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Looking for Clues

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“The unexpected sound of your name on somebody’s lips. The good dream. The odd coincidence. The moment that brings tears to your eyes. The person who brings life to your life. Maybe even the smallest events hold the greatest clues. If it is God we are looking for, as I suspect we all of us are, even if we don’t think of it that way and wouldn’t use such language on a bet, maybe the reason we haven’t ‘found God’ is that we are not looking in the right places.”

I read this little excerpt from Frederick Buechner this morning on one of the spiritual email lists I subscribe to but don’t usually read. The little blurbs have nice inspirational titles like A Pause for Beauty and Inward/Outward and Contemplative Living, but they mostly just look like clutter in my inbox. When I bother to click, though, they often contain gems like Buechner’s.

I suspect Buechner’s quote resonated with me because I’ve been having a lot of these moments lately, these “clues” that make me feel as if I’m in the flow of life, rather than fighting against the current as I often seem to be. Sometimes I recognize them as clues, sometimes I don’t.

If you’re one of those people who “don’t think of it that way and wouldn’t use such language on a bet,” perhaps you wouldn’t see these as clues. I get that. The world is an effed up place in many ways, and I can see why some people don’t believe in a loving God.

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Here’s why I think Buechner’s “clues” point to God:

  • “The unexpected sound of your name on somebody’s lips.” I experienced this the other night at a gathering of old environmental lobbyist friends, many of whom I worked with for twenty-plus years. Since I retired six years ago, I rarely connect with any of them except for an occasional Facebook comment. I find this odd, since I had felt so integrally connected with them all. I know how it is, though — I remember the busyness and how Capitol Hill eats your life so that nothing else seems to matter. And part of the separation is my own choice — I haven’t had much time to connect, being so busy with school and taking care of my sick brother. At any rate, as I passed through the crowd the other night, I heard my name over and over. “Melanie’s here . . . did you see Melanie? Remember how Mel used to say . . . ?” Every time I heard my name, I could feel my spirit-self relaxing into a warm, comforting bubblebath, a bubblebath of belonging. They know me, they remember me, I belong here. I think the magic word belonging is one clue to God: we were created as one spiritual whole; we just get disconnected. God puts the longing in our hearts for the unity, the oneness, the belonging. Sadly, it is often organized and compartmentalized religion that causes the disconnect.
  • “The good dream . . .” Oh yes, please. We often remember scary dreams and dreams of loss and fear, and although these can be great teachers if we take the time to work with them, it’s such a gift and a blessing when a “good dream” comes along. These dreams, I think, are a sign that there’s a spirit of goodness floating around in the ether and it communicates with our subconscious. I remember when my older sister, who is vehemently anti-God, told me that she had discovered that the Universe is Good. This filled me with joy because she’s a serious introvert with few connections, so the fact that she ran across this lovely truth through her private meditations meant to me that the good spirit in the ether had taken the initiative to connect with her.
  • “The odd coincidence.” These are the strangest, because the exact same thing could happen to a God-believer and a non-God-believer and their conclusions would be completely different. I love coincidences because they remind me that there’s a plan. That when I’m in the flow, weird little things happen that I could never have dreamed up on my own, like lovely sun-warmed boulders in the river of life on which I can rest for a short time and get a better view of the journey.
  • “The moment that brings tears to your eyes,” reminding us that we are all human and we all share emotional bonds that buoy us up and carry us through the hard times. I tear up a lot, whether it’s sharing someone else’s pain, watching a little girl bang a tambourine and dance at church, or laughing with my friends till we cry and then our eyes connect and we know that we are blessed to be in each other’s lives. Through our tears, God reminds us that we are not alone, that joy and grief are universal. Plus, I think it’s awesome that our creator made tears to lower stress, elevate mood, and carry away toxins from our bodies. How cool is that?
  • “The person who brings life to your life.” Hmmm. I suppose this line could make me sad, since I don’t have one particular person that “brings life to my life” at the moment. No lover, no kids. And it makes me miss my brother, who was also my best buddy. But somehow it doesn’t make me feel sad — I feel like I have a huge community of people who bring life into my life. Different ages, different races, different backgrounds, different interests. I love my life. I’m crazy-blessed. I suppose Buechner’s point here is larger — it’s about love. Unconditional, absurdly generous love. And that, my friends, is the biggest clue to God. We’re swimming in it, if we “look in the right places.”

 

God’s Work

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Now that the U.S. election is over, perhaps we can let God get back to work. We’ve kept the Creator of the Universe very busy with ballot initiatives labeled “anti-God” or “God’s will” or “godless.” This party or that party is rejecting God or using God or ignoring God. Millions of people have been praying to God to let X win or Y lose because otherwise it will mean doom for our nation and perhaps the world.

Really?

Don’t you think God has just a wee bit bigger perspective? Sometimes people forget:

God is not a Republican. God is not a Democrat. And guess what…God is not even an American!

Gasp!

Let me step back — I am aware that quite a few people don’t believe in God — many of the people I love most do not.

In America, much wind is expended trying to justify – or nullify – the existence of God. This strikes me as highly amusing – I’m not sure why.

I mean, if there is a God, how funny is that? All these little created things running around insisting they weren’t created.

God’s existence, though, is one of the very few things of which I am certain.

I’m Not as Smart as I Used to Be

I used to be certain about lots of things. To be honest, I thought I knew best about most things. I think a lot of people do. It covers up their low self-esteem.

I inherited this “I know best” belief. I dearly love my departed parents, but recognize that my mother’s regal British nose was tilted ever so slightly upwards, and my father’s Texan roots were firmly grounded in the belief that Texans are bigger and better, period.

Her Royal Highness, Queen Victoria

Cowboy Boot And Hat Clip Art

Don’t Mess With Texas

I can still be cocky or defensive on a bad day, especially during an election. Tilted noses and Texan roots die hard. But really, why would I have more or less of “the truth” than anyone else?

What a relief: I don’t have to have all the answers or “prove” anything!

Unnecessary Extravagance

I don’t have to prove to you that God exists. I can’t. That’s God’s work. Still, I will say that the idea that there is no God, no higher spirit, no over-arching consciousness, no Creator, seems utterly absurd to me.

Here’s why I believe:

  • There are sunsets. (And sunrises, so I’ve been told.)
  • We can see colors. How astonishing!
  • I have looked through a microscope and a telescope.
  • Galaxies upon galaxies. Shooting stars and crescent moons.
  • Humans make art and appreciate beauty for no apparent reason.
  • Flowers attract pollinators with exuberant colors and soul-filling smells. Unnecessarily extravagant, wouldn’t you say?
  • Natural cycles: water, nitrogen, photosynthesis, evolution – gloriously complex, yet simple. Brilliant.
  • If I pray, I can easily LOVE someone I previously could not stand. Try it.
  • Because the longer I spend alone and in silence, the more I know I’m not alone.
  • Because the idea that all this just kinda happened  is funnier than Jon Stewart.

I’m done writing about politics for now. (Unless you consider climate change political. I can’t seem to stay away from that topic.) Since I’m swearing off writing about politics on account of my blood pressure, I thought I’d move on to something less controversial, like religion.

Which brings me to my questions: If God were to register, do you think it would be as an Independent? And if you don’t believe in God, what’s wrong with you anyway??

 

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