Month: August 2016

God-Lady: On Not Bothering Jesus So Much.

I think God held my head in Custer, South Dakota last week.  This was after the week before when she got me from limping to walking straight and steady.   It seems likely to be God because of the healing-the-lame business.  But then I got to thinking more and trying to put my God thoughts in their right places with gender and love and certification, and it came out a little more jumbled than I meant it, and then the thought was too hard to hold on to, so I’ve settled on this: whether or not she disappears or doesn’t disappear when I leave her Occupational Therapy office, God held my head last week in Custer, South Dakota.  And I cried.  And I am suspicious that Jesus might have gone to the same training as my God-Lady, because how else was he making the people walk again in all his funny stories?

It went like this: I had to go back to my massage therapist Lady.  It was on account of the beautiful things there are in South Dakota to see, with its Black Hills and swooping ospreys and baby bunnies that my little bum foot that was healed and may have asked for a little rest did not get what it asked for.  So I took my little bum foot back to my Lady who had worked wonders the first time, just a week ago.  I was sorry to not take care of the gift she (and a couple of Anonymous-You-Know-Who-You-Are’s) gave me to have my walking back.

This is where I am suspicious of my new Lady being God.  She wasn’t mad.  She said I was so smart to come back.

And then, she asked me questions and when I told her about all the hiking, she did not say “You were so bad to use it so much!  This healing I gave you!”  She said, “That sounds so beautiful.  Aren’t these hills wonderful places for adventure?”

I told her all about my secret sleeping and swimming spots.  She said, “I know these places.”

I told her I was stung by a wasp just that morning.  She said, “I have some menthol around here, let me put it there.  Now, isn’t that better?  The sting will still sting for a bit, but you won’t know, for now.”

She said, “You are doing much better.”

She said, “Your pain is special, but you aren’t alone.”

I said, “Thank you.”  And then, when she was helping me with my neck and had to hold my head, I resisted.  I held up my head and she waited.  And she waited until I finally gave in to her hands and she said,

“There we go.  You see, I didn’t need you to hold yourself up.  I know you were only trying to help, but I am strong enough to hold you.”

And that is when I cried.  And she was quiet until she said, “Now where are you heading from here?”


“It’s just that I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing when everyone else is prayer warrior-ing,” I told my Someone.  I was complaining again.  Social media told me that a person needed help.  They were calling all hands to deck to pray.  I don’t know how to be a Prayer Warrior.  I am not the person anyone thinks of as their Praying Friend.  And I was agitated.

“Maybe you could just think some nice thoughts?” my Someone suggested.

“But that’s not what they’re asking for,” I said.

“Well, what do you want to do?” he asked.

It goes like this: I am the janitor in a long hallway, mopping the floor after all the Warriors walked through with their muddy Bible-time shoes, clustered in a room with a locked door.  And that door’s window was just tall enough that I couldn’t see through it even on my tippy toes.  I keep mopping.  I put my ear to do the door.  Just murmurs.  I wait.

“Maybe I could get all the Prayer Warriors a glass of water?” I say.

“Maybe,” said my Someone, “but they are to be praying without ceasing.  That might be distracting.”


I keep mopping.  I wait.  I remember there is another entrance to the Praying room.

“Maybe I could guard the back door to make sure no one else gets in while everyone is praying?  Like maybe a Heavenly Back Door guard dog?  Maybe Butter could help me?” I suggest.

“Maybe,” said my Someone.  This clearly wasn’t the answer.  I’ve read the Bible.  Dogs are for under the table scraps, not helpers.

I circle back around with my mop.  Then, I realize what is true: while everyone is busy in the room asking God to fix something, no one is trying to fix the thing itself.

“What if I maybe ask God if I can fix it?  Like, maybe I can say– Um, hey, merciful Jesus-Face, I know you are super busy with this room full of praying people, and totally take their request, but if there’s something I can do, just let me know, because I kind of feel like maybe we don’t really need you to step in to everything if there’s something we can do, okay?” I wait.

