Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A little known planet

In the year 2094, the Anglican evangelists reached a little known, but very cold, planet on the outer edge of the Milky Way. The people, commonly known as Heaters, had bodies much like ours, but instead of eyes they had heat sensors. This worked well for them. They had developed many of the same scientific instruments and conveyed data by both the written and spoken word. Their language was easy to learn even if their vocabulary was smaller than the English language.

Quickly, the Anglicans determined that this planet had never developed any gods, didn’t even have a concept of god. So that when the evangelists began to explain how God had made the world, the Heaters were puzzled, not understanding. And, when the Anglicans celebrated Holy Eucharist in their midst, they understood sharing bread and wine but not the symbolism of the Christ.

This was going to be a long term proselytizing trip; so the Anglicans settled in. They had to make the Heaters understand about God and creation and Christ and love.

When the Anglicans first arrived, one of their members began learning the Heater language and all its nuances. Then she began translating the Bible into Heater. After all, the Reformation and the Evangelization of Africa had proven that people understood and accepted Christ better if they could read the Bible in their own language.

Some metaphors used in the Bible just couldn’t be translated, and the linguist looked for local metaphors to replace them. The parable of the sheep and the goats, for instance, had a comparable situation with some of the local animals. The images of light and darkness translated easily into heat and cold.

But, still the Heaters just didn’t get it. They were friendly enough, and families got to know one another quite well. As they discussed love, the Anglicans noticed that the rooms got warmer.

Finally, the linguist understood. She proclaimed, “God is love.” Everyone took off their sweaters and the hosts opened windows. There was great rejoicing as both Anglicans and Heaters understood that God/Love is life.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Vodka, valium and dyslexia

We have a friend, Kirk (name changed), who spent many years drinking vodka and taking valium. Sober and clean now for more than 20 years, Kirk still has trouble with complicated thoughts. He loves to tell jokes, but any joke with more than two steps or inferences or any big words just don’t compute in his brain. Fortunately, many jokes fit in his repertoire and he keeps us laughing a lot.

He is also one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I have ever known. His feedback when you tell him your problems is always succinct and to the point. “Does it really make a difference right now? Enjoy your food.” “Well, you can’t change her, but you can change your attitude.” “Don’t let it get to you; that makes it worse.”

His hugs are wonderful, and to put your head on his shoulder is to feel completely safe. Did I mention that he’s also very good looking?

Of course, he will ask you the same question five or six times before he gets it just right in his head. And, he wants to make sure that he doesn’t offend you, his friend. He tolerates a lot before he will just slip out of your life…and he has tolerated a lot from some of his friends. If they ever straighten up, he’ll be the first one back in their lives.

He visited us in our “new” home for the first time this weekend, arriving yesterday afternoon and leaving around lunchtime today. As we were sitting together enjoying the warmth of friendship conversation and quiet, he said, “Let me tell you something about how my brain works. Yesterday when we got here and you showed me around, this house made no sense. The rooms all ran together and I couldn’t get an idea of where anything was located. Today, it’s just a normal house, and I know where everything is.”

What an insight! A different kind of dyslexia than I’ve known before. The brain seems not to connect one view with another, no panoramic concept, no floor plan. Just a jumble of rooms. Now I understand why he didn’t want to make this trip by himself. He was afraid that he couldn’t connect the pictures to get here or to get home. Too far and too unknown.

Routine is important to Kirk. Connecting with people for whom he cares is important. His grandchildren and children are important. And, we love him dearly.

We can have some conversations about complicated things like war and politics, but we don’t dig deep into the details. We talk about people and good and harm and pain and life. Kirk is hesitant to say anything bad about anyone, but he wants the best for everyone everywhere.

Kirk is our friend, and by his sharing how his brain was working, And, I can understand that the vodka and valium probably made a small problem with dyslexia much worse. Now, I know how to have better conversations with him, how to be a better friend. And, I’m grateful to him. He’s listened to me often enough without judgment and often with no comment but a hug. He’s been on my gratitude and prayer list for a long time.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Questions about God

Recently two people have asked me questions about my beliefs about God. One was asking by phone and one at the dinner table in a crowded restaurant. Each question and hesitant answer brought on another question and even more hesitant answer. My partner began inserting her beliefs and I had a moment to reflect before answering the next spate of questions.

