I met God

cropped-my_mom3.jpg I met God: He’s a little African American boy living in the Philadelphia area. The morning after General Tsao tofu food poisoning I was in line to get hot tea at the Holiday Inn Express on Columbus Boulevard on Penn’s Landing where I first saw him. Nothing was going to stay down that morning except some hot black tea with sugar, so I waited in line at the breakfast bar. As I filled my cup with hot water from the urn a small voice said, “I think that’s coffee,” and I looked over into the face of God.

He was seven, or six or five or I don’t know, he was a light brown color, with brown hair and eyes. I said to God, “No that’s hot water for tea.” “Lava is hot,” he replied. And I said, “Yes, lava can severely injure you, but this is only going to burn you.” “Lava can kill you,” he said authoritatively, and I realized, he was right, Lava can kill. The second time we spoke, I was feeling better and wanted a bagel. While I was picking up my bagel he happened to be sitting at the end of the bar where I stood. I looked at him and said “Hi!”, like we were old friends. Then I apologized to his mom for speaking to him, because who befriends children at a motel breakfast bar? But there he was again, it would be rude to simply ignore God, there are somethings we all implicitly understand.

After seeing God again, I went back to my room, got ready and checked out to go by the airport and back home. Then two days later he came to me in my dream, expounding on the truths of existence with his upturned face and pleasant but piercing visage. The depth of the universe was in his small face.

These events seemed important but why? I asked myself, why is God here, how? How can after all I have studied, digested, and rejected can God be real? Nothing had prepared me for the destruction of my certainty. Yes, most recently I had lost faith, in any higher being, any God. At one time I believed, I expected a coming Nirvana or Kingdom of Heaven on earth. All would be taken care of, we were moving toward global unity, the eradication of poverty and disease seemed possible until 2008. Life as we knew was irrevocably changed, and loss became prevalent as people saw so much of what they had disappear or be forcibly taken from them. The many regular folk who simply wished to live in in relative prosperity, relative peace were given a new harsh reality. My old God was obsolete in the face of this massive plunder, and I felt betrayed for myself and my fellow citizen. But there was a secret about this apparent prosperity and peace that I did not know when I first believed in my old God.

There was a secret when I sat in the church, while the Priest said mass or I read some holy book. That secret was my own safety, my ability to sit in a church on Sunday morning and to go to my white Granny’s house every Sunday afternoon and eat fried chicken in Kansas was at someone’s expense. God could hear me because someone else had paid, everything has a price and some other soul was paying the price. That God was this protector of my safety, the answerer of my prayers- the one who could magically make all new and maybe take all away too was only there because another unwillingly gave their life. And most of those people were brown or black.

Then God showed up at the swimming pool. It was hot and I went for a swim. I picked a chair, sat my stuff down and got in the water, got out and he walked by. He was with his parents, a young white woman and a young African American man. He seemed younger than the last time I had seen him, but he was looking at me again, right at me. We exchanged glances and he smiled sheepishly, only a little shy. I smiled back and watched him as he played and taught his parents to be grave and respectful – while he commanded himself with great certainty and buoyancy. He was himself, contained infinite consciousness, a piece of all that is in the form of a boy.

If you think you can avoid God, think again. He showed up in line behind me at the 7-11 on Greenhill Road. He was older now, maybe nine and he had a gallon of milk and a can of something in his hands waiting his turn. He looked right at me, and I tried not to stare. I saw his Dad waiting in the car outside in the parking lot, I hope the parents don’t think I’m some white lady pervert stalking their children or something. Its just that he has taken me by surprise so many times in just the first week since we met. He is showing up at the strangest times, and maybe its me who is strange.

And God is still around, I saw him driving home from work yesterday. He was near some urban housing where he was playing with his friends. Two of his friends ran across the street and I looked over and there he was again. He was sitting on a short wall, one leg extended, looking happy and confident. I wondered how he knew I was going to be there, but I’m starting to understand now. You see every picture I ever saw of God he was this white man, flowing beard, you know the one. So I had no choice but to see him that way. But when I lost my faith, when my belief was shattered, I deconstructed every piece of my religious experience and threw it away for uncertainty, for the void.

Who was it that decided God is a white man with a flowing beard? And why is God a white man in a flowing beard in all of western religious teaching? Who decided that when I think of God, a God, any God that if I see a woman or an animal or a child that it can’t be God? My belief in God was very strong, it made me who I was, and it still defines me today, though I no longer see him clad in cumulus clouds. And this God was offered to me singularly, there were no options for a Kansas born girl to see any God but the white male God until I went to an art gallery or museum. Only over time did it become clear to me then that each person thought of God differently. But I never saw a black God, an African American God a brown God no I never saw one.

So tell me how you know God. Is it the popular, mainstream God, the images and language of white men, our lord, our savior our omniscient guide and creator? You may think, hey God is not really a person or anything, but people need something to think about when they are on their knees begging for forgiveness or a new car. But it was decided a long time ago, that people did need to think of a western male, and most religious and sacred art we see points to that. The Bible doesn’t speak to color in the way that most Christians assume, only a few understand that the people of the time of Christ were middle eastern, Jewish, African, and likely brown and black. They weren’t white – so any Christian god should be brown or black and everyone should know that by now. This is the truth, white people have imagined this white God for us, the fact that less than 10% of the inhabitants of our earth are white means they wanted everyone to see God that way.

This is the reason why God came to me thusly. God is saying to us all, see me, I am here, see me in the people of the world, the people you ignore, the people you deplore, the people you fear, the worlds you dismiss. I see you do you see me? I see you God, and I know I am on your side.

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