Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016

by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
Cartersville, Ga.
March 28, 2007
One Woman's World

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CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- If knowing God were as simple as reading a book from cover to cover and then declaring "OK, now know God," we could pass a law requiring everyone in the world to read that same book and then we'd all know God and live happily ever after. Sadly, it doesn't work that way.

Group A reads Book A; Group B reads Book B; and Group C reads Book C.

'At a church in the black section of town, the poet in me heard the pain of their singing, and the pleas in their prayers... .'

It doesn't stop there.

Inside Group A, Pastor X says "This is what God means in chapter two, verse six," and Minister Y says "No, that's not what God means," and then Reverend Z declares "You are both wrong. I know exactly what God means because I talk to him every night." Meanwhile, inside Group B all the men agree that only men can be rabbis; that only Group B can claim first rights to Abraham, and that a male god made all the Sarahs and Hagars to serve the needs of men.

Out of Group C comes sightless Mohammed worshippers who believe Mohammed's god orders them to rid the Earth of anyone who does not believe that God went on vacation and left Mohammed in charge of all the souls of all the peoples of the Earth.

And many other self-appointed saviors-of-souls arise and go forth and erect god-houses in their own names and many good souls follow them blindly = and they all fall in the ditch and sit there in the rain wondering what went wrong.

From all of the above groups emerge power-crazy men with god-complexes who shout to the sheep of the world, "Follow me, for I have seen the light! Follow me and I'll lead you straight through Heaven's Gate!"

What, then, is a sincere seeker to do?

What if we just be still, listen - and know? What if we forget the books, the mildewed cliques, the organized, boxed intolerance, and the ego-assumption that we alone have a ticket on the Best Boys' Bus bound for an exclusive heavenly gate with the name of our church on it?

What if, for the space of one breath, we sit very still and just listen instead of trying to cram God into pigeonholes with half a dozen different books all entitled The One True God Book?

And what if we worried more about loving God's world family - ourselves and all others - instead of running somewhere every Sunday morning to earn a few more gold stars from a personalized God?

What would happen if we decided it is better to feed one hungry child than it is to build a $19 million church building?

In Orlando several years ago, an already-large Baptist church decided to build God an $19 million church. One single Sunday they raised $6 million of that.

Meanwhile, a few blocks away, little black boys and girls were living out a painful belief: There is something wrong with me because most of the little white kids call me names and won't play with me. The mothers of these children went daily to the orange groves and to clean the homes of the owners of the orange groves; the mayor's house; and the commodes and halls of the hospitals.

I know, because I stole many of them away from those menial tasks, put white uniforms on them and sent them out as sitters into hospitals and nursing homes to care for the elderly. A few grew confident enough to get trained as nurses and, today, I'd bet there is at least one female doctor among the daughters of those hard-working, determined women.

My daughters and I occasionally attended a church in the black section of town, and the poet in me heard the pain of their singing, and the pleas in their prayers.

Unlike the gleaming, stained-glass windows and marbled halls of the Baptist and Catholic buildings, black church buildings were crudely fashioned, plain, simple. I remember attending the funeral of an employee, and walking behind the pall bearers as we all treaded carefully over sagging planks laid across the mud leading to the church door.

What if there were no churches, ornate or otherwise?

What if we all practiced hourly, "Let there be peace and let it begin with me."

And what if we spent each Sunday morning listening to that still, small voice within that is our spiritual connection to each other and to the god-stuff of the universe?

Finally, what if having recognized that divine connection, we spent the rest of the day walking in the simple knowledge that we need never again insult our universal parent by referring to ourselves as "sinner" because we now know God didn't make no ugly stuff?

If knowing God could happen from an exercise in reading a few passages from book A, B, C, or any other book, the world would be filled with instant joy and goodness.

But if these books divide us, might it not be time to throw away the books and the boxed religions in which we have placed our flimsy word-faiths?

Can we put God in a box or a building? Dare we try to define and label Something so grandly beyond our comprehension that we appear as foolish as the child who is trying to put all the grains of the ocean's sand into her tiny pail?

Feeling very small and frightened, we fashion faith-blankets that they might keep us warm. We name the blankets, build god-houses to sustain them, and tremble when we find how many are the blankets and houses of others - different colors and names that add to our childish fear of people who don't agree with us.

We go back to our books for reassurance that ours is the better blanket, never hearing God calling to us from the throat of the mocking bird, or looking at us through the eyes of the dark stranger who lives next door.

Be still and know that God is. Soulfully, we are made in that likeness.

I am That. You are That. He is That. She is That. They are That. The world is That.

Are we brave enough to be still, know, feel, believe and acknowledge that God is That? And "That" cannot be gleaned from the black words on the white pages of our many different books.

Elizabeth T. Andrews is a former columnist for the Orlando Sentinel now living in Cartersville, Ga., where she writes poetry. Write her at rainytreefoundation@yahoo.com or P.O. Box 816, Cartersville, GA 30120.

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