I am struggling with my answers about God. Oh, hell, I’m struggling with my questions about God. Some days I don’t even know where I doubt or why I question, only that I do. Like anger, doubt is probably a cover for fear or pain. And, I certainly have my full share of doubt and anger, and fear and pain lately. I also have the huge sense that I am not in control of my life, and I seriously fear that God is not in control either. Though I believe firmly that God is with me; I want to know who is running the show and what act we’re in. Will the entrance cue be properly given? Will the props be in place? Is my costume okay? Will we all remember our lines?

No, no, that’s not it. There are no lines. The props are whatever you find. No one knows when the entrance cue is – only trust that you will recognize it. No director has put us through our paces. No one is in the light booth and the sound may or may not work.

This is a metaphor for the sense of being lost that I have. My medical condition leaves me wondering each day if I will be able to do anything or if I will not. And, no doctor can answer why I am not getting better. On doctor days, I seem to breathe okay and, although I tire easily, they cannot know (and I sometimes forget to tell)of the nights when I cough until I feel as though I will never breathe again. The inhalers consumed, the steam sucked in, the tea drunk, the antihistamine taken – finally being able to breathe again. It’s very scary.

And, I panic. So, what do I know about God right now. I know I’d be truly over the edge if I didn’t believe that God was with me – knowing my hurt, knowing my panic. But, do I believe that God could or would intervene? I don’t know. I pray. I believe that praying has some power somehow even if only to clear my mind.

Do I believe in the bodily resurrection? Well, sure, that’s what I confess in every church service in the Creeds. But, how can I know, and I’m not really very concerned with what happens after I die, but whether or not I’m going to breathe okay today. If I have to come back in this body, well, thank you, I’d rather not. Give me a different set of problems, please.

So, what is the purpose of Jesus? Naw, I was asked, “Do you believe in Jesus?” Yes, very definitively yes. I believe that Jesus was God become human who wanted to know what it was like to be this thinking creation with free will and why making good decisions was so difficult. I believe that the Incarnation of God is the most important piece of salvation. God proved to us humans that we are loved and cherished. God proved to us that we could have a relationship with the divine being – the Other – the uncreated beginning.

That’s why I think that God is with me, and that’s how I get through each day.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Refrain and Refraining

At the Carnival of Lent, begun by Episcosours, and continued this week at Word of Mike the topic this week is Refraining. Last week was Repentance and I couldn’t even begin to deal with the repentance in my life and what repentance means. But, Refraining stretches me to consider why I refrain – why I refrain from doing something – why I have a chorus that repeats itself throughout my life.

I refrain from using cuss words in front of people that I think might be offended. This is respecting the dignity of other humans. I have cussed most of my life – growing up with a sailor father and finding so much gratification in the vehement propulsion of some of these words. Sometimes, however, I don’t think about what I’m going to say – mostly in times of anger – and I just burst out with this stream of profanities and blasphemies. I remember being angry at a parishioner once and stumbling into the rector’s office after a brief meeting with this person. I shoved open the door and out burst this long (for me) string of words that emptied the office faster than a fire alarm. I think I have a little better control now some ten years later. I hold it in until the place and people are more appropriate and by then the urge is often gone.

I refrain from claiming that I am not a bigot. I am in so many ways that I can’t even begin to touch them all. I grew up in the segregated south and was not allowed to associate with black people. I grew up with a slightly snobbish mother who refused to let me play with poor white trash. I grew up with a drunken father who turned me against all drunks (including myself for a time). I grew up ostracized by the Presbyterians (because Dad was a drunk) and the Southern Baptists (because I danced), and I am all for inclusion except for the Presbyterians (well the PCA anyway) and the Southern Baptists. I wouldn’t even hold my mother’s funeral inside the church that turned me away; we had a graveside service in the cemetery just outside. I don’t consciously discriminate against any of the people about whom I am prejudiced; I just do it in ways that I don’t recognize until later. Most of my prejudices are due to my own fears, many from childhood. No excuses, though.

I refrain from blaming others for my feelings. Well, I try. That only creates more prejudice and more hurt.

