Mack joins Papa on the porch and begins to enjoy some fresh-baked scones she’s made. Papa says they are from Mack’s great-great-great grandmother’s recipe. As he eats the scones, Mack apologizes for being so hard on Papa in the past. He thanks Papa for letting him see Missy, recalling the thought of his princess behind the waterfall. Reminded of the Multnomah legend, Mack asks if Missy had to die so Papa could change him. Papa is adamant: she says that just because she is able to create good out of tragedy doesn’t mean she orchestrates tragedies. She says that just because she used pain for good doesn’t mean that she caused the pain. Mack is relieved to hear this.
Mack still has lingering doubts about how Papa works, brought to the surface when he connects the waterfall with the story of the Multnomah princess who sacrificed herself at the behest of the Great Spirit. Earlier, Mack felt that God allowed bad things to happen. Here he returns to a similar but slightly different idea: that God allows bad things to happen in order to create positive good elsewhere. But Papa reminds him that tragedies are the product of humans straying from God, not something that God causes. And that God then tries to create good out of negative situations. Despite all he has seen, Mack’s ideas about the nature of God are persistent.
Mack says he feels lighter with the knowledge that Missy didn’t die for his sake, as well as realizing that he had been judging God but has the capacity to stop. Still, he doesn’t understand why Papa chose to help him. He feels guilty that he has had such difficulty accepting Papa. Papa says that, like many, he hides inside lies to avoid getting hurt.
Sophia’s lessons have begun to impact Mack: he realizes that his ideas about God are actually judgments that make him feel more removed from God, and that he can choose to stop making such judgments.
Mack says that he lied to Nan about coming to the shack because he didn’t want to hurt her, but Papa says that is just a justification. Papa says he was really just scared of having to deal with the emotions he would have encountered if he had told Nan the truth. If he hadn’t lied, Nan could be there with them now. Papa says the only solution is to tell her and ask for forgiveness.
Papa gets to the heart of another issue that has been causing Mack pain without him realizing it: because Mack doesn’t like facing and contemplating difficult emotions, he avoids confronting his feelings and those of his loved ones. And, Papa further explains, he will justify and lie to himself and others in order to avoid those confrontations, which separates him from those others. Papa’s suggested remedy is connection and honesty, which is manifested in revealing the truth and asking for forgiveness.
Papa explains that the evil in the world is not caused by her to gain people’s love. Instead, evil flows from independence, which is a choice that people make for themselves. In order for people to truly, freely love Papa, she must allow them the choice to commit evil. Papa says that the chaos of the world has purpose that must be allowed to unfold, even though it puts those she loves into horrible tragedies.
Once again, Papa reiterates the point that evil derives from humans’ decision to stray from God. According to her, they are allowed to do so because their love for God must come freely rather than being coerced. Just as negative emotions and poisonous plants serve a difficult but necessary purpose in the wider tapestry of life, these evils also come to be part of the fabric of the world.
Realizing she’s referring to Jesus, Mack asks what Jesus accomplished by dying. Papa says that Jesus’s death and resurrection allowed Papa to become fully reconciled with the world. Feeling both his mind and stomach are full, Mack helps Papa clear the dishes.
Papa explains another piece of the nature of God, which is that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God became irrevocably tied to humans. In this way, God, by God’s own choice, cannot abandon humans as Mack imagines.