I grew up talking to God… an Irish thing to do. Walking down the street saying, Hi God, it’s me Cathy, how are You today? That’s a great tree You made. Thanks for the sunrise. Please help me with my math test. Please make it easier for my mother to breathe. That kind of conversation. I didn’t want Him to think I was a fair-weather friend, who’d only call on Him in times of need. So I talked, and I knew He listened. If I prayed, He always answered. Sometimes He said no.
I grew up, studied comparative theologies, (fallout from my mother having given me the Bible of the World at nine) sought answers in other people’s faiths, some quite exotic, and evolved my own spiritual amalgam. Spiritual truth became more complex as life did, but the conversations remained, along with my conviction that whatever you say to God is heard and appreciated. I’ve always wondered if maybe Creator made us just so S/He’d have someone to talk to – it must be lonely in the vastness of space and the inevitability of perfection.
All that talking has left me with a weird sense of camaraderie with God… the kind that lets you say what’s really on your mind. Mind you, the vicissitudes of my life have caused me to run the conversational gamut from thank you, to what the Hell do You think You’re doing? I’ve discovered along the way that it’s easy to have perfect faith in a big house, with money in the bank, and a life that’s doing exactly what it should. Not so easy on the shower line at Dachau, stone soap in your hand. Hope gone. Astonishment at the consummate evil of the world making you dizzy with disbelief. Maybe we don’t all find ourselves in a Death Camp, but no one escapes The Crucible. Somewhere between birth and death, the price of life is paid in anguished coin.
I began to hypothesize that when the chips are down and you shake your fist at God and demand to know what gives, maybe that’s the moment of true faith. Is it in the darkest moments of our life, I wonder, when we’re pleading, or ranting, or on the brink of annihilation, is that the time when God says, Ah… so she really believes in Me?
One on One
As I slugged my way through one tragedy after another, I had the bizarre notion that it was essential that I come clean with God. That I tell Him/Her exactly how angry I was at the injustice of life. The good die young, the meek don’t inherit the earth… that kind of thing. So I ranted and railed, as I was stretched beyond the limits of despair, but at least it kept us – God and me – talking, like old comrades close enough to yell at each other and still love. Like Death and General Putnam.
It seems clear to me now, you need to go one-on-one with God, sometimes. You’re seriously overmatched, of course, that goes without saying. But you’re also taking Him at His word. Ask and ye shall receive, Christ said, Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you. So when you ask, you seek, you knock and no one seems to answer, while you struggle valiantly to keep the faith against the odds and any rational concept of fair, thinking you have a right to tell it like it is, seems to me exactly what God would want you to do.
So, here’s my thought: when you’re hanging at the end of your rope, storming heaven is an act of faith. Demanding answers to your desperate questions, no platitudes, or homilies or wooden nickels or anybody’s answer but that of the One who made the rules, is an act of faith. There’s no point railing at a non-existent God or one who’s dead or even disinterested. So when the chips are down and you say, God, I think we need to talk, I believe it isn’t blasphemy but reverence.
© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2011
Photo Credit- Dakota Cash