Dear God

[This is inspired by and modeled after a “psalm” by Benjamín González Buelta, SJ, translated by Damian A. Howard, SJ.]

Dear God,

Here are my beliefs:

Not that I must seek You
but that You pursue each of us.

Not that I must call You by the right name
but that You call us each by our name.

Not that I must know prayers and hymns to You
but that You groan with each of us when we suffer.

Not that I must bring others to my faith in You
but that You come to each of us where we are.

Not that I must pretend to know You completely
but that You know the deep mystery of each of us completely.

Not that I must strive to love You
but that I can rest secure in Your love for each of us.

Not that I must kneel in church to worship You
but that I get to work in service to those You love.

Not that I should shout of my faith
but that I can whisper of my service.

Thankfully yours,

Sometimes God Hides

God hides
Especially in church

Behind doctrine
Behind liturgy
Behind men in fancy dress

Behind exclusions
Behind prejudices
Behind privileges unrecognized

That’s when I focus

On the hair of people
Seated around me

Of all colors
Thick and thin
Short and long
Combed and uncombed
Curly and straight

And on the shoes of people
Walking up to Communion

Of all styles
Heels and flip-flops
Sneakers and Oxfords
Sandals and boots
Old and new

And on the voices of people
Lifted in song and prayer

Of all timbres
Soft and loud
Strong and quavering
American and foreign
Melodic and grating

And God finds me.

Reality Recedes

We left our reality
one July Sunday
at dusk
in the van,
our new reality.

Behind the rear door,
our new kitchen
with ice chest, propane stove,
plastic drawers
for food, cooking utensils,
eating and cleaning necessities.

In the middle,
the spare tire, the toolkit,
a plastic container —
our new reality’s bathroom cabinet —
and above those, the clothes rack
with all of this reality’s hanging clothes.

Behind the front seats,
one suitcase each,
and in-between, a bag of snacks,
a small box of books and maps:
this reality’s storage room.

In this
our new reality,
the front seats are our living room,
with electronic cords, spare change,
a pocket knife and tissues
on the console between us
and the windshield, our picture window.

We ride through the space
of other people’s realities:
fields of wheat and corn,
ranges of cows and sheep,
oil wells and windmills,
great lakes and miles of marsh grass.

We ride through the time
of other ages’ realities:
ice age glaciers,
dinosaur bones,
river canyons,
sand blast hoodoos.

We ride through the earth
of other species’ realities:
lumbering bear,
floating otter,
mountain climbing sheep,
improbable puffins,
lonely bison.

We return, but not really.
Really, we realize,
our once comfortable reality
receded as we traveled.

Now, gods unto ourselves,
we unpack and begin
to recreate our own reality.

Do You Hear

The whistle of the wind through trees
like your father’s bedtime whisper

The crackle of dry leaves under your feet
like your cracker crumbling in your fist

The grumble of cars on the street
like the dog when you pull her ears

The plop of my shoes on the pavement
like the drop of your teddy on the floor

The smack of the stone on the water
like the splash of your hand in the bath

The tickle of the grass on your stomach
like the whisper of your granddad’s beard

The light of the sun in your eyes
like the bright of your mother’s love