Dear Brown God,
I ate white bread for you today. Yes, I did. I swallowed my aversion, draped a delicate veil of righteousness over my shoulders, and let the elements slide down my throat.
I did this without expectation. Frankly, it was mostly for show. But suddenly, there you were, sidling my direction. I shook my head, signaling you should leave me alone. My face said, “Do not sit anywhere near me.” You ignored my face.
We sat in uncomfortable silence on the back bench. When the time came for confession of sins, I scratched you a note, “Do not expect much from me. I’m white like the bread, inside and out.” But I didn’t have the courage to slide it over. We stared straight ahead. I felt myself starting to come apart. Like a shy lover, you gently took my hand, entwining our fingers one by one. No one noticed this merger, this complete dissolution of boundary and intent. In what was left of my center, a longing welled up to be poor, and brown, and hungry. To be courageous, worthy, alive. There, amongst acquaintances, I was a refugee—landless, homeless, stripped of my claims to humanity. Then I was a snowy owl, a field of lilies, a night, blackened by the turning of the earth, given a small reprieve by galaxies that refuse to be silenced.
A ragtag choir rushed to the front and began to sing the haunting plea, Dona Nobis Pachem. They were joined by the Gay Men’s Choir from San Francisco, and then by what appeared to be German children, mostly blond, and an orchestra, complete with a massive section of violins. They played. They sang. They begged for peace. You and I, God. You and I. We drank the music in like water. We sang until we dissolved, flowing in harmony toward the rising sea. All that remained was a little smear of hope on the new carpet. It glowed iridescent beneath the worn boots of those who will always stay faithfully behind.
And now, back in my tentative body, a howling wind is blowing me sideways. The evening is falling hard. I’m writing you this note to say I’m sorry. No matter how many times you stop by and remind me to be brave, and to eat with joy, I’m still a bit selfish and afraid.
Dona Nobis Pachem, Brown God. And rest well. Tomorrow will be another day.