Month: August 2017

Dog God: On the Love of.

I read a poem about a dog, where the poet imagines that in the dog’s dream, it went like this–

“…not quite barking. More like

Learning to speak. As if he’s in the middle of a scene

Where he must stand before the great dog god

Trying to account for his life.”

–Tracy K. Smith

This brought my Someone and I to a very important list.  It went like this:


  1. Forgiving.
  2. Happy to have you.
  3. Doesn’t care if you found the perfect family.
  4. “Did you try? You did? Good dog!… wait, you didn’t?  How about now?  Try now!  Look at this stick!  Come play!”
  5. Gives no shits who Jesus is.  Only who you are.  And you are someone who belongs.

This list makes me believe in this:

God will not be outdone– out forgiving-ed, out loving-ed– by a Dog God.  Imaginary or not.

“Dog God is so fun to be around,” I told my Someone.

“Yes!  Dog God is just so happy we are all together!” my Someone said.

“Dog God is saying, ‘Hi, My Name is– uh, doesn’t matter!  I’m so happy to see you!  Do I know you?  Of course I know you!  I know everyone and everyone is a good dog!”

That is when my Someone said this:

“For a second, I forgot we were talking about Dog God and thought we were talking about Jake Larson.”

Jake Larson is our friend.

I said:

“Jake Larson is a good Dog (God).”

Which made me believe this:

God will not be outdone by our friend Jake Larson.

My friend Kelsey sometimes says this:

“All that matters to me is, what about Jesus?  Because if we can agree on that, we’re good.”

And I say, sometimes:

“I’m not sure.”

But then, Kelsey is still my friend.  She invites me into her home.  We share recipes and sometimes secrets and I make her muffins and she lets me cuddle with her baby boy.  Kelsey loves me.  It turns out, this name for God she uses doesn’t change the love part at all.  And I think that, maybe, a God who is

  1. Forgiving.
  2. Loving.
  3. Forever.

will not be outdone by Kelsey.  Or, at least, it’s hard to believe that S/He wouldn’t at least learn from Kelsey, Her little love creature, and as a

  1. Humble
  2. Gracious

God say–

“Kelsey, you’re really on to something.”

And then, God would say this–

“Did you try?  Yes?  No?  Look at this stick!  Look at these neat things we can explore together!  Let’s go!”

And, because Her anger is short and Her love is long– even longer than Kelsey’s– we would all go on, restored, together.  Forever.

So, maybe I believe it to be like this:

If we are loving and forgiving, where would we have learned it from?  How could forever love come from One who isn’t also willing to be Forever Love?  I think God will not be outdone.  She will top even Dog God and Jake Larson and Kelsey.

It’s hard to imagine that much love.


Shiny Shoes and Nazi Flags: On Stopping Categories.

“When we got coffee this morning, we told them we were coming here, and they all said it was as near to nowhere as you can get,” I told Ed.

Ed lives in Isabel, South Dakota.  It’s as near to nowhere as you can get, and it was our second time visiting.  This is a place of long roads with few gas stations, small towns with a minimum of two cowboy hats per male, and prairies that look like they could swallow the world’s oceans without eroding a single rock for how thirsty they are.  Ed is a person who rolls his eyes at what I just said.

“Did they also say, ‘It’s not the end of the world, but it’s damn near it!’ or ‘Even God hardly knows where that is’ or just ‘Why the hell you going there?'”

They had said that.  Almost in that order.

“Yeah,” said Ed. “Everyone likes to have that place– the place you call the sticks.  People on the east side, they think they’ve got it all because they’re still close to the big cities.  But they’re still in South Dakota.  But they need that.  Everyone needs that.  They need a place that’s further out than them.  They need the place that’s too scary.  We spend all our time marking off places not to go, marking off people who are too backwards or dangerous or too snobby.  I can’t explain it, but we keep making those things up.”

I stood staring for a second.

“Well, anyway,” Ed said. “Good to see you again.”

