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An Essay On Faith, Life and Ingmar Bergman

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As a child, I frequently fantasized about capturing a genie in a bottle.

What would I do with my three wishes? Money. I typically dreamed of money. And as evidenced by my purchasing of a lottery ticket from time to time, the illusion of wealth is not a wish that dies off with age and supposed wisdom.

Maybe another wish was world peace? I’ve always been somewhat of an idealist, so that seems right. I think sometimes I wished for the most beautiful woman in the world. I’ve always been a guy, so that seems viable. I may have wished to be president. I have basically been insane most of my life, so that seems pertinent.

That middle wish often changed.

However, the first and third never did.

It was always “to be rich.”

And something else.

My third wish was one derived from fear. As a child I was raised in a loosely Catholic household. The strong faith was there, but my parents weren’t overly strict practitioners. Mainly, I was taught that it was good to practice your faith on your own and of your own volition. However, this practice should be powerful and resolute.

So I was staunch in my Christian faith.

I always have been and probably always will be.

Yet as a child I had trepidation. A trait that, as an adult, has not waned over time. I have always had this fear of going to hell. That maybe I wasn’t good enough to go to heaven. Because, I am essentially a good person. But, maybe not quite THAT good. Maybe I didn’t say my prayers with quite enough conviction? It does seem that I often go through the motions. Maybe the sex out of wedlock or the public drunkenness might edge out the prayers and the compassion and all of those actions and characteristics which are in my favor? It’s a compelling case either way.

But the young innocuous Bill felt that he devised a way to ensure the gluttony and the impure thoughts and whatever badness might lie ahead, would not do him in when he got to the Pearly Gates.

Yes, my final wish was to go to heaven.

No matter what.

I am not sure why I felt the genie’s power somehow circumvented God’s power, but I was looking to have all the bases covered. For some reason, I assumed God would respect that last wish. I also did not want to make that wish so I could have carte blanche to do anything I wanted, although, I suppose as I got older, and more nefarious, knowing I had a free ride would probably cause me to wreak havoc in some form on the world.


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Bill Wetzel is Amskapi Pikuni aka Blackfeet from Montana. His writing has appeared in the American Indian Culture & Research Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, Studies In Indian Literatures (SAIL), Hinchas de Poesia, Red Ink Magazine, Literary (more...)

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