Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2012.05.02 Blogoir: Gift, Miracle, Table

Miraculousness, my status at birth according to my mother,  made me too precious for Mom to hug much but not too precious to fuss over.  She defined miracle as something God does for you without you. I’d seen the picture of me inside of her and obviously she was a partner in the making of this miracle. I became suspicious. Either God or Mom was lying but what little child can choose between these two deities?

Being “a gift from God” had more promise for me as an identity than miracle. I preferred being a gift because a gift required intention and thoughtfulness, even love, while a miracle seemed like a flash-in-the-pan quick fix.  Also, no one in their right mind, even my theologically addled mother, would turn down a present as adorable as she said I was.

Preferences aside however, both spiritual ideas imparted to my young and curious mind a fascination with God. Who was this divine guy and how did He choose me for His gift?

At first I confused the whole masculine divinity idea with my father because Mom always called him  “my divine guy.”  It seemed she confused us both with God. It was easy to tell Dad wasn’t that heavenly. Someone as big as God who created the whole world and all that was therein (words I heard from a book)  probably didn’t drink martinis and nightly neglect the daughter who was a gift from God to him also. Wasn’t she?

My father held the magic glass. He twirled the stem between his thumb and forefinger. My mother had a different glass, tall with ice and dark fizzy liquid in it. Still, Daddy’s glass drew worship from both of them. What was wrong with my mother?  She had told me this was supposed to be the “children’s hour” like the poem said. Their elitist nightly ritual disgusted me.  It hurt, too.

I stomped away from the sanctuary of the parental Cocktail Hour leaving my parents to gaze at the long-stemmed triangle-shaped glass filled with clear liquid and three enormous green cross-eyed olives. Too big to float they nestled near the stem, their red eyes staring out at me in a menacing way—the evil olive eye.

I found refuge under our large dining room table with the cloth to the floor. I took off my slippers and left them outside the tablecloth—token good girlism.  Then I crawled in under the table,  sat cross-legged on the worn maroon carpet, and hiked my yellow nightie with the tiny flowers all over it up over my knees.

For company I took my three imaginary friends; for food I took some Ritz crackers I’d snitched from the cocktail tray. I lined the crackers up on one of the cross beams  and started my “sermon”— a lively one-way conversation with God who joined the group and, unlike my distracted friends,  was the only one who listened attentively and unflinchingly—and listened and listened at a time when no one else did. 

After I’d turned myself inside out chattering I was hungry and it was time for our meal. I ate my Ritz cracker and left the other four lined up on the cross beam. I felt sure my communicants would come for them after I went off to bed, but of course my mother would have retrieved them, knowing that my faith in my three imaginary friends depended on it. She never asked about the fourth. 

That was how I got my image of God, how I first knew for sure that I mattered no matter what, and how I invented a eucharist.  I felt this experience could be the greatest story ever told.

Some days I still wonder.