I’m old, and I have consulted many traditions that claim to lead people to God. Some by my choice, others by coercion. Breath control. Reverence. Yoga. Mormonism. Humility. Television evangelists. Sacrifice. And so on.
I found God today. On YouTube.
I began with one of my favorite hymns by Neil Young. Dad, I’m a lot like you were. No more resentment or fear. Those behaviors ruled my life for a long time. I held dad in contempt. No more. I’m a lot like you.
Then I went to Billy Joel who I cast in the role of speaking for God. Please forgive me, Billy. I want you Just the Way You Are. I was taught that God is arrogant. In this song God is our eager friend, profoundly interested in being our dear friend. Or at least, that is how I interpret it. May Billy forgive me for my interpretation of your intentions.
And then to Art Garfunkel and Bridge Over Troubled Water. If life is not troubled water I don’t know what is.
And the films. Take Paul Newman and Bruce Willis in Nobody’s Fool. Does it get more sacred? I think not. Paul nourishes friendship and loyalty in the most wonderful way.
When tears are in your eyes I will dry them all. —Art Garfunkel
What I learned is that God is in the face of the people we notice. All of them, including the people on the median strips hoping for a meal. And our cat, and the dog. God is not aloof and angry, God reaches out to us with the same enthusiasm that we reach out. God wants us at least as much as we want God. Probably more. Nay, certainly more.
In African Queen Humphrey Bogart plays a loser, an alcoholic, a no account. He has courage, and a heart of gold, and he demonstrates those virtues by saving Katherine Hepburn from the World War II German army. That is what God wants all of us to know about ourselves. We have something to offer. We are wonderful. We triumph over amazing obstacles. We are loyal. Fear is not a barrier.
I was taught for many years that I was marginal, and that I might, with great dedication, be forgiven, but not to count on anything. I was taught nothing about the mutual relationship of admiration that I have with the Universe. I have learned something since, and I am profoundly grateful.