I click on a link, a new tab opens, but in it I see only this: “The server understands the request, but is refusing to fulfill it.” Somehow it would be less sad if the server simply couldn’t understand my request. But to understand and not to fulfill. . . . God always answers our prayers, the father told his little girl. But sometimes the answer is No. It’s like that, I suppose. Somewhere beyond all comprehension is the Server — well, we like to think of our deities as such, don’t we? as cosmic meeters of our mundane needs? — and the Server understands.

Well, as the saying goes, Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner, and we can only hope that that’s true. But in the meantime would it not be possible for my request to be fulfilled? It seems so little to ask. Yet the unanswerable sentence remains, click and re-click though I may: “The server understands the request, but is refusing to fulfill it.”

There may be, I think, some hope in the tense: “is refusing” — is refusing for now. Perhaps it won’t always be this way. Perhaps some day the server will not just understand but will also fulfill. For now there’s only the waiting.