Spending any amount of time with Patrick will make you feel like a bit player in an old X-Files episode, especially when he pulls out his notebook. And he will. That thing’s always with him, closer than anything else, as if he’s just waiting for an opportunity to open your eyes to what’s going on around us.
Granted, the notebook is a work of wonder, almost elegant in its construction. Charts and notes and carefully taped newspaper clippings. Patrick’s done his work, there’s no doubt about that. Hours upon hours of scouring periodicals and the internet to make his calculations. All to prove to himself and all he meets that the end is nigh. We are living in the last days, he says. And he always says it with a peculiar glint in his eye, like someone who happens upon a car accident and hopes to see blood.
The proof, at least according to him, lines those hundred or so pages. You would think it was a meteorological textbook if you didn’t know better. There are reports of the Haiti earthquake (“200,000 deaths” is written in the margin in red ink), the Pakistan floods, the quake in Chile. Paths of hurricanes. Volcanic eruptions. And an entire section on cyclones. Patrick’s big on cyclones.
“See?” he says. And you can’t help but to see, because by then Patrick’s managed to put the notebook directly in front of your face. “And that’s just this year!”
To him, the signs couldn’t be more obvious. It’s as if God Himself is screaming down from heaven and telling us to hang on, that things are going to get a bit bumpy but everything will be okay in the end.
Most people who know Patrick have learned it’s best to just let him talk and get it over with. Try to argue with him, try to refuse, and he may just call down fire and brimstone. I agree with both of those sentiments. You never now. I listened to him and didn’t mind. It’s always good to listen when someone has something to say.
Patrick never says exactly what if anything we’re supposed to do about this situation. It isn’t like we can prevent earthquakes and volcanoes and hurricanes and cyclones, much less subvert the will of the Almighty. But I guess knowing an end is close can be a good thing. It gives us time to go ahead and get things in order.
A part of me thinks he’s crazy, of course. Not crazy as in certifiable—in many ways, Patrick’s more normal than I am—but crazy as in misguided. He could be right, though. Maybe God really is about to put the period on the end of humanity’s long and rambling sentence. The End is certainly closer today than it was yesterday, strictly speaking.
Folks say talk about the end of the world increases during tough times. Life can resemble a race, and at some point trying as hard as you can gives way to a weariness that longs for the finish line. Maybe that’s what fuels Patrick’s preoccupation. Maybe that’s what’s behind the newspaper clippings and the notes in red pen. Just a weariness and a longing to rest. If so, then I understand.
I do think God is screaming down from heaven, though. I do think He’s telling us to hang on and watch for those bumps and look forward to the end.
But I think He’s saying more, too. I think He’s saying that the shadows haven’t engulfed the hope just yet, that there is still beauty and grace and joy and love here.
And I think He’s saying that His patience hasn’t run out. There is still a chance to start again and make things right.
Because after all, there are a lot more sunrises than cyclones.