Wednesday, February 07, 2007

God on the Glacier

This writing about God and creation is tricky stuff. How can I describe walking on the Mendenhall Glacier? Outfitted in snowsuit, helmet, gloves, boots and crampons, miniscule against the enormity of the Juneau ice field, traveling between razor sharp walls of ice striated blue. It felt right to be dwarfed in this alien world, home to only an ice flea, a pollen and one fungus. How can I tell you that I felt surrounded by God that afternoon, that I couldn’t stop smiling, that every five seconds I turned to my husband and said, “This is incredible” or “This is amazing”?

I’m used to writing about smaller things, more concrete things. McDonald’s Big Mac’s, my VIP’s waitress uniform, the Glide’er Inn and Stegen’s Garage on PCH where I grew up. My writing instructor calls it status detail and it's my strength.

But how do you do that with God? I made the mistake of describing my first awareness of God, looking at the mountain ridges in Big Bear to Crayola crayons with their shades of green and triangle points rising in rows from the box. It read hokey, and cutesy, and too too. You can’t capture God in status detail even in a 64 pack.

When I have felt God, it hasn’t been benign as a coloring page to post on the fridge. It’s been a hand sliding down my throat, constricting my heart, God invading, permeating awareness, marking me, leaving a scar, something to stroke absent mindedly after the recovery, the ridge on my skin, the line across my rib, raised and pocked at the edges. Something that throbs when it rains, something that aches, causes me to hobble when I first get up.

That’s what writing about God should do––threaten to knock us out of place. I pray for the words.

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