ESSAY

Week 4

God Is No Noun

by Glen Thomas Rideout, director of music, First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

god is no noun.

and certainly not an adjective. god is at least a verb,

and even that shrinks her.

 

god is not so much a woman

as she resides in the improbable hope of brown mothers. god is not so much a man

as he is at work in the memory of my grandfather’s laugh.

god is not trans.

god swims in the tears of the one who sees her real self,

at long last,

in the bathroom mirror.

 

god is not black; neither is he white.

god is wading in the contradiction of songs from slave shacks. and i have seen god in the alabaster smiles of children at play.

 

we’re getting michelangelo all wrong.

god is not the bearded one surrounded by angels, floating over the sistine. he is not adam with his muscled back pressing the earth.

no.

god is the closing inch of space between their reaching fingers.

 

don’t believe for a moment that god is catholic. for god’s sake, he isn’t even human.

have you heard the wood thrush when the sun glistens the huron? can you see the flowers, how they speak to bees without a word?

 

still, god is no spring blossom, no wood thrush. god is neither the sun nor the bee.

god is what you see in the blossom. god is when you hear the river

and suddenly discover how much of it is part of you.

to be clear, god is not you.

god is somewhere in the 14 billion years which have come to mean that you are. god is, after all, at least a verb.

she is neither pharaoh’s rod nor moses’ staff.

we must be the ones to cease our slavery.

she is not interested in blame, neither does she offer praise. truth, gratitude are ours to breathe.


she will not have your answers.

she is too large for answers.

she dances too wildly to be fastened to them, and answers are nouns anyway.

 

god is at least a verb,

twirling in the radiant reds of spring blossoms, singing in the rare silences between rapid opinions, attending the tears of dark-skinned deaths, learning in tiny, alabaster smiles.

god is waiting in the space between fingers that might connect. he is waiting for us

to stop naming her.

she is waiting for us to see all of him.

 

god is waiting to be un-shrunk

 

in conversation with

theresa rohlck,

brian minalga

christopher

michael petrie

lena cintron