But, the most important refrain in my life is one that my Mother installed in my life. It’s the chorus to every verse, and it’s what holds my life together. I’ve written about this before – the songs that she played on the piano while we sang our worship of God at home. “And, he walks with me and he talks with me.” “Love lifted me, when nothing else could help, love lifted me.” “out on the glad hills of God’s glory, moving in rapturous throng, the saints are rehearsing their story, singing a wonderful song.” The chorus of Immanuel, God with us, a personal God who cares about me and you and you and you (and even those people mentioned above), God is love, We are one with the saints and with God.

If I’m to get through saying the Litany of Penitence every night of Lent, then I need this chorus to remind me that refraining from hurting others and repenting of the times that I do are offset by God’s grace and glory that I will know more fully at Easter.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Who is unacceptable?

When I heard that our Presiding Bishop had signed the Communiqué from the Primates Meeting (albeit with tears in her eyes), I thought that she was probably just assenting to what had occurred at the meeting and acknowledging that the Communiqué reflected the majority of the primates. I was waiting for her reflection when she was home and rested, certain that she would affirm our inclusiveness in the Episcopal Church for all of God’s people.

But, I was wrong. She has proposed that adherence to the recommendations and timeline of the Communiqué is a period of fasting for us. “What is being asked of both parties is a season of fasting - from authorizing rites for blessing same-sex unions and consecrating bishops in such unions on the one hand, and from transgressing traditional diocesan boundaries on the other,” she writes here.

Lastly in her reflection she says, “Justice, (steadfast) love, and mercy always go together in our biblical tradition. None is complete without the others. While those who seek full inclusion for gay and lesbian Christians, and the equal valuing of their gifts for ministry, do so out of an undeniable passion for justice, others seek a fidelity to the tradition that cannot understand or countenance the violation of what that tradition says about sexual ethics. Each is being asked to forbear for a season. The word of hope is that in God all things are possible, and that fasting is not a permanent condition of a Christian people, nor a normative one. God's dream is of all people gathered at a feast, and we enter Lent looking toward that Easter feast and the new life that will, in God's good time, be proclaimed.”

How long will we wait for God’s good time? How many gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered people will be turned away from a valuable ministry in proclaiming the good news? How many couples will not receive the blessing and support of their community? How many children will grow up knowing that their parents are so different that part of the world would kill them? Too many parents are being killed in the world for too many reasons, and none of them valid.

Our PB Katharine says that others will not transgress traditional diocesan boundaries. Yet the Communiqué itself says they will continue to do so. Read it here. Despite protests from PB Katharine, they say they will continue to raid our churches and dioceses. They will continue to claim use of property that belongs to the whole of the Episcopal Church.

And, we are to cease pursuing legal means of protecting the property of the Church! Where will those who dissent from the dissenters worship? Where will the women who feel called to ministry and the GLBT community find a place to worship? Where will those who support them go? Sharing and accommodating the separation of churches is a beautiful idea, but I’m not sure that our dissenters are looking in that direction.

I am hurt; I am afraid; I disillusioned that one more time the desire to be one of the crowd (the Anglican Communion), to be one in God has triumphed over justice and love. Unity is a thing much to be desired, but when two disagree over the basics of unity, then there is no unity, only the facsimile of it. Separation and divorce are the humane way to go when counseling has failed. And, we’ve been at this counseling (read listening) stage for too many years.

And, as I said at Grandmere Mimi’s blog, who will be next? The disabled or the differently abled? Will they be prohibited from being lector or lay eucharistic minister because they are not perfect, not sinless? Where do we stop inviting those to the table who have something to gain? When do we invite those from the streets to the feast? During Lent, we may fast, but we must feast at Easter!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

My God

Who is this God that is always with me? Each person has a different interpretation of God despite the attempts of church councils to define God and Christ. Those creations, like the anticipated Anglican Communion Covenant, are limited by the perspectives of those who write them. No creed or covenant or catechism can define exactly who the “other” is for every person.

And, I seriously doubt that anyone can put a final definition on the God to whom he/she prays. But, in order to communicate with this divine being, I need to have some concept of what God is like and what God likes. So here goes my conceptual thinking about, to use a 12-step term, the God of my understanding.

First, my God is Creator, the primal cause of being. Without God nothing would exist. God caused everything to be…and continues to cause everything to be – both good and evil because God gave humans the ability to co-create. I don’t know what was outside the Garden of Eden, but God sent humans from that place of perfection to create a world and a people. God gave the man and woman the ability to create life from within themselves.

