When God Is Old


God was so old today, I hardly recognized him. Not a vision of loveliness, by any stretch. But should God be lovely? Youthful? Sexy? Yes, in my opinion, that would be nicer. But I didn’t turn away. I gazed on the decrepit body, looked into eyes filmy with cataracts. Tolerated the musty odor. Sank my teeth into the putrid truth of decline, flesh draped loosely on frail bones, a framework coming apart.

“What’re you up to?” I asked with false cheeriness, hoping for a rapid transformation. God can do that—one thing one moment, another the next. In the blink of an eye, God can go from bird to mosquito, river to refugee, pauper to king. But the only blink today was a slow one, as God’s focus landed laboriously on me.

“Hi, stranger,” he said, with a wry smile. That was all it took to transform my feeble friendliness into open hostility. This passive-aggressive, accusatory, guilt-inducing shriveled up mockery of life, insinuating I hadn’t been visiting him enough? Acting as though we’re such good friends, like I should visit every day, like I should move in, like I owed him something? I sat silent, but I fumed inside. How dare he try to prevail on my time? I have a life, you know. Why is he old like this?

But with God, if you think it, you may as well say it. His head dropped to his chest, clearly hurt, maybe even afraid. “Sorry,” he said, drawing into himself even further.

I was stricken and ashamed. God weathers all sorts of rejections, but mine seemed to cause him real pain. “No, I’m sorry,” I said, and I meant it. I calmed myself and waited for him to lift his head again. I showed him pictures of the grandchildren and garden. I gave him three small beets, an onion, and a large bouquet of deep green parsley. I reached over and patted his translucent hand. “When will this be over?” I asked, with the little patience I could muster.

He didn’t respond, but I knew the answer. Always. Never. God is a transitional verb, unconstrained. God is a hall of mirrors, a blaze of glory on a far horizon. A voluptuous virgin, a greasy-haired teen. But today and forever, God is an old, old man. None of this is acceptable to my primitive mind. My digital watch constantly flashes an ever-changing hour, but the knobby joints in my fingers still bend. God and I hold hands. He eventually nods off and I am free to go. I step into the slipstream of an apparent day, trying to accept the transitory nature of all things real.


6 thoughts on “When God Is Old

  1. Hi Rita

    My name is Mick Whiteaker. My wife is Julie Davis Whiteaker. She went to High School with John.

    She has been reading me your thoughts on God, aging and life for some time. I decided to go straight to the source and have just started receiving your emails and for that, thank you very much.
    I have been touched by every one of them, in at least, some small way. Sometimes the impact is even more significant.

    I don’t go to church but I do believe in God. I love how you describe your relationship and contacts with Him and/or Her. Your beautiful writing always brings a tear, often accompanied with a smile. Those moments often come at unpredictable times, like giving God “three small beets, an onion, and a large bouquet of deep green parsley”. Why was I touched? I’m not sure, but I was. Thank you for that.

    I am confused by one thing. Why isn’t everyone reading your thoughts? How come you’re not on TV talk shows or doing one woman shows on stage. Oh well, I see that as their loss. Julie and I love your letters and are eagerly looking forward to the recap of your next visit with God.

    Julie says, “Hi” to John. If you guys are ever back in Vancouver, I know she love to see him and we would both love to meet you.

    Your friends, admirers and fans,
    Mick and Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Mick. What an awesome message to get–it helps more than you could ever know, since I just sort of float things out there to a vast universe and wonder where the dust settles…And yes, so far, my darn co-author has not made us go viral, but one never knows :). Hi back to Julie! Your friend and conduit, Rita


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