A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Hold up your hands before your eyes. You are looking at the hands of God.
~ Lawrence Kushner
God was driving behind me on Route 9 just now. Apparently, God drives a beat-up old Buick. It was probably red once, but now it is so rusted and worn that it’s more of a muted color, like an apple that didn’t get picked. He was small in stature; in my rear-view I could see that his head barely cleared the steering wheel, and he had white hair everywhere but not the kind from old al fresco Italian paintings, nothing that imposing or coiffed. No, his was wilder – tufts of white like a halo around his head, a scrappy beard, and surely bits from his ears though truth be told I couldn’t get that good of a look because the light turned green. God looked like he was talking to himself, or maybe he had an angel in the passenger seat and they were consulting about something. Or maybe he was just muttering. Where Route 116 intersects with 9, a tall male-presenting person wearing pink high-tops was maneuvering across the median, and I wondered if God cringed a little the way I did just then, wondering whether this person was in trouble. I glanced back just in time to see the Buick turn, heading north on Maple Street while I continued straight. I thought back on moments like my children’s births and wondered how many times I stood in line at the grocery store behind God, how many times I bumped into God on the subway, how many times God sped past me on the way to somewhere important, how many times I missed God’s appearance, and made a mental note to write this one down so that I would remember. Later, I put on a mask and rolled down my window to hand a man a dollar bill. His sign said, “thank you” just like that, in quotation marks, all lowercase. The dollar was the only cash I had in the leather wallet my wife gave me for our sixth anniversary. The man and I made eye contact and he thanked me and I wished him well and he wished me well and I thought, well, Gee. If only it could be that easy. But God did not give us easy. God gave us paradox and contradiction, pain and friction, clashing contrasts, hearts that bleed love and bodies that lust and minds that connive and finagle and scheme, God gave us the ability to perceive and name beauty and also the powers of denial and survival at all costs. Many wires got crossed, no doubt, between God’s original conception of us and how things turned out, and the impulse to say sorry to God occurs to me but I decide it’s better to pet my dog and admire the colors of the oak tree in October and remind my friends who haven’t voted yet to do so even if the polls are looking encouraging. God wouldn’t want us to rest on any laurels. God must be so tired. I hope God is taking a nap. I might be projecting a little. Do you think God projects, too? If we are created in God’s image, does that mean God also looks like us and struggles with the same base instincts and petty grievances? Does God ever wish for a better house or newer appliances? God just wants to find a spot to rest for the night, all this traveling can get an old guy down. God pulls into a run-down motel and pays in cash. God wears a mask and walks slowly down the hallway and the one light bulb is flickering as he turns the key in the door. God snores and I can hear the snoring through the walls of my dreams. God is good most of the time but gets cranky if the coffee is cold. God is not perfect, but we love him anyway.
Copyright 2020 Jena Schwartz