Once upon a time, God appeared in the living room and walked straight to the wood stove, extending his hands toward the fire. He seemed chilled and uptight. After a while, he gave me a half-eyed glance and in a choked voice said, “I sure hope I’m the kind of God you write about.” Mystified, I mustered a reassuring smile.
Another time, God blew through the top of the cottonwoods, a holy howling terror, uprooting trees. Powerlines sparked and whipped like snakes. She pounded her chest, lifted skirts, and inverted the umbrellas intended to thwart the rain. “You will not stay upright,” she shrieked across the expanse. “You will not stay dry and there’s nowhere to hide.”
God peeked down into my hiding place. “Sorry,” she said. “You can come out now.”
And then there was the time it drizzled miserably for days, and my sad friend told me she was dying, and the only God I could find was a four-legged critter that appeared to be a dog. God did some tricks, jumped on my friend’s lap, licked her face, and for a while, there was joy. Muted and resigned, but joy.
I slipped outside. Children were splashing in a threatening puddle. One of them kicked off bright yellow boots and squished black mud between her toes, barefoot and triumphant. I watched from the sidelines, silently cheering her on.
I’m remembering these times this morning as I sip a very stale beer—a gift from a stingy God who gives me leftovers–less than I think I deserve. But waste not, want not. And besides, what does deserve have to do with it? Is love earned or bestowed? Is it passed along or is each scrap absorbed into the black hole where nothing is ever enough and time itself has no meaning?
“Good morning,” God says, appearing beside me in stylish clothes. “Can I have a sip?”
“Sure,” I say. “It’s awful.”
God winks, tips the bottle back, swallows, and it’s gone. The beer is gone. The day is gone. Light is peeling off the walls, and I’m falling in.
“Help!” I yell to God as I dangle. The full weight of my body is too much.
God brings an umbrella and yellow boots, a dog, and a fresh beer. But I can’t accept any of it because I need both hands to hold onto the gravelly rim of my small reality.
“Let go,” God says.
“I can’t,” I yell back.
“Of course, you can,” God says, and kneels to loosens my fingers, one by one.