Second, my God wants a relationship with creation; I’m part of creation; so I believe that God wants a relationship with me. Relationships are based on being with one another, getting to know one another, and continuing to be in contact, intimate contact. I won’t pretend that I know God’s innermost being because I think that is unknowable by me. But, I think that God knows my innermost being, not only because I talk about it in prayer (a good word for communication with God), but also because God has been human. I believe that God became human in the form of Jesus, whom we call the Christ, in order to know more about this creation that was “other” to God, that was not divine, that had freewill and could make bad decisions.

Third, God’s time and being are beyond my comprehension. God is “other”, not human. Yet, God created humanity in the divine likeness. (Or maybe we created God in the human likeness then said, “Well, that can’t be all there is to God or God would be just another powerful human.”) But, if I am like God in some ways, then God must be like me in some ways. So, I give God credit for being everything that humanity is and more. God can change the divine will, can reinterpret (like a good therapist) what is happening on earth. But, I cannot know exactly what God is like or how God will change or even what God’s time is like. I do know that hours, minutes, days, years, are constructs of humanity; God didn’t dream up time as we know it. We did that to give some order to our being.

Fourth, God is probably good. I say probably because I’m not sure of the origin of evil. If God created everything, then, did God also create evil? Or was evil just an outcome of giving an imperfect being the ability to choose, the right to make decisions? Did humanity make just enough mistakes that the divine good was skewed into evil? I don’t know, but I like to think that God is good. Jesus certainly preached a good God, and I recognize that the “blazing guns” god of the Hebrew Scriptures was humanity’s attempt to explain what was happening in their lives. Maybe the “good God” is our hope for what could be happening in our lives, and evil is what does happen when we aren’t perfect.

Fifth, I believe that God wants us to be the best we can possibly be. And, I believe that, if I have a relationship with God, that my mistakes can be turned to good. I’m not sure exactly how God does this, but, then, I’m not sure how God does a lot of stuff.

Sixth, I believe that God does intervene in the world. I certainly don’t understand how God does this, but perhaps enough of God exists in each of us that we provide that intervention for others (and for ourselves). Compassion, love, understanding, listening, hugging, giving time and money, generosity of spirit – all these are ways that God intervenes in the world. I’m sure others exist, but I don’t understand them.

Seventh, I don’t much believe in heaven or hell. I don’t know what will happen when I die. We are told that when God raised Jesus from the dead that death was conquered. But, whatever that means, I don’t know. I do know that I can create my own hell right here without much help from anyone else. Mean bosses, crazy people, aging, accidents, natural disasters, my own dumb mistakes – all these contribute to a hell in which I live daily. But, I also believe that I live in heaven daily – through the love that I give and receive, the wonders of this earth, the relationships with people, the beauty that I can help create. Life is enough for me; I’ll let God worry about what might happen later.

And, I believe that I have four purposes in being; to love God, to co-create good in this world, to love my neighbor, and to have a good time. God didn’t mean this life to be dreary, and I can choose to love life or to hate living. Like Aaron, “As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord.”

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Balanced Coverage

An excellent article about All Saints' Episcopal Church in Attleboro and its split into two congregations is posted on Episcope. This is balanced coverage, and I appreciate the way this has been handled by this newspaper and by this diocese. I realize the strife is not over even there, but this is moving on toward doing the work of God in that place.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Rule of Four

Thanks again to Episcosours for this meme!
The Rule of Four
Four books I read over and over:

1.A Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle
2.Christpower by Spong
3.A Dream of Kinship by R. Cowper (series)
4.Bible (latest version is The Message)
Four jobs I have had in my life:
1.Assistant Director of Public Relations
2.Darkroom technician for a printing company
3.Executive Director of an ecumenical social service agency
4.Pulling staples from records to be micro-fiched (got fired from this)
Four movies I would (and do) watch over and over:
1.The Dark Crystal
2.To Kill a Mockingbird
4.Good Morning Vietnam
Four places I have lived:
1.Marks, MS
2.Phoenix, AZ
3.New Haven, CT
Four TV shows you love to watch:
1.Don’t watch television though I did watch MASH and The Vicar of Dibley
Four places you have been on vacation:
1.Tikal, Guatemala
2.Stowe, Vermont (in the summer)
3.Newfoundland (in the winter)
Websites you visit daily:
1.Of Course, I Could Be Wrong
3.The Wounded Bird
4.Child of Illusion
Four of my favorite foods:
1.Fried catfish.
3.Pasta of almost any kind.
4.Southern veggies and cornbread.
Four places I would rather be:
There are places I would like to visit, but I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere else.
Four friends I think will respond:
Whoever chooses

