I was in love with God for one afternoon. Twenty, alone on a beach, I dropped rocks by the edge and watched the ocean wash gray into blue, brown into red. An hour of my crunching steps, the clack of pebbles, the water’s rippling response. Never mind invisibility. We were the only ones, and I so intoxicating—sand-blown hair, denim cut-offs, no reason to believe anyone’s faith could dissolve. My prayers were as certain as the stones I threw, the answers as sure as the cove’s blue floor.
My teenage son gestures towards his jacket, asks me how to clean out pockets and I realize he’s never had to turn anything completely inside-out before, never had to take something that was designed to serve a good and useful purpose and pull at it, tug until it’s wholly reversed from its original fashioning so that every lost oddment, every needless irritant is set loose and finally it’s empty. It’s not a pocket anymore; it can’t hold anything but the buzzing light from the kitchen and these softly flanneled regrets.
If God is my key witness, and ready to testify on my behalf while still fully aware of the charges against me, yet hoping I am innocent of them all, or most, or surely some, or certainly the worst; If God is my key witness, then it seems strange when Next witness! is called and my chief counsel goes searching, that he is nowhere to be found and when asked, a guard admits he saw him leaving when the vesper bells began at St. Mary’s, saying something about waiting as long as he could, and was sure I would do just fine on my own, but if I should lose, he would send comforters who will stand in the cold at midnight with placards and crepe-draped crosses to cry out at the gates, Shame, Shame!
Are you really? Underneath the snows of winter, do you blossom on and on? Do the pocket gophers crave you, tunneling beneath that blanket, pray to enter your secret chambers, rest inside your open gates?
I see your flowering, fruiting clusters, hanging on into October, leaning into the open path, making way, ushering whatever is holy into the presence of things that stay.