Missive from the Beautiful, Horrible Moment

Every morning I sit in the warm, chunky soup of God, my attention split between robins in the garden, clouds on the move, and my fingers poised above the keyboard. God appreciates the opportunity to clown around, but sometimes they take it too far, and I feel left out.

I want God to notice me. I eat dandelions. I pull clumps of quack grass, pretending there’s a chance to eradicate this long-rooted invader. Quack grass is also known as twitch, quick grass, quitch grass, scutch, dog grass and witchgrass. My own pet name for it is Satan. On more generous mornings, I allow for the possibility that it has redemptive features. Not today.

“How about we all float on our backs?” God suggests, flailing happily in the womblike liquid of themselves, ignoring boundaries such as time and space.

I shake my head. The steady pressure of God is eroding my body. The Ever-Presence is a weighted blanket, a hazmat suit, an open invitation to find peace in what is true. I am not a maker of stars, but I am my own tornado. While I’m still able, I will continue spinning through the garden, yanking quack grass to kingdom come.

All the faces of God smile. “Look!” they say. The arms of God bend, fingers pointing every possible direction. I have no idea where to look.

“You’re too inclusive. Too amped. Could we bring it down a notch?” I ask petulantly.

The many fists of God punch the air, and their faces melt like candles into a singular pool where I see my singular reflection and consider my singular fate. The robins appear to be flirting, ready to mate. The aroma of God is intoxicating, but even so, my stiff hands won’t curl around the quack grass anymore.

My friends and family are floating on nearby rivers, hiking their own circuitous trails, and I wish them well. I wish myself well. I wish God well—the Unitary, the Complex, the Galactic–all of them.

“Thank you,” they say harmonically.

“You’re welcome,” I say automatically.

“That’s unlikely,” they laugh. “Our welcome is usually, um, shall we say overstated?”

I nod. “Well, you’re more welcome than quack grass.”

They grin, poking each other in the side. “Score! We’re more welcome than quack grass.”

I realize God is making fun of me, so I issue a slight retraction. “Actually, that’s not entirely true. Depends on the day.”

Playing the Fool

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It’s been reported that God has a special fondness for fallen sparrows, fools, and small children which may be why he gets such a kick out of startling me. This morning, he arose in a ghostly puff of sawdust from the bottom of the woodpile and like a gleeful child, said “Boo.”

“NOT FUNNY,” I yelled, jumping back.

“Wrong. Very funny,” God replied, giggling. “You’re so easy to surprise. You forget where to look. You let your guard down. You have God cataracts. Gotta shake you up, wake you up, scare the dickens out of you.”

I sighed. “I’m not bringing you coffee until you settle down.”

“No need,” God said, quivering with energy. “Today, I am coffee. Black coffee and donuts. And firewood. I’m pure sugar, perfectly-aged bourbon, a romp in the hay. I’m a pulled tooth, the tooth fairy, the pillow and the sleeping child. I’m a hundred dollar bill flying by in the wind. You can catch me.”

“I don’t want to,” I said.

“That’s not the point,” God said. “What you want is not important. What you’ve been, what you will be, not important.”

Sometimes God acts like this—as if I’m not important—but I know I am. It’s a trick. “Define important,” I said, defiant and a little scornful.

God threw back his head, laughing. “Ha ha ha! Define important!” he wheezed. He slapped my back. “Good one.”

I tried to walk away, but he hopped in front of me on a pogo stick. “Look at me, look at me,” he shouted, filled with joy. I turned away. He turned with me. I back up. He backed up. The melting began—I cracked a small smile. What an idiot. Who can resist such a God?

“Walk like a turkey,” he said. “Or an Egyptian. Flap your arms. Eat bugs. Drink wine. Swivel your hips. Shake your bootie.” God was somehow doing all these things at once while I looked on, trying not to reward such goofiness. I shook a finger at him. “You’re a stubborn old coot,” I said. “Irresponsible, offensive, demanding, foolish…”

“Oh, you are so, so wrong,” God said. “I’m your youngest idea. Your most avid fan. Your faithful servant.” He paused. “Okay. Yeah. That demanding thing is true. I ask a lot of myself.”

My finger was still waggling at him, trying to induce shame, but he grabbed my hand, bowed low, and kissed my palm. “We are both of royal lineage,” he said. I pulled back, but he held on. “Not so fast!” He balanced himself on a large stump and proclaimed, “Poetry slam!” With a kind of gusto only God possesses, he read:

You cannot help but exist among us;
beer-drinkers, side-winders, men with big mouths;
wise-crackers, homemakers, coyotes, and cougars.
Miners, majors, midgets, and moles—
shame-laden fools and the overly proud.
Soul sisters, blood brothers, the quick and the dead.
All are long lost, and continually found.

With a flourish and bow, he shouted “Amen,” and began to fade. The kiss of God burned in the palm of my holy hand. I thought of applauding, but instead, I let the wonder dissipate and brought in a load of fragrant but imperfect wood.