My Someone waits.  Then he says, “But, then, aren’t you praying?”


I wonder sometimes if maybe it’s more simple than praying.  I wonder sometimes if the way we ask for prayer is actually just asking for someone who knows something to help us.  Maybe I should be a better believer in miracles.  Or maybe I am– maybe I am coming to believe that we have everything we need already here to fix our toothaches and our broken hearts.  It’s just a matter of asking for it.  And maybe if we spent less time clogging the celestial phone lines and more time asking each other, we could have all of our prayers answered.  In an earthly sort of way.  Little bum feet don’t seem to get healed by asking God every day.  But asking a friend for help sometimes helps us meet God.  Even if it’s just a little God-Lady in Custer, South Dakota.

I wonder if it would make me a little less angry with God and a little more hopeful in humanity, too, if when we got what we needed, we said thank you to each other.  Praise you, God-Lady of South Dakota, who fixed my bum foot.  Praise you, little dog, for making my day better.  Praise you, Anonymous-You-Know-Who-You-Are’s, for helping me pay to fix my ailments.  Praise you, Angie, for answering my text.  Praise you, Ryan, for asking how I am feeling.  Praise you, my Someone, for this cup of coffee.

I could sing praises for an eternity this way.  I think God will, too.

Children of Dirt: On Choosing Love Again.

The irony was not lost on me that we were halfway up a hill when we began fighting.  Or when we finished the fight.

It’s the first real time I ever thought– We aren’t going to make it.  We really aren’t.  

But then, it started a few nights ago.


It started when we listened to that story about the different sort of people, all born with two heads and four legs and four arms.  Until Zeus ripped them apart for his usual jealousy.

There were Children of the Moon: half man, half woman.  (I smiled at you at this part, but it was dark and you didn’t see).

Children of the Sun, born both halves as male.

And Children of the Earth, both halves female.

And after the split, these children spent endless time searching for their beloved other half. (Here, I smiled at you again, but you still couldn’t see).  But this story went on to include the Children of the Dirt– those who never had any other half and never would.  (Here, I was grateful to be of the Moon with you, until) You said:

“Maybe we are all just Children of the Dirt.”

You went on to explain how maybe we choose to be Children of anything else, choose to be with anyone else.


Had this been the first we heard it, I may have agreed.  But it was years ago, before we even believed we were in love, and I stood at my stove with the phone pressed to my ear to tell you this amazing theory– was it Plato?– of the two halves searching.

(And it seemed so obvious then– we agreed) We must be each other’s other half.

Or maybe you were right this time around.

Maybe love has no mystery at all.

Maybe it has no other half.

Maybe we lose nothing by believing in the Dirt.


Because, in the end, did I not choose to keep walking up the hill to meet you?  And by the end of our hike, did we not both kick the moon dust from our shoes and be left smelling only of dirt?

Scheming into Heaven: On Interceding for the Doomed.

I know that Jesus is on to me.  He has to be.  It’s practically his job to see me when I’m sleeping and know when I’m awake and know that I am bad not good and scheming under his nose, for godssake.  And I’m starting to feel a little guilty with the other people I’ve pulled into it, putting in a good word for me while I sit back and wring my hands and make no direct eye contact with the Lord and Savior.  And I have recently started to worry that their pleas on my behalf will not only not get me into Heaven with them, but could ultimately be the deterrent that pushes them into Hell or the Nothing.


It has been going like this–

Ryan says, “I’m heading to church to learn more things.”

I say, “Can you ask God if I’m going to Hell while you’re there?”

Ryan says, “I’ll see what I can find out.”

A few hours later, I get a text.  He found something out.

Ryan says, “God says you’re good, but you need to stop worrying.”

I say, “How do you know?”

Ryan says, “Because he said so.”

I say, “I think I need more proof.”

It’s not just Ryan.  I’ve been using my pastor-friend-Bryan’s position for years to tell God nice things about me.  And sometimes it’s difficult to be dating Someone so Saintly, who has pre-ordered us a time share in the New Earth.  And I have suspected Kelsey and Jessica are endlessly putting me at the forefront of their prayers– in a good sort of way.


