They left the abandoned saloon, slipping out the side doors, sticking quietly to the shadows as the day got hot and tracking Larry turned cold. It wasn't that they could find boot tracks; there were thousands, some of them looked a hundred years old. And if the wind picked up, the tracks vanished entirely.
The kids had eaten through the candy bars, the energy bars, the donuts, the peanuts, the ham sandwiches, apples and the bananas, and the little cherry hand pies. In fact, they were down to the crumbs and losing steam fast. Their moods were as dismal as their stomachs were hungry. They stopped to rest against an old shed, in a backyard. People said down in the shade, Omega sat down on a stack of lumber.
"So if God provides for everything, why am I so hungry? Why is anybody hungry?" Tim the not-so-very-shy kid asked.
"I think . . ." Petey explained. "That it's about taking care of everybody. Everybody is supposed to take care of everybody. We're all supposed to be a family, maybe a community."
"Does that extend to chocolate-covered peanut butter munchies? 'Cause you know, I could use one right now," Cheryl said.
"I want an caramel and pecan energy bar," Rick said. "And a soda. Then I might need another one. Where do I put in my order?"
"I'm gonna pray to heaven, high, high, high up into heaven for some carmeled apples and then some ham sandiwiches," Julie said. "See how that works."
"You don't have to go that far," Omega said.
"How far do I have to go, for my prayers to work?"
"As close as your heart beat; as close as your breath." Omega said. "People used to think that heaven was far, far away, and invisible for lots of people, hopelessly impossible to reach. But God made heaven and earth at the same time. In heaven, everybody loves God 'cause they can see Him and feel Him and it is wonderful. He's really, really close."
John-John said, "And on earth, people got the gift of free will. They could do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. They didn't have to love God. So lots of people don't. It's not so much like heaven, although it's got it's beautiful moments."
"I can tell you what hell is to me," Petey was very loud and very boisterous at that moment.
"What is it?" Tim asked.
"It's people with bad intentions left to their own devices, their own thoughts, their own actions. It's awful. It's hell. Lots of bad feelings, lots of bad, sad outcomes. Never any happiness. Never any understanding, never any love. Nobody is a friend, can be a friend, 'cause all they can think about is themselves, maybe a little bit of sex, maybe a whole lotta money." Petey was quieter now, more thoughtful.
"So God is very close, actually he's here now." Omega stood up. "You can't see him because he's in another dimension. The physicists think there are many, many dimensions. Some of the dimensions are no bigger than a quark; some of them can have multiple universes, bigger than the one you are in now, one of the biggest ones is heaven. That's the one God is in, and sometimes he slips over into our dimensions. Especially when people do great things, do loving things. You can actually feel him. It feels sacred. It feels generous. It feels beautiful. And it feels like love."
"I feel like that around new babies and little kids," said Cheryl
"I feel like that when I'm on a long, run, and suddenly the adrenaline kicks in and I feel like I could run forever," Rick said.
"I feel like that when I'm outside at night and all the stars seem huge and very, very close," Tim said.
"I feel like that when my mom makes a banana cream pie," Julie said, "and that makes Tim very, very happy."
"Makes me happy too, Julie. It feels like a mama's love." Omega said.
"Makes me happy too," Larry said, popping up behind some old boards, leaning against the shed. "Thought you guys would never get here,"