I met the Lord out on an abandoned path yesterday
and seeing Him, asked to chat a while.
“All right, child,” says He, “I have time.”
I open my mouth to speak but He holds a finger to my lips:
“Silence,” He says, “must come first. Silence, and the
ripening, and the opening, and then the asking.”
I am confused but I do not say anything and continue walking beside Him.
My arms cross instinctively over my chest and He smiles at me gently.
“We can’t walk and talk together when you stand like that.
It keeps me at a distance, builds a wall around you.”
I am about to argue back but He shakes his head. “Silence, remember?”
I am thinking of just leaving but something keeps me on the path.
I slip my hands into my pockets and we walk for a while.
There is nobody around us and I find that the quiet is nice -
it helps me to think about the questions I want to ask God when
He finally decides I can open my mouth and speak.
“Try not to think on the questions right now,” God says.
“Try instead to just be. Here, in the moment, with me.”
Forestalling my question, He explains, “Because.
You will always have the questions. But you won’t
always be able to go on a walk with me. And sometimes
I think you’ll find the questions are easier asked when
you take a bit of a break from them.”
I grit my teeth. “Are You always this complicated?”
God smiles. “I think I have more of a right to ask that question, actually.
And remember, you’re not supposed to be talking.”
I can’t help myself: “How come You don’t have to be silent then?”
He stops walking and looks at me. “A silent God – I was once. For three days
I was silent, two thousand years ago. That’s a long time to be silent when you’re God.
Now I’m almost always quiet but I still speak.” His gaze on me is steady.
I don’t think You would like it if I stopped speaking.”
I am stunned into silence. I am a little scared.
Who do I think I am, going on a walk with Yahweh?
I move to put a little space between us but then I feel a hand on the back of my head
and His voice whispers, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of me.”
And I can feel the warmth of that touch and the softness of those words
flow through my entire body, lift the chill of the night, the fright from my shoulders.
We keep walking. I am glad it is dark so the tears that sting my eyes are disguised.
We walk for quite a long time in silence. I try not to think, try to just remember
the touch of His hand, the voice of a Father.
Our feet meet the path in sync. We walk together, He and I.
After a while, I notice that He is not on the path anymore; I move over to let Him on.
He shakes His head. I say, “But You’re not on the path You told me to walk on.”
He says, “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.”
I don’t know what to say to this. I realize that He has not chided me for speaking and
decide this means that the time of silence is over.
But for some reason, I do not immediately ask Him my first question.
Instead, I look up to the sky and I say, “That’s a lot of stars.”
He beams. “Yes. Abraham thought so too. A star for every time he could
trust the promise I made to him.”
I don’t respond to this. Instead, I feel the air. “It seems like it’s going to rain tonight.
I hate the rain.” Why I am trying to antagonize God, I am not sure.
God smiles. “But what follows the rain?”
I hesitate. “A rainbow.”
“Of course a rainbow. Noah liked the rainbow I made him. He also liked what it meant.”
“That You hated the human race enough to kill 99% of it off?”
He angles a look at me that I can’t decipher. “That I loved it enough
to preserve 1% of it.”
After a moment of quiet, I blurt out, “Does it make you angry when I talk like this?”
God sighs. “Have you ever even read the book I left you? Jacob wrestled with me and
I blessed him. You’re wrestling with me now. Why would I be angry?”
He steps off the path and sits down on a bench near a large willow tree.
Baffled, unsure, I sit down next to Him.
“I like this tree,” God says conversationally. “It reminds me of the time I scared Moses.”
Completely bemused, I just give a small nod. God smiles fondly at the memory
He is obviously reliving. “Moses had a lot of questions for me too.
I told him the important thing – that it wasn’t about who he was,
it was about who he was with. And that I had made his mouth. Yes, trees always remind me of my promise to Moses.”
“You sure made a lot of promises to people.”
God smiles. “Yes. I did. A lot of them you inherited.”
When I do not speak, God continues to drive the lesson home a little more.
“I made Moses’s mouth. That means I made your mouth. Which means that I also made the words you will use your mouth to speak. Which means I made the questions you want to ask me.”
I avoid His keen gaze. “Which means You made the answers, too?”
He answers slowly, “Which means I love the questions in a way that you cannot. You love them the way you love mysteries, the way you feel secure having a bullet in your back pocket. You love them the way you fear them, because you’re scared to death
you might ask a question good enough to stump me.
To prove that I am less than what You yearn for me to be.”
I am practically speaking to the ground: “And will I?”
God turns so that He is facing me. He takes one of my hands in His own.
I can feel the hole. It unnerves me, the hole. It breaks me.
“I made the questions. To you, they are bullets; to me, they are stamps. Every question you ask me makes me smile because it proves that you are mine. It proves that I made you, and it makes me happy every time I get a letter from you. And if I made the questions, that means you can’t ask me any question I have not formed myself. There is no question you can ask me that I am not strong enough to take. The questions will never prove to you that I am less than what you yearn for me to be – they will only prove that I am infinitely more.”
God smiles at me, and I drink in the gentleness of it.
My heart is calmer than it has felt in days.
He looks at me. “So. About those questions you have then?”
The night is settling. The stars are bright, the rain is starting to fall and I know I will see a rainbow soon; the trees are waving in the wind and I am surrounded by symbols of the covenants that God has made. The fact that I am sitting down on a bench talking with Him is a covenant in of itself.
“You know,” I say with a smile of my own. “Can we just keep walking?”