“Hey God,” I said, barely awake enough to keep my balance while getting breakfast together. It had been a long night, peppered with images of clergy trying to reclaim the name of Jesus and the faces of friends, offended or cheering, and images of crying children. Political pawns—all of us—political pawns in a game best named Greed. I’m a bit player, but I play. We all play.
“This thing about the name of Jesus, or the name of anyone for that matter. I’ve never quite understood it,” I said, spilling a little coffee on myself. I always fill the cup too full.
“Yeah, I know,” God said. “It’s confusing. Is a rose still a rose if you call it fruit-of-thorn-bush?”
I wanted to say yes, but I wasn’t sure. Essence versus label. Image versus substance. Symbol versus reality. At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow? The name? I don’t think so.
“You know I’m not a formula, right?” God asked, trying to be of help. “And you know I’ve tried my darnedest to urge humans along, to reduce the fear, to increase the joy, right? I’ve tried to make it safe to love. Safe to kneel.”
I nodded. Then an awful realization crept into my soul. God wasn’t talking about the usual kind of safety. The good ones suffer and die. The children of God don’t get a pass, no matter how they were conceived or received—named or framed. Having arrived at the evolutionary pinnacle of being able to see ourselves as made in the image of God means nothing in the realm of power, money, influence, safety, or ease of life. It only means we have a couple of choices the rest of creation does not appear to have: We can choose self-sacrifice. We can choose to defy hatred. We can give our lives for our friends. We can love our neighbors. And we can expect to get a whole lot of abuse while we do these things. Some of us will lose a great deal in the process. Some of us will die.
I sat on the couch, ashamed of my comfort. Agitated by urges to drive to the border and get in a cage. Unwillingly complacent. Lost.
“Stop it,” God said, reading my mind as usual. “You aren’t lost. Just a little frozen.”
“Fine, then. Thaw me out,” I said. I may have even crossed my arms in a kind of angsty defiance.
“Blow torch or balmy breeze?” God asked, smirking a little.
There are no words to describe the sound I made. I lost it. I lunged at God, hoping to land a sucker punch. “YOU’RE IMPOSSIBLE,” I yelled as I flailed and howled.
“That’s it, baby,” God said. “That’s the spirit. Take it and run. No gesture is wasted. Do what you can. Go where you must. I’ll be there. And remember–that Jesus thing has a happy ending. Most likely, you will too.”
4 thoughts on “Babies in Cages”
Rita, I feel at a loss for words “frozen”, exhausted and enraged. Then you and your frenamy ripped something off. I haven’t cried for a long time. I called Mary, read to her (choking as I read) and wept more. So many children and families suffering! We need to cry and rage, think and act as loving human beings who all related. Thank you cousin
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Yes. Cry, rage, vote, travel, protest, beg, plead, write, pray (if we dare), and support those who can stand in solidarity and if necessary, get hurt alongside. We are, indeed, family.
Hi Rita— it took me a long time to test whether or not I would survive if I was honest with the Old Testament image of god— testy, murderous, racist, child killer, woman hater, inconsistent, addicted to power, unloving actually. Deep down I felt He was always on the edge of a nervous breakdown and had to be coddled, When the questions finally could not be held back, and I did ask, I did not die on the spot. God was more resilient than I thought. It took me living in hell till I was 63 to finally confront God soul to soul about “what’s the deal here?! We are Your CHILDREN! Why are we living like beggars?!!” I was angry and sad and no longer tried to deny it. It was then the answers came about how to get out of hell and it shocked me— not by self sacrifice, but self love! Not by denying my desires but by seeking out who God created me to be and PURSUING that person’s desires! It has taken me 3 1/2 years of learning how to live life God’s way —“except ye become as a little child you have no hope of heaven”. I learned how to be as honest as a child with God about all the feelings I ever suppressed. Only now am I able to start experiencing that true self God created rather than the damaged self I had created. Keep on being honest. We are closer to God then than when we are in our best Sunday dress facade self!
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Oh, so true. Thanks for commenting!!