Our beating hearts

We sat in a circle, debating, talking, philosophizing. We were nameless strangers, together by chance, with the rare opportunity to discuss politics and religion and morality and money without making our mothers cry. One spoke up and said, by the way I think homosexuality is a choice and if homosexuals are discriminated against they get what they deserve because god doesn’t approve of that. And the girl on the left visibly shuddered, she had tears in her eye and I could feel her story moaning.

I’m not a relativist, but I am trained to understand cultural context and know that the one who spoke up  is a product of socialization and environment and personal struggles, just as the girl on the left is. But maybe because I don’t know the same God, I can’t help myself and voice my disagreement. (I’m never as articulate in these moments as I want to be. Afterwards, I think of all the things I should have mentioned, the big words and short sentences I should have used).

The girl on the left’s teary eyes find mine and I hope it means she knows I am forever on her side.

Later, after we had talked our tongues into exhaustion and the tension had become thick like American arteries and we are gathering our things, readying for our different realities, the one who first spoke up eyes the notebook I chronically scribble thoughts in: can I take a copy of your notes? I’m surprised and maybe flattered? I look at my notebook, a handmade, pretentious thing with lines that my pen can never follow — at the doodles and love poems to lunch I had written next to quotes and BIG ideas from our meeting. I feel naked and exposed.

I tear the page out and when I hand it over our fingers brush, and I hope it means we are on the same side.

For some reason this is the most alive I have felt in ages. Someone I fundamentally disagree with on at least seventeen topics has just collected a small piece of who I am. What happens with that piece is none of my business, but maybe our stories will change each other’s. There is power in colliding narratives. I walk away relishing in our vulnerability. To be able to disagree and still see each other’s beating hearts gives me hope for humanity.

Dear,

I need a God that I can get behind

So when I look into the eyes of devastation, I can say “God loves you” and won’t feel like i’m lying

what kind of love lets humans have their way?

I don’t like to say “i’m praying for you” because its not true

but also because my prayers are so flaccid

I talk to God

ask Him every question a good journalist would. or yell at him really quietly so he doesn’t smite me

 

 

either way He pleads the fifth

and I feel my cheeks warm because either i’m insane for believing or i’ve been unfaithful

Sometimes, when i’m desperate, I ask him for favors, usually world peace, and this makes me feel better

I repent

Then I open my eyes and He’s not there

because i’m blind? or a raving lunatic?

Sometimes I stumble across something of the Transcendent and I feel God flick my bones

an empty street

my nephew’s laugh

a summer thunderstorm

my father’s wrinkled hands

the smell of pine trees

a vulnerable body

lukewarm tea

Then I know.

But if there is Love behind this crazy mess how can He just sit there while we shatter

I call my mother and the earth mama

I call God dear and sometimes mystery man

I would never call my mama a bad name

I don’t think God’s a man

But men have hurt me and loved me and understood me better than most other genders so it seems reasonable

God, if you’re listening–

I wonder how many times that’s been said–

I can’t help but believe in you

but I don’t know how to know you

how to be okay with your tolerance

Teach me your ways

or better yet,

 

change them.