Sunday, June 10, 2007

what god sounds like

I know what the voice of God sounds like.

I heard it at church this morning when our pre-kindergarten and kindergarten age children led us in our prayer of confession as a part of our worship service celebrating our children. Five or six little munchkins stood at the front of the church and said together, “Let’s pray” with more energy than I’ve ever heard in such an invitation. Then, in unison, we all said:

God, we’re sorry for the things we did that were wrong. Help us love one another better. Help us love you better. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Then God spoke in the children’s voices:

God’s love is so big! We are forgiven! We get to try again! Thanks be to God!

And everyone said, “Amen.”

When I was a kid, Samuel was one of my favorite biblical characters. I loved the story of him going to wake up Eli because he thought the old man was calling him. When I pictured the priest, I saw him like my father who woke up in the night whenever my brother or I made a noise and then, as long as he was awake, would wander down the hall to the bathroom from which one of us was exiting because that was why we had made noise to begin with. In my mind, Eli was standing in the middle of the hall in his boxer shorts, his hair standing up in all directions, squinting and saying, “What are you doing up?”

“You called me,” Samuel said.

“You’re dreaming,” said the old man. “Go back to bed.”

When it happened a second time, I imagined Eli was a bit more perturbed and a little less sleepy. When Samuel came down the hall the third time, Eli was awake enough to realize what was happening.

“Samuel, you’re hearing a voice that’s not mine. The next time you hear it, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.’” (I learned the story from the King James.)

When I animated the story in my mind, I never had a clear idea how God sounded. I never really bought into the booming bass voice that blows out the woofers. And, I guess, I never spent a lot of time trying to imagine how God sounded at all. But this morning when the children proclaimed, “We are forgiven,” I knew that’s what God sounded like. I really felt forgiven.

When I caught up on my reading tonight, I found this wonderful poem at Anchors and Masts:

God Says Yes To Me
Kaylin Haught
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes
About three lines into this wonderful poem, I could hear the kids reading the words. “Yes, yes, yes,” is best said by energetic kindergarteners, don’t you think? Alongside of how it sounds, the voice of God reads like a Mary Oliver poem, for one. One of my favorites is her work simply titled, “Poem”:
The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers,
ten toes,

shoulders, and all the rest
at night
in the black branches,
in the morning

in the blue branches
of the world.
It could float, of course,
but would rather

plumb rough matter.
Airy and shapeless thing,
it needs
the metaphor of the body,

lime and appetite,
the oceanic fluids;
it needs the body's world,

and imagination
and the dark hug of time,
and tangibility,

to be understood,
to be more than pure light
that burns
where no one is --

so it enters us --
in the morning
shines from brute comfort
like a stitch of lightning;

and at night
lights up the deep and wondrous
drownings of the body
like a star.
The watchword of the United Church of Christ is “God is Still Speaking.” What else would God be saying but, “Yes, yes, yes.”



Tess said...

I'm delighted you enjoyed the poem and I was very moved by how you describe the energy of the children, and their "Yes, yes, yes". To God and to life. I wonder when that unreservedness leaves us? No wonder children often don't want to grow up. I'm trying to learn to return to it.

beth said...

To which I also say, "Yes, yes, yes". Both poems were a balm to my sleepy-eyed reading this moring.

Hedwyg said...

Yes, yes, yes!!! Wonderful, Milton! It is amazing the places you can hear God's voice, and children speak with God's voice so clearly.

Peace and blessings,

Cecilia said...

Milton, I join the other commenters in saying "Yes, yes, yes". What a wonderful, heart-clenching post.

Pax, C.

towanda said...

That is a damn fine prayer of confession and assurance. Why do we try to make them so complicated?

And I think God sounds like Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock...

Kelly said...

Completely lovely! Thank you, once again you have blessed me (or perhaps God has used you to bless us all :-)