
At precisely 8:00 a.m., he would fill his bucket with water from the court yards faucet and water the rose bushes in their pots and eventually pull out any uninvited weeds that might have found their way in. Doing things methodically the way he did was a way of keeping sanity: like rituals of prayer throughout the day. He felt that if he did things the same way, at the same hour each and every day, that no one could ever cite him for wrong doing. If they did, they would have to say that he had made the same mistakes every day for the years before, the months before, the days before and so on. And during certain chores, he would be praying, though no one could possible know that. He kept his face still without expression.
And so life continued this way for him without regrets, without questions, without any apparent change. He would tell himself that he liked life that way – would repeat this fact to others if someone asked him (usually no one did) & with the same answers i.e. : “I’m fine thank you. How are you?” …Bill liked the sameness of every day, the sameness of every evening. Monotony was a good thing. It made him feel safe. And there was the praying too.
The more that things were the same, the less he would feel unsure, troubled or surprised even. Bill didn’t like surprises generally speaking, there was too much room for unpleasantness. It was one of the reasons he had never married. Being with someone full time was too much organization, too many unknowns, too many opportunities for pain and suffering. He didn’t like to suffer, didn’t want others to suffer either and besides he wasn’t very sexually inclined. He liked girls when he was younger, women too now that he was older, but he didn’t relate to them, couldn’t truly understand them. Love was important, he would tell himself, but would then justify it all away. Besides he had God.
His relationship with God was constant. God followed him everywhere, was everywhere; God was in his heart, his soul. God had filled him up to such an extent that he felt he needed nothing else, felt that he needed no one. God sustained him – was his wine and cracker every day.
One day he dared to step outside of his rigid daily grind. He was cleaning the stone window sills on the outside of the castle, the cars whizzing by, people hurrying off to work, taking their kids to the nearby schools. There was constant noise everywhere and it somehow exacerbated his solitude. Where was the world going? Were these people thinking about God? Or of what they had to do? He knew the world was going towards Hell – all the signs were there. He had to speak to someone about it.
It was then that Gelledge passed by with his 2 little dogs on a leash. He said hello openly and asked about his well being -something that almost no one ever did! He took his chances and asked in return, “Have I asked you about what you think of God?” He trembled while waiting for an answer, his hands twitching nervously.
“Yes, you have,” responded the American dressed in white sweat pants and a red sweater. His 2 dogs pulling on their leashes. It was pee time and they were no longer moving.
“What do you think about God?”
“I don’t. He doesn’t exist. I’m an atheist.” Was the reply.
Bills heart felt a crushing sensation. His head felt as if there were suddenly ants crawling in there.
“That doesn’t mean anything saying you’re an atheist. How do you think you got here? How do you think you were created?” Bill tried to keep calm, but the words were accelerating on their own – the volume had been switched up.
“Created? I don’t know exactly how “I” came to be. But there has never been any proof of God’s existence. There is however scientific proof concerning our evolution….There ha…” Bill cut him off.
“God created you. Yes, there is proof! You are proof of God’s existence – right here! You breath because of God!” His red face seemed to start taking on strange forms as if he would implode. He remembered his training from church and took a deep breath. Keep centered on what you want to ask. Get the person to say something and then use those words as a way to question him back. It was a technique of getting people off balance. Once off balance, you built a bridge for them – offering a solution to their doubts.
“So you came from a monkey? That’s what you think? And what about the future of mankind? Do you like what’s happening?…”
Gelledge took a deep breath. He had had numerous discussions with Johova’s Witnesses before. When living in Marseille, a woman came by regularly with an “assistant” to preach or discuss ideas. Gelledge accepted these discussions because he thought it was interesting but also because she normally came with an attractive male assistant.
“Well, I respect your right to believe what you want,” Gelledge began. “But it’s very difficult to have a discussion based on beliefs. It’s what you believe so…”
“And what about the Bible?!” Hammered Bill wanting to nail in more weight to his argument.
“The Bible was written by men.” Was the response.
“Yes, but inspired by God!!!”
“No, I don’t think so. Only men.” The answer was with a normal voice tone. Bill’s insides were flooding with pulsating anguish. How could this guy say those things about the Bible? About God?!
“Remember this,” he began. “The day when Jesus comes back with the day of reckoning – remember what I told you!” He wanted to add, “you’ll be sorry you didn’t listen,” but didn’t. He turned away and continued to clean the stone window sills. He would pretend to no longer see the American after that.
Gelledge replied, “Okay, well I have to go,” as the dogs pulled more forcefully on the leash.
Another day in Paradise, he thought. The religious blackmailing concept had been heard many times years before during his childhood: an idea that if you were ignorant or didn’t accept the concept of Jesus Christ being the son of God that you would burn for ever in the fires of Hell. Fear, fire and damnation. These types of threats came from followers of different religious groups – he had heard it numerous times and yet was always surprised to hear it again. If ever God had existed and had been perfect, then perfection would not make people suffer with terrible pain & suffering because of conceived ignorance &/or refusal to believe in something.
No, religion was made by men, the concept of God fabricated by man to give previously unattainable answers to people with answers to “What is life?” “Who are we?” “Where did we come from?” But also, to govern people, to build power, to reap rewards of money and power. Religion was putting on a pair of colored glasses and seeing everything through them. It was denial to see what was truly happening. It was denial. It was about NOT taking responsibility for ones actions and for others – only God decided. Religious groups even borrowed the concept of values (or morality) as if values were born from the church – which is not the case.
Gelledge thought about Winnie The Pooh and a quote that his friend Brittany had sent the other day. It showed Piglet & Winnie walking hand in hand in a forest and Piglet asked, “What is your favorite day of the week?”
“Today,’ replied Winnie.