The Poster

It was One of Those Afternoons. I was anxious to get a poster mailed off. The last mail truck pick-up in town is 4:30. Needed poster mailer, available at stationery story that also has a postal outlet. Got together poster and slip of paper with mailing address, parka, boots, gloves (it's cold out), glasses, purse ... purse? Purse? Not in house. Not in car. Where's my purse?


I knew, with that utter certainty that a woman has about her purse (part of a strange but extremely close relationship--guys, don't even try to understand this!) exactly where my purse was. It was at a friend's house in Bishop's Mills, where I'd gone earlier in the afternoon to pick up the poster. Bishop's Mills is about 10 minutes southwest of here. I could just do it....

Driving southwest at 4-ish on a clear January afternoon means that you are driving straight into the sun, and that the sun's position is at an angle below your car's sun visor. The air is so dry and clear that the sun is very, very bright. Oh, what fun. If you have no sunglasses, the best you can do is squint and hold a gloved hand up, trying to block the sun itself without losing too much view of the road. I thought how little I really like looking at the sun, or even being in extremely bright light. If God is like the sun, as so many hymns and visionaries say, I'm in real trouble.

At the train crossing on Route 18, the pole was down and the lights were flashing. Train crossing. Oh. I see. They've been delivering the new year-model cars to the city. They expect to sell a lot of cars, because they'll be 2000 models. Evidently, given the number of empty car-carrier railways cars. Long wait. Train vanishes; pole rises; once again I'm driving into the sunset.

Got to Bishop's Mills. Found purse at friend's house. Headed back to town, this time with the sun (thank God!) behind me. What I do like is the way the slanting light glorifies things: giving the poor broken woods a living lightness, turning a stand of plumed grass to softly glowing gold.

Back along Highway 18, and, oh gawd, at the level crossing, the pole was down *again*. This NEVER happens, two trains within 10 minutes of each other. This train was heading into the city with a load of late-model cars. Boy, they really are optimistic about car sales.... This time I was lead car in the line, and I got to see the three diesel engines thundering by, and I thought: I find this mightiness and power rather scary. If God is might and power, how am I going to cope with Him?

If God is brighter than a thousand suns, I cannot imagine spending eternity staring at him in worshipful adoration. Maybe that's how it will be; I just can't fancy it from where I am now. If God is might and power, am I going to find him formidable and overwhelming? These may be real and important aspects of God, but I find them more off-putting than attractive.

I know what I want in a God: I want a God who is gentle and tender and careful in handling people's bruised souls. I want a God of quiet green spaces with a great silver river flowing through, a God of delightful company and the sweetest music. I also want a God of deep-shadowed moutain woods, full of dancing mischief and Dionysian giggles. I want a God of silver fish leaping, and the curl of a new fern, and the fractal of the edge of the tide moving in. I want a God of Joy: I'm just not quite sure what that Joy will taste like.

But if there's anything at all I know, it's that I don't get to choose what God is like. I cannot specify a Deity who is all mercy-- or all judgment and stern righteousness. I cannot limit God to any form or aspect, however positive to our Godblind human vision. God is God is God, and I don't get to write the specifications.

But perhaps God, in God's great kindness, chooses (in dealing with any one of us, in our mortality and human frailty) to limit Godself to whatever we can manage to accept. I can't look into the sun without doing real and permanent damage to my sight: that's asking too much of my retinas. I can't hold out my arms to three thundering Canadian Rail diesel engines, asking for an embrace: I will be hamburger on the tracks, and that's terribly upsetting to the poor engineers, not to mention my near and dear ones.

But if, given what life's been like, I want and desperately need a God who's like a big fuzzy fleece that I can drive my fingers into and press my face up against, for comfort and a safe place to cry, then maybe--just maybe--God's willing to be like that for my sake, until I'm ready for something better and bigger. What I must never do is to say that God is that big fuzzy fleece. That's a form of idolatry. God is infinitely bigger than that, and infinitely more mysterious.

I doubt that I will ever, in however many thousand ages come in the Life to Come, ever be able to walk all the way around God, much less comprehend God's totality. There will always be more of God than I can ask or imagine, and that's the mystery.

Moving a blue streak, I got to the stationery store/postal outlet --and found that the mail had already been picked up. Got poster mailer. Sped downtown to the main post office, where I still had a few minutes before the truck left. Realized I had left paper with mailing address at stationery store.

Oh well. It'll have to wait till Monday.

Copyright © 2000 Molly Wolf. Originally published Sat, 15 Jan 2000
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