Swearing at God


These last two weeks have decidedly not gone at all well. To fully appreciate this post you have to know three things: I have serious fear of bees. When I get hurt, it is always in the weirdest of ways. Patience is a virtue, but it isn’t one of mine.

Since I was a little kid, I have been deathly afraid of bees. So when I parked at the beach two weeks ago on a beautiful, breezy Sunday morning, planning to spend a Sunday morning as I often do, praying and writing and listening to the waves, I was horrified when three yellow jackets came into the car. They weren’t buzzing around where I could shoo them out an open window. They crawled down between the seats, into my purse and essentially settled in for a lengthy stay. I, on the hand, bailed out of the car barefoot, having kicked off my sandals when I parked. There were scores of angry, aggressive yellow jackets outside the car too. I couldn’t get in the car and I couldn’t stay outside the car. I ended up fleeing down the sidewalk, down a flight of steps and across a rocky beach to escape the little devils. I actually had to call my sister to bring a can of Raid so I could at least get back into my car.

Somehow in my escape, I managed to step wrong or miss a step or step on something. Being in a full-blown panic over the bees, I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly what I did but in the end, I injured my heel and could barely stand to put weight on my foot. So naturally, knowing something was obviously very wrong, I limped around for a week hoping it would just go away. Yeah, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was explain to the family doctor that was I pretty sure I broke my foot running from a nest of angry yellow jackets. The man has already witnessed the time I sprained my knee while dressed up as the Easter Bunny and the time my dog broke my nose so I really, really didn’t want to add this little gem to my file. But after a week, I couldn’t stand the pain anymore and I went to see him. He was kind enough to keep a straight face. While it’s not all out broken, there is a hairline fracture on the heel spur and I’m to stay off my foot for a few weeks until the swelling goes down and I can put weight on it without pain and then we’ll reassess how to treat it. Yes, I, the hopeless klutz, am now on crutches. Yes, this is a disaster in the making. I never appreciated how many steps I take in a day, usually with something in my hands, until I had to use these blasted things. I am a horribly impatient patient.

When I parked at the seawall two weeks ago, I was in a pretty decent place with God. We had stuff to talk about but it was all good. But as I settled into my place and mindset of prayer, all hell broke loose. For most of the following week, every time I tried to pray, the first words out of my mouth were, “What the [expletive] was that?!?!”  Okay. Understandable. I was a little shaken and in pain. But now two weeks later, every conversation with God is prefaced with, “I’m still royally pissed off at You…”

The writing I was planning to do that day remains unwritten. And I’ve had a hard time being still. I’m frustrated beyond reason by my sudden, temporary limitation. I try to tell myself to be reasonable. I mean really, what was God supposed to do: put a bubble around my car? Send angels to carry me to safety? Smite the bees? Smiting the bees really would have been my first choice. I don’t know what I expected, but the fact that I came to a quiet place, to keep a standing date and was not only chased from it but wounded in the process really bugs me. (Pun very much intended.) If this had happened anywhere else, would I be as angry? Probably not. Was it that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things? No. And have I dealt with far worse without being such a brat about it? Yes. Is there a lesson in this mess? Probably. And maybe it’s that it’s okay to honestly give God a piece of my mind now and then, even if it’s over stupid little stuff.

God Ain’t Santa

Flashback: Christmas 1981

The one thing I really wanted for Christmas that year was a Matchbox Sounds of Service Garage.  I had written it carefully in my letter to Santa and come Christmas morning, there it was under the tree.  It was carefully wrapped but already assembled with batteries in it, ready to go.

Newsflash: God Ain’t Santa

erectprIt took me a long time to figure out that sometimes gifts from God are already whole and complete. But most of the time, it’s like getting an Erector set… one…tiny eighth-of-an-inch screw…at…a…time…and then getting the tools and instruction manual last.  As you know, patience is a virtue, it isn’t one of mine.  So my conversations with God tend to go a little like this:

God: “Here.  Hang on to this.”

Me: “Why?”

God: “It’s important.”

Me: “But what is it?”

God: “You’ll see.”

Me: “Yeah, but when?”

God: “Later.”

Me: “Can’t You just tell me?”

God: “Nope. You’ll know when you need to know.”

Me: “Do You have any idea how absolutely frigging infuriating You can be?!”

He never answers that last one but I can always feel the Divine Smirk.

The thing about that Matchbox garage is that I knew exactly what I wanted.  When it comes to my spiritual life, nine times out of ten, I have no clue what it is I’m asking for.  Yeah, there are those times when I know I want wisdom or clarity or courage but more often than not I see something I can’t quite name, something just beyond my understanding and all I know is I want that, whatever that is.  And that’s okay because unlike Santa, who requires an exact list, God already knows what the vague and nebulous that is.

Every year, Deacon Ron asks me what gift I will ask of God for Christmas.  This is one of those years when what I want is something I can’t quite name.  I saw it last week in a little boy.  He was about eight years old and was sitting a couple of pews in front of me at Mass.  He caught my eye as he was so thoroughly captivated by everything happening on the altar. Meanwhile, his little sister had fallen asleep in their mother’s arms.  When it came time to receive Communion, their mother was trying to position the sleeping girl on the pew and while she wasn’t looking, the little boy darted out of the pew. With his hands jammed into the pockets of his winter coat, he put his arms out like airplane wings and ‘flew’ his way up the aisle. Oblivious of the adults piously processing forward, he ran ahead and cut in front of the entire line. After receiving the Body of Christ, he turned and flashed his mortified mother a smile that I will never forget. For a moment, the world stopped spinning beneath me.  All I could see was his face and all that I wanted was what I could see in his eyes.

For the life of me, I can’t tell you what I saw.  Innocence? Joy? Freedom? Love? Grace?  Some concoction of all of those?  I don’t know. But I want it.  I pointed it out to God in that moment as the world stopped beneath me.

THAT – right there – that – I don’t know what that is, but You do and I want that more than anything.”

And I felt God smile.

I really hope this isn’t going to be one of those Erector set gifts that is going to come one little piece at a time. Much assembly required and batteries not included…yet.  But for some crazy reason, God seems determined to teach me patience.

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