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Driving along I 90, God and I spotted an ominous black billboard with red letters proclaiming “After you die, you WILL meet God.” The absurdity made us laugh. When God rides shotgun, the drive gets much more interesting.

“Now there’s an eyesore! Who do you think put that up?” God asked. Oh fun, I thought. A road game, like I spy with my little eye. (I play this with the grandchildren.) We’ll call this one Who put up that billboard?

“Well,” I said. “I’m guessing it’s someone you know quite well, but who only knows you through the lenses of judgement or vengeance. Am I right?”

“You’re warm,” God said.

“Okay. Let’s see. It’s got to be someone who’s unaware of all the places you hang out. Someone who doesn’t understand you make everyone’s acquaintance long before they open their eyes.” God nodded and gazed out the window, wispy tendrils of lavender floating around his head.

“And someone who has trouble understanding your infinite, ongoing, outlandish forgivingness. A bully, even. Trying to scare people into thinking you’re a bully too.”

God looked at me, grinned, and adjusted the seat. “These Prius seats are worse than economy class on the newer airplanes. Really hard on my lower back,” God said. “Think you can get the answer before Butte?”

I shrugged. The game was losing its appeal. I realized I didn’t like the person behind that billboard. I wanted to put another one alongside that said “You’ll meet God too, buddy. He’ll be gay. She’ll be the hungry one to your left. The homeless, uninsured drunk. He’ll be the one you put in the private, for-profit prison. She’ll be cold. Broke. Possibly abused. You will have crucified her more times than I can count.”

“Any more guesses?” God interrupted my line of thought. An answer had occurred to me. I didn’t want to say it, but with God, there’s no such thing. I hemmed and hawed. Then I just blurted it.

“It’s my neighbor, isn’t it?” I tightened my grip on the wheel, eyebrows knit together, angry tears welling up in my eyes.

“Right!!” God said. “Ding, ding, ding. You win. Way to go.”

“Ah, shit,” I said, using a word I usually avoid. God had tricked me again. “I should’ve known. I can’t love people like that, God. I just can’t.”

“Sure you can,” God said. His gnarled black hand covered mine for a moment, sending a wave of heat through my body. “I believe in you. Go for it. Remember, I’ve got your back.”

“Nonsense,” I said, giving God a punch in the shoulder.

“Nonsense,” God answered. We stopped in Butte for coffee.

11 thoughts on “Shotgun

  1. Whew! AND Wow! The issue of loving everyone, especially people who identify as being christian, just as I identify, but who have such exclusionary, judgemental, self-righteous, and pious ideas about what it means to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” has been a challenge to me all my life! And I am almost 70 years old!….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is good, having almost given up on what passes for Christianity in Amerika today. So I just wanna walk away from the folks who put up that sign and limit my exposure to them. It just hurts less.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sometimes, I think walking away is the most loving thing we can do. Unlikely they want much exposure to you, so it is kind of like enacting the Golden Rule :). But then, if they really need us, need love, need compassion…yup. Gotta go there.


    1. Thanks Jean. We all have a lot of snark available these days. I take refuge in the examples of love and compassion in the face of hate, but sometimes, I’m not sure what love even means–it isn’t hugs and approval of hateful things…


  4. Hi Rita!!
    Love your Short Visits as always– Went to the dentist today and was going to have an implant– but I couldn’t…somehow I have developed a hole in my gum and the dentist isn’t assured that the “hole” won’t be a conduit for infection. What unexpected challenges life presents….small or large… we deal with unsettling news.
    Love you my friend

    Liked by 1 person

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