Affordable Housing

My little town is approaching a big anniversary of its founding, and the government and other groups are planning lots of “improvements” to benefit the tourists who will visit us during the anniversary year. While I’m sure that these improvements will continue to benefit the tourism trade, something my partner said struck home. What if we used that money to make our town the first town with truly affordable housing?

One of the projects for the anniversary is building a walkway along the waterfront from the Sheraton Hotel to a city park – about a mile of walkway that will run for some length past the projects, as in past housing built many years ago for poor black people and not kept up but still occupied by those who cannot afford safe and decent housing. It’s a run down cluster of two story dwellings where elderly people and single mothers and teenage girls who are pregnant but kicked out of their homes and drug addicts live in chaotic mess and constant noise. And, I understand they plan to tear this particular “project” down.

Where will these people go? Are we planning new housing for the elderly and families? Are we kicking the drug addicts out on the street, where they will cause more problems? Who is an advocate for the residents of this place? I’ve seen other places here where undoubtedly the bathtubs are falling through the floors and roaches scramble over the floors. What will we do when visitors ask (although they won’t): Where do your poor people live? How great is the divide between the haves and have nots?

There’s money in this town; it’s a favorite place for retirees (and I’m a retiree, too). New development housing begins at $180,000 for condos. I tried to hire a landscaper to do some work at our place and was told that the earliest they might get to me would be June – six months away at the time. And, there was no assurance they would take the job even then. So, there’s money, and it’s being spent on expensive homes and landscaping. It’s being spent on scenic walkways.

Where do battered women go when their time is up in the shelter? No decent homes can be found to rent for less than $800 a month – and that’s only if you catch it in the wintertime. I have no idea about trying to rent a house in the summer. Most families receiving government assistance or disability can’t afford that house even with help from Section 8. Apartment complexes are for the upper middle class. I drove around town looking for decent apartments that might be affordable – not to be found.

I’m really not putting down the effort to spruce up the town for its anniversary, but, wouldn’t it be nice if we put equally as much effort into creating affordable, decent housing for our citizens?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

My friend MA

Hey folks, check out the story about my friend and Yale classmate Maryalice Sullivan. She's been a spiritual inspiration to me since 1989. Wish she had time to do a blog, but she's always busy with people. Imagine that!

More about Hell

On a more serious note about Hell. I don’t believe in a Hell in the afterlife (given, of course, that there is an afterlife). I believe we live in Hell on a daily basis, the punishment of our negativity and drawing away from the goodness of God and creation.

Hell is recognizing that I’ve hurt someone in my past and being unable to find that person to ask forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is all well and good and should be enough, but I crave that sense of remission that comes from another saying, “You are forgiven.” That is Hell.

Hell is knowing that your excess weight is contributing to your poor health, cutting back on portions, eating healthier, and then getting upset and eating too much and too much of the wrong things for a number of days. I put my life in jeopardy, and I know it. That’s Hell.

Hell is remembering how your treated your Mother, albeit that you had no role models for being a daughter or role models for treating your Mother well. She’s dead, you’re still thankful she’s gone, and you know you should repent, and you live not only with the guilt of how you acted but with the guilt of loving her but being glad she’s dead. That’s Hell.

Hell is almost always a backward look at actions, thoughts, modes of behavior. Hell brings grief and sometimes disbelief that you could have acted that way. When properly applied, Hell brings relief, forgiveness from God and self, and resolve to act differently.

My Hell is not your Hell. Each of us lives with our own misdeeds and sins. With God there is mercy – hesed – loving kindness!

Friday, February 02, 2007

What Level of Hell

Following a link on Episcosours, I found that I have been banished to the Third Level of Hell, and unlike Pisco, my purgatory score was very low - I'll be there a while.

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Third Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Test

Thursday, February 01, 2007

God with us, Immanuel

“On the wings of snow white dove, He sends His pure, sweet love,
A sign from above, on the wings of a dove.”