And so this is how I envisioned it going on Judgment Day:

God says, “You can’t come in here.”

I say, “Okay, I understand.”

My Someone says, “But I already bought us matching robes!”

Bryan says, “Come on, do a servant-of-your-will a solid, God.”

Ryan says, “That’s not the deal we talked about.  Are you going back on that promise?”

Kelsey says, “We can figure this out.”

Jessica says, “Please.”

God, “Okay, fine.  But she is responsible for cleaning the throne room floor for the first 2000 years.  And she is your responsibility.”

Jubilee.  We did it.

Then the worry settled in.  What if at the end of that interaction, God says, “If you want her in here so bad, you take her place.”

There’s this part of me that believes they would.  So I am trying to retract their intercessions and come clean.


A few Sundays ago, we went to church.  It was a gig, really, but a gig that took place during a church service in St. Paul.  I was shaking by the time we took to the stage, then realized too late that I would be singing to a Stained-Glass Jesus in the back of the sanctuary.  I looked down.  I looked at the ceiling.  I looked anywhere else, afraid that direct eye contact would shatter the glass or permanently turn his pristine face to a haunting grimace.  When we finished, I took my usual place in the church– in the front row, hunched down, and ashamed to be there.  A tired display of what not to be.  The pastor took the pulpit and began to speak.



And I waited for the part where I don’t pray enough or right or at all.  But instead, she said this–

“Don’t tell children to pray for starving children in Africa if what they want is chocolate pudding.  In doing so, we teach our children to be hypocrites.”  She went on to tell us to pray for what we want, that if we pray for more pandas and extra dessert, God isn’t going to give us a snake and a vial of poison.  Maybe it’s okay to say what we want, so that maybe those things we want to take over our lives, anymore, even if we don’t get what we want.

I’ve been practicing.  I’m not broaching the subject of salvation or anything big.  I’ve started with my right foot.

Back in May, my bum foot took me out again, and we have been for weeks in beautiful places and not able to hike.  We’ve done everything to fix it, my Someone and I, and nothing has worked.  Then, somewhere between stretches I found on the internet and ice, I threw in prayer.

“Dear God, please help my foot.”

That’s it.  Twice a day, morning and night.  I don’t want anything else.  I don’t want my foot to be healed so as to do His Service.  Because that’s a lie.  I want my foot to be better so I can take a hike in South Dakota in the Black Hills with my dog and my Someone.  Maybe that is God’s will, but I don’t know anything about it.  I just know this: please help my foot.  So I can continue to do my job.  So I can make dinner.  So I can keep being selfish.


Sometime after the praying, Ryan helped me remember Angie.  Angie knows all about important things in the body, being a massage therapist, and Angie found a person who can help me.  Tomorrow morning.  And we have just enough money to cover it this week.

I am not healed, yet.  But I am a little hopeful.

I told Ryan.

Ryan says, “So, do you believe in God, now?”

I say, “I believe in Angie, now.”

Ryan says, “I think that’s the best answer.”

This makes me believe in Ryan, too.  This makes me have a second prayer.

I say, “Please don’t make Ryan go to Hell because of me.”

God says nothing.  Maybe I will tackle issues of faith later.  Two prayers is enough for now.

Where I Am Not, Anymore: On Sketching Time.

It was this time three years ago, now.  1:14AM-1:16AM in the upper bedroom of my friend’s home.  And I was tired and running from a marriage that was running from me.

So while my little 97 pound dog stared at me, I pulled out a pencil and stared at her.  It was a bad sketch, like most of my sketches.  But it was kind of her, and it was important to tell her that she mattered in the moment, because every other moment didn’t seem to matter, anymore.


And then she was too tired to pose and even my promises of WALKS? and tomorrows could not hold her head up.

Maybe it wasn’t enough for me, either, to keep watch so long.

It’s not that we run out of time, so much, as time runs out of us.