For the past 45 minutes, God’s been following me around while I fuss and mutter my way through the large piles of rocks in our house. It’s time to clean and sort. Smooth, thin, striped, white, broken, odd-shaped, heavy, pointed, round, speckled, flat, agate, sandstone, granite, petrified wood. I’m blessed with an inexhaustible supply of rocks. It’s awful. Blessings always come with a dark side. In this case, I have to sort and judge my rocks. Which stay? Which go? Sheep or goat? Precious or plebeian? In or out? Evil or good? Worthy or worthless?
I’ve been lazily indiscriminate about rocks, but there are limits. Life demands at least some discernment, and as we all know, discernment easily slides to judgment. Humans have many sayings about this.
- One person’s treasure is another person’s junk.
- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. …And of course, there’s this one:
- Do not judge, or you too will be judged. In the same way you judge others, you will be judged.
I hold an amber crystal and a friendly river rock in my hand, overcome with doubt. What makes anything or anyone precious? What makes anyone or anything worthless? Who or what belongs anywhere?
God sighs. His jazz band materializes and sets up in the kitchen. God positions himself on a stool, and in his sultry, seductive voice, begins singing that old Louis Jordan classic: Is you is or is you ain’t my baby? He sips bourbon. I’m afraid he’s planning to light up a cigarette. Clearly, he’s in one of his sarcastic moods. I briefly consider throwing the bum out.
The mood fades. The band packs up, leaving the kitchen littered with peanut shells and shot glasses stained with oily lipstick. God lingers and watches me clean. He’s smiling. Humming. Waiting. I’m a little put out, but God has cleaned up after me more times than I can count. And he’s always done a stellar job.
He’s unpredictable, unruly, unjudgable, stereotype-proof—but whatever God does, he does well. I know because I have a memory of perfection. An infinitesimal fraction of me was present when God and his jazz band crooned the Universe into being; when stars burst out of their atomic skins, when the planet I call home began to cool. In fact, we were all there—which puts us in the same boat—which makes judgment futile.
I wash the last glass; God sweeps the floor and opens the north facing window to a blast of late-November air. I endure the chill while I search through the rocks. I’m on a mission.
God laughs. “I don’t need a rock,” he says, accurately reading my mind.
“I know,” I say. “But I’d like to give you something anyway.” I feel nearly desperate to find the perfect rock.
“Okay, baby,” God says. He holds out his hand.