I’ve been body-slamming God onto notebook pages a lot these days.
Rolling God up into a ball as if he were one of the Fat Little Stories doused in cinnamon before set onto a cookie sheet to flatten under the heat of editing, scrutinizing and redrafting.
I’ve been perplexing Him like a math problem, as if I were back in the skins of my 14-year-old self, my brain on tumble dry as I tried to understand how a series of numbers clustered on page would somehow equal 6. Six.
I ache to understand Him. I ache to be in a position where I would never think to abandon Him. Where, when Life gets crazy like the New England forecasts, I won’t think that I can go ahead and stand without Him.
I want no legs without Him. No thumbs, no knees, without Him, and yet I want to make sure I can trace Him-know Him-get Him in just the way Helen Keller pined to know the water in her well. The feel of water. The way it leaked through the cracks in her fingers.
She could not hear it rushing, could not see it running, but she ached to know it better than anything else. I want God in that Hellen Keller fashion.
Tomorrow I might board a southbound train, headed into New York City, and watch a businessman stroll in two stops after me and sit down beside me.
He might have a tousled grin and a set of blues that make my hands sweat. He might plug into the same Pandora station as me—lips mumbling lyrics to Dispatch and the Frey—and he might ask to see me beyond the Westport station that finds me at the door. We might unearth some kind of Happy & Ever & After tomorrow and I won’t ever think to understand it or try to figure it out. I would just trust it. When you believe in something, you trust.
So what I am really trying to say here is that I wouldn’t seek to figure out the odds and ends that brought a girl with black combat boots and grey ruffled knee socks to sit beside a boy with all her favorite slow dance songs in the palm of his hand but yet I am needing to figure out a God I’ve prayed to all my life, as if every other prayer hinged upon my knowing Him.
I’m thinking lately that God is like the night that held me when I was fifteen years old, a teenager at a time where Taylor Swift was just a little girl pushing cassette tapes in Nashville and had not yet begun singing her ballads to a generation of other girls like me.
Perhaps God is like the nights where August hissed her humidity into the ringlets of my hair and I sat beside best friends with a boom box between us, an extension cord snaking the patio and plugging us into Delilah and her Love Songs at Night.
Perhaps God is like the nights we listened, hummed loudly, sang boldly to all the songs that would one day find a heartbreak or the greatest love story of our lives to weave their wadded words within.
Perhaps God is like those nights, one after the other after the other, where we asked no questions—in fear that the perfection of it all might slip out from under us, that the glowing thing we couldn’t understand—the friendship of four girls, their boom box, and their love songs—was the very thing that kept us coming back & back again.
Perhaps God is the simplicity that waits quietly as the complexity tries to steal our attention and catch our hands for every dance of the night.
He is the one who stands by the punch bowl, hangs his head and hates to watch us standing in the middle of the floor, abandoned by the dates who brought us there. “You’re more beautiful than the corsage on your wrist and the puffs in your dress,” he says below his breath, though he knows we won’t think to hear him until we get too thirsty to go anywhere but the punchbowl.
Perhaps God is the exit 9 off of 91 Northbound.
He is three rights and a veer left at the fork in the road.
He is the lights turned on in the kitchen and the kettle steeping on the stove.
He is the coming home after we’ve been gone for so long.
He’s the home that needs no signs to tell us what we already know: Your shoes belong by the door, coat in the closet by the stairs, and you– You belong Here, don’t worry about another thing.