Jack waited for Saturday to come. It seemed like it took a long time, because Jack was so excited. He was happy that his father was willing to help him build a boat. Saturday eventually came, and, after they ate breakfast, Jack and his father headed to the store to buy supplies. Jack’s father bought wood and nails, and he also got some things that Jack had never heard of. They got all the supplies, carried it all out to the car, and headed home. When they got home, Jack’s father laid out all the supplies in their garage. Then they got to work. It was hard work, and Jack wasn’t sure why his father did some things, but he trusted his father to do it correctly. It didn’t really look like a box when it was finished, but more like a real boat. It was pointed at the front, for one thing. Jack’s father said that would make it easier to move forward, especially if it was windy. His Dad also made an oar to paddle the water and thus cause the boat to move across the water. When the boat was finished, they laid it onto Jack’s wagon and rolled it out to the lake. Jack’s father picked the small boat up and eased it into the water. Jack was so excited! A real boat!
The little boy, whose name is Jack, went back to his house and went into the kitchen to see if his mother was there. She was, and Jack asked her, “Mommy, when will Daddy be home?” His mother smiled, answering, “Your father will be home in just a few minutes. He should be on his way home from work right now. Do you need something?” “I need help to build a boat,” Jack said. “Well, I’m sure your Daddy will help you, but you might have to wait until Saturday.” “Okay,” Jack said. “I can wait.” When his father drove his car into the driveway, Jack ran out to him. “Daddy,” he said. “Can you help me build a boat?” “Sure, Jack,” he said. “We’ll do that on Saturday. How big a boat do you want?” “Just big enough for me to sit down in,” said Jack. “Okay, son. We’ll do it, I promise.” Jack was excited! He couldn’t wait for Saturday to come. “What day is today, Daddy?” he asked. “Today is Tuesday,” his Daddy said. “You’ll have to wait four days.” “Okay, thanks, Daddy,” Jack said. “We’ll go to the hardware store together on Saturday morning to buy supplies,” said his Daddy. “Sounds great, Daddy!” Jack said. Jack would count the days until Saturday.
I waited for you
On top of the mountain,
But you didn’t show.
I went down
Into the valley,
But I didn’t see you there.
I sailed on the ocean,
Hoping to catch
A glimpse of you at sunrise,
But I was disappointed.
I prayed to you
To appear to me,
And I looked at my reflection
In a pool of water.
It was then that I realized–
You were always with me,
For you are a part of me.
We can never be separated,
You and I.
We are One.
Are you the hand
That I shake in the pew,
Or on my way out the door,
To the parking lot?
Are you the presence,
In the plate and cup,
Upon the altar,
That is given for me to consume?
Are you the dirty, scarred face,
Of an abused, homeless woman,
Begging on the street,
Around the corner from the grocery store?
Are you the gentle face and eager voice
Of the elderly man
Who comes to my front door,
Struggling to use an iPad to show a video?
Are you the pastor at the soup kitchen,
Who tells me the administrative position
I’m interviewing for requires someone
Who can shmooze with the volunteers?
Are you the book with all the stories
Spoken a long, long time ago,
Written a long time ago,
For people who lived a long time ago?
If so, I’m wondering:
What is your name? Who am I
In relation to you?
Why do you appear differently to all?
I’d like to pin you down,
Put your number and your address
In my contact list.
I’d like to feel you.
I know that’s not how you operate,
If you did, you wouldn’t be God,
Or would you?
Sometimes I wonder.
Gliding along the currents of air,
I’m lifted by the light that shines on me.
Love permeates my being,
Like a spear piercing my side.
The nails are hammered through
My ragged wrists. I cry out,
My God, my God, why?
Have you forsaken me?
The dusk descends and they lower
My cross, loosen my body
And carry me to my tomb.
I stand on a mountaintop.
Throw yourself down!
God’s angels will save you.
Turn these stones into bread.
You are hungry. Go ahead.
Freedom! I am set free by God’s hand.
Risen at last and the tombstone
Is rolled away.
Moving towards you, in a roundabout
Sort of way. I feel the weight of my fear.
No, Mom and Dad didn’t tell me how to
Speak confidently, converse about things
Like interests and hobbies, to discuss the
Issues of the day. So, what is important
To you? I want to know, so true.
