[Waiting for Muhammad Ali’s funeral procession at the entrance to the Cave Hill Cemetery; Louisville, KY, June, 2016]
My bedroom is on the first floor and I live on a busy street so, late one night last week, when a fire truck’s flashing lights shone through my venetian blinds as it roared past, it almost made sense to dopily wonder, “Is my house on fire?”
The next day, fully caffeinated, I took a closer look at my nighttime craziness/confusion. And, chagrined, recognized it.
First: the craziness/confusion: Umm: Wouldn’t I have known if my house were engulfed in flames? Duh! Yet, strangely, mysteriously, sleepily, I assumed someone had dialed 9-11. Someone who knew better than I. Someone watching out for me. Stepping in. My savior.
Next, the recognition: These days, reading headlines? I wait for that savior. I stop breathing; I wait. In some childish and primitive way I wait for some mythical, larger-than-life superstar to drop the dime, blow the whistle, step in. Rescue us. “Help me, Obi Wan Kanobi! You’re my only hope!”
Yet even as I again hold my breath at the latest outrage or wanton cruelty (24 million people will lose their healthcare?! 24 million?) or in-your-face greed and corruption, I’m learning to remind myself: Your outrage is shared. You are not alone. (And there’s the ACLU and federal judges and Black Lives Matter and climate activists and the sanctuary movement and . . . )
“God is in the hard places,” Hugh Barbour, a Quaker theologian, once taught me. And I came to learn to recognize God in the dead-center of pain and suffering. Now I’m learning to recognize God in the collective, in the many’s—and amplified—That of God.
For those keeping score at home, you may remember I’d also found meaning in God As Verb. Now: God as plural verb? Are? Love as a verb? Let’s love it.