Exodus 20, the 10 commandment chapter, begins:
And God spoke all these words…
Immediately followed by words direct from God’s mouth!
It’s so straightforward. So simple. So direct.
I’m sitting here jealous because in all of my days God hasn’t spoken to me like that. Even when I’ve felt enveloped in the light of God’s grace and care—one time I was driving out on I-95, going to see my friends for Thanksgiving dinner and the Indigo Girls were playing on the car CD and I felt such light surrounding me.
In that moment, did I feel that I was loved? Yes. I was seeing my friends that have been dear to me since I was in 3rd grade. Did the beautiful blue sky and the crisp fall air heal me? Yes. Was it the musical stylings of Amy and Emily, the Indigo Girls in all their glory? Yes.
And, it felt like more than that. It felt like being held in divine love.
There were no words. No words from God. No words at all. My contemplative friends would say: Of course there were no words. It’s post-words. It’s beyond words.
How I long for a simple word from God! My wife, Marta, is a minister in the United Church of Christ—the ones who—mostly recently—brought us the slogan: God is still speaking.
It’s true I suppose. God speaks in the trees. The aspens. The evergreens. The pines, the pines, where the sun never shines. The top of Monarch Mountain. The line where the trees just stop growing up on Pikes Peak. The sun and the moon. The face of my beloved. One Friday, there was a bird that convinced me the world made sense.
Recently, I walked into a room of a patient, an elderly woman, who was about to be liberated from her intubation, a terminal wean. The family wanted a chaplain bedside and I walked in, quietly, gently. A son whispering in his mother’s ear. And a daughter holding her hand, weeping. And the neighbor of this patient, just like that, started singing an old song from Mexico that they all loved. “Senor, Senor…” it began. It was plaintive and sad, dolorous. I had no idea what he was saying and didn’t need to. It was perfectly clear. They sang and sang.
I don’t know. Maybe it is silly to want a direct, simple, straightforward word. Maybe I’ll never be at the dining room table, saying, “And these are the words God said to me.” Maybe God only speaks through the loving neighbor who knows the song that is just right for the occasion, the Indigo Girls, the mountain and the bird in flight. That might be enough, and likely is.
But I’ll keep my heart and my ears open, just in case.
Exodus 20:1 Then God spoke all these words:
20:2 I am the LORD your God…