Like the Tooth Fairy, Sponge Bob, and Moses

 

When he asked me if I believe in God I got suspicious; like a sales pitch was coming on or something.  So I approached it slowly and cautiously like a rabbit in the jungle grass.

“Well, it’s something I am considering, “ I told him.  And wouldn’t you know it?  He let it lie.  He didn’t come at me with attempts to convince me or tell me what’s what.  I liked this.  So I decided to rustle the grass a bit, to see if the lion was sleeping.

Rustle-rustle.

“Mama says that God’s just a figure of our imagination,” I told him.  “Like the tooth fairy or Sponge Bob or Moses.”  He looked at me deeply then, like he was trying to decide if I was worth his time.

“Does she?” was all he said, still looking right into me.

The lion was awake, but seemed content enough to let a rabbit pass.  So I asked him, “Is she right, Father?  Is God just a Saturday morning cartoon dressed in a newspaper, like Mama says?  I mean, is he – or she – is God real? I think I really would like to know.  Does God hear me when I talk?  Because I talk to him sometimes, but Mama laughs, she calls me a sheep-follower, says I’m barkin’ up a plastic tree.  Mama says that I can pray all I want and it won’t make one spit of difference.  So, Father, please tell me.  If God is real then where is he?  Why can’t my Mama feel him?”

I can feel his stare burning into me right then.  The heat was enough to make me squeeze my eyes shut and hope for a breeze.  I imagined what his voice would sound like when it came.  Deep and powerful, like a garbage truck pulled up next to you at a stoplight with all your windows open.  I tried to feel my insides working; the blood pumping through my heart into my veins, and back again. I pretended that I had never opened my mouth, never said a word.

“It’s ok,” he hummed, sounding like a swirling fan in summer.  “It’s ok if your mama doesn’t know God.  God doesn’t mind.  God knows Mama.”

His deep red lips barely moved as he talked.  I wondered if he had even spoke at all.  Now I looked right at him with my squinty eyes, making sure no one was playin with me.  But I could see.  He knew.

I inhaled the light aiming through the open window.  I saw dust dancing in the glow.  I felt my toes, curled up inside my worn-out shoes.  And I quietly exhaled, slowly, “Thank you”.

-jrb

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