Tonight we sang that as a joking comment to end a conversation that wasn’t about God at all, but about white things. This old-fashioned gospel song was one that my Mom loved to sing and one that I heard from my brother and his Pentecostal friend as they practiced for the singing service at his friend’s church.

Romanticism is the basis of this song, and I don’t remember the rest of the words. But, my Mom was a romantic. She never loved anyone but my father even though she tested and tried him in ways that would have driven Job crazy. His love was constant throughout the years even though not faithful. She was the only woman he wanted in marriage, and he was the only man who ever held her heart.

Mom was romantic about God, too. She wanted a close-up and personal relationship with God, believing that God was with us every minute in everything we did. So, we sang about God and all the romantic images of the old gospel/church songs. “Let the lower lights be burning”, “Out on the glad hills of God’s glory, moving in rapturous throng, the saints are rehearsing their story, singing a wonderful song” – and you’re gonna like this part – “Peace is the dream, glory’s the theme….” “And he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own….”

I grew up believing that, even though bad things were happening to our family, God was still with us, helping us survive and be as good as we could be. The Devil never entered into the equation. I don’t know where Mom thought evil originated, but, for her, evil was already undone in the goodness of being with God. We prayed in song, we prayed in silence, we prayed in short blurbs as things happened, but we KNEW that God was with us. Incarnated, suffering our human problems with us.

Though I ask biting questions, extend this God-thing to fit all kinds of cultures and countries, use satire in talking about some of the stories in the Bible that make little sense in the factual details – though I make fun of religion, I do believe that God is right here with me, laughing, saying, “Ooooh, that was badddd.” Or “Great questions, now find the answers.” I think God is with me everyday, every minute of my life.

Sometimes I forget that I believe this. Sometimes I forget that I believe there is a God or that God cares about me. But most of the time I believe in this God that I question, and most of the time I believe that God loves me and wants a relationship with me. I guess that makes me a romantic, too.

Knowing God

Can we know God? Living in the deep South, many people are convinced that they know God, while the Presbyterians say that only God knows if you really know God or not. You won’t know whether or not you are “saved” until judgment day. Others have been “born again” or “baptized in the spirit” or whatever seems to be their expression of the feeling that God has broken through the “otherness” and touched their lives.

I’m seldom sure if I am communicating with God, talking to myself, or listening to the ether. Most times when I’m listening, the sound is static buzz of the universe. However, sometimes, I feel that God has communicated with me.

Some background: I have lots of opinions about almost everything; some are conflicting; some are in quasi agreement; some are lost in space. So, when I have a problem or concern and I don’t know what to do, I seek a quiet spot and gather all these opinions as if they were persons sitting around a table discussing the situation. Of course, this requires a lot of suspension of disbelief or else I need to be treated for multiple personalities.

So, there I sit at the table with my own opinions; a lull in the conversation is sometimes filled with the voice of the “other”. A consideration that was not part of my opinion, a possibility that was outside my realm of experience, a solution that is very different from the direction in which I was going – this comes in the lull, in the quiet of conversation with myself. Now some will say that this is just the result of letting my subconscious participate, a natural event of reason; I say it is God.

Perhaps this voice of the “other” comes from that place within me where I have made a home for God, and, so, it truly does come from me – from the God within me. But, it’s an alien piece of the puzzle; it’s the myth to which life is true; it’s the Spirit moving in miraculous ways within my own being.

I also hear God in inspirational metaphors that come to me while staring at the water or deep in centering prayer. As I let the thoughts flow through me, one will snag on a barb of my anxiety and provide a comfort or a solution. Those, to me, are God-thoughts.

Sometimes when I hurt and I clutch my pillow to my chest, I feel a hand on my shoulder or just below the nape of my neck – long before my partner reaches out to do the same. Was God’s hand drawing her near to be the physical touch of God?

While I try sometimes to put words to this God whom I trust and cherish, my descriptions will never be complete, and maybe not even a tiny bit accurate. Because God is “other”, I can only imagine that what I feel that is extraordinarily good is God. Yet, sometimes, I am certain that the nudge I get to change directions is equally God. No, I don’t believe God punishes me; I can do that quite sufficiently. And, is this heresy? Possibly. Perhaps I’ve just spent too much time alone in my head, which is not always a safe place to be.