An Abbreviated List of What I Was Afraid of Before by Nature or Nurture That I Am No Longer Afraid of on Account of Having Experienced Them or Learned More About Them:

  1.  California.
  2. Yoga.
  3. People with different colored skin.
  4. Spicy Food.
  5. People with Really Shiny Shoes.
  6. Being Alone.
  7. Zip Lining.
  8. Swimming in the Ocean.
  9. Gaggles of Teenagers.
  10. Pastors.

Things I Am Still a Little or a Lot Afraid of Even After Experiencing Them:

  1. Wasps.
  2. Snakes.
  3. Heights.
  4. Christians.

I still have some work to do.

The thing about choosing a people to be afraid of, is that being afraid of them doesn’t make them less safe.  And putting other people in our safe category doesn’t keep them from being scary.  This I know to be true on account of my Someone.

List of Requirements for My Future Husband as I Recall Them as a 14-Year-Old:

  1. no blue eyes– blue eyes are not only not like mine, but also untrustworthy.
  2. not from California.  People from there are too flippant about marriage and he will surely leave me scared and alone in a state that is falling off the rest of the continent.
  3. must be a devout Christian.  Christian men take marriage seriously and will not leave me for some young thing when we are fifteen years in.

Truthfully, these categorizations did not stop a brown-eyed Christian worship leader from New York from molesting me for years.  And my blue-eyed Californian Agnostic-on-his-best day Someone has exceeded all expectations of his doomed evaluation.  Even on his extra shiny shoes days.

This I also know to be true on account of those people who look just like me and are carrying torches and speaking hate to people who look not like me at all.  People who do and don’t look just like me are dying because of these flag waving people who also look just like me because of all this dangerous other they’ve made up.  And they’re wrong.  They are completely wrong.

I don’t think I need these safe and scary categories, anymore.  I am working to break them down, to make my world a little more chaotic.   Because these categories are just superstitions to keep me safe, and these same superstitions are allowing other people to carry Nazi and Confederate flags in the streets of Charlottesville, VA.  I don’t want to be part of that– things I can justify avoiding, things I can deem as unfortunate.  And all the while missing out on a wide world of spicy curries and good people.  There’s no lucky rabbit foot in all of South Dakota that can keep me safe from feeling so full of all this other.

Open Vessels: On Being Not Chosen.

Back when I was trying to believe in a God who chooses some for love and some for destruction, it was difficult to get on board.  At the time, I thought it was because I had too much sadness for all those others who would spend their lives separate from me.  All those drug dealers and prostitutes and grandparents who didn’t go to church.  Meanwhile, I would spend Sunday mornings working myself Chosen to death, next to the greedy, the guileless, the molesting.

I think what I knew then is what I know now: that if this is true, that some are Chosen, then it is something I can believe whole heartedly, but only if I believe that I am not, in fact, one of the Chosen.

I know there are more out there like me.

All these heavenly strings attached, maybe it’s better to be the vessel for destruction, anyway.  A vessel implies an opening, after all.  And anyone who leaves themselves open for destruction can also be open to the ripping heart Destroyer of love.  No zippers keeping us inward and upward and compact for God.  Just fluid beings bumping into the just and unjust, trying to find a way to make it work right here, right now.

Puppy Love: On Calls and Responses.

Before my newest pup loved me, I could yell at her and she would not respond at all.  She would keep chew-chewing or sleeping or noting her paws.  I could make high pitched sounds of leaking cute, and she did not care that they were for her.  Her tail barely gave a waggle.

Before we knew each other so well– before she could hear the first jingle of the leash and know that it was time for a walk, before I could tease her until she would bark once at excitement, before she knew what too far was– she did nothing.  She bumped around on her own.  All I could do, and she couldn’t care.

Now, after she found out that I loved her, it is all she can do but to respond to my movements.  And when I yell at her, she is in the worst life.  When I make high pitched sounds of leaking cute, she bops her front paws up and down like she will explode.  She knows, now, that every movement is a movement for her.  This is how I know that she knows that I love her.

It is for this reason that I wonder whether I love God, or s/he loves me, at all.

For all this noise, I cannot tell that any of it is for me.