Sometimes I freak when I go to church. When you step into a church somehow you feel like you should be on your best behavior. That’s not really a Godly feeling or sentiment, since I believe that God accepts us exactly as we are, wherever we are, but that is how I was raised. In fact, growing up, my mother was ruthless in spurring me and my brother to get ready and stop goofing around on Sunday morning. What was important was looking good by being on time, behaving well, answering questions intelligently and in a spiritual way—basically, putting on a front. Lord knows my family was falling apart at the seams in every way, with my grandmother passing away, my parents’ separation and eventual divorce, and my mother’s undiagnosed mental illness. All was not well in the Bowman household. And those feelings come back to me today as I step through the doors of a church, any church, even one as positive, inclusive and accepting as mine. I wonder what deviant thoughts people suspect me of (well, actually, I am quite the skeptic), what deviant acts I am guilty of that separate me from other Christians and from God, what rebellion I am in that alienates me from the same. Going to church is something I want to do, but at the same time, I do struggle with these things every time, and it compromises my experience on the whole.
Sometimes I freak when I try to pray. Yes, God and I are not on the best of terms—haven’t been for a long time. In fact, except for when I pray with others—my wife at the dinner table and the occasional attempt at a weekly prayer partnership, my male prayer partner, something I initiated this year as an attempt to get closer to God because of my lack of an intimate relationship, and the occasional prayer with my Sunday School class and with the congregation in the sanctuary—I am not on speaking terms with God. I know after that enumeration of instances it doesn’t sound bad, but I guess I am a perfectionist, and I realize how far I am from any kind of daily routine which would bring me into any kind of genuine intimacy with God. Being alone with God is a frightening experience for me. Feelings of emotional and physical abuse from childhood along with visions of an angry Yahweh of the Old Testament conjure a being to be faced that is not the loving, caring Jesus that spoke to the disciples in the upper room that fateful night and told them that when we see him we have seen the Father, because he and the Father are one. When it’s just me and God (and I have to admit it is always the vengeful Father that I envision in my mind, not the gentle Jesus), I just freeze up. Gone are the soothing thoughts of “come to me ye who are weary, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Instead it is a booming God that stares down at me and demands to know every sin I have committed and has come to punish me for them in some crazy sadistic way that makes me cringe and from which I yearn to escape. Not a great relationship, obviously.
Sometimes I freak when I open the Bible. I’ll admit, it’s intimidating. Yes, there is a lot of wisdom there. Yes, I believe it is divinely inspired. Yes, I believe there is potential for healing, instruction, direction, inspiration, grace, forgiveness—all that. But you know what else there is? God. He is there, waiting, behind those words. For what? I don’t know. But the potential scares me. I have read the entire Bible many times over, and if there is one thing I know for sure, there is power behind those words. And the thought of being overpowered, perhaps in a scary way, is what keeps me from those words. I have been overpowered, many times, in absolute terror, and I have run from figures of authority, figures who were supposed to be trustworthy caretakers, symbols of love and support, that have turned on me like a viper lunging for its prey. Is God like that? My intellect tells me no, but my heart, and my body, are not so sure. After all, if humans, blood, family, can be tyrannical, how much more can God? And there is something else—God is all powerful. Do I want to surrender myself to an all powerful tyrant? Do I want his thoughts to be my thoughts? No, not by a long shot.
Deep down, I dig to the bottom.
What lies in this hidden depth?
Fear, grief, rage, confusion…
It rocks my reason, clouds my vision.
But what is the answer?
Where is the road out of this darkened wood?
Is it faith? Trust? Logic? Courage? Peace?
Is Love the answer? Where will it take me?
Right now everything is scary.
I feel caught in a cage,
In chains, buried deep underneath
Miles of ground, isolated by time,
Place, and no relationships that bring
Relief, connection, revelation, peace.
Anxiety rules the roost, it conquers all.
Fear is my father, abandonment is my mother.
Rage is my brother, grief is my sister.
This is my family. My friends are shadows,
Ghosts in a mist that only evaporate in my
Hands when I reach out to hold their hands.
I am lost in my mirrors, erroring in my program,
Nothing makes sense, nothing works.
What is the truth? Who is my savior?
From where does my salvation come?