Monday, March 12, 2018

Toothless God Sightings

Yesterday, I went early to the Publix grocery store. I wanted to get in and out, since I needed to get ready for church.  But I didn't want to get back from church with no food in the house and have to face Sunday crowds at the grocery store.

At the deli section I saw a the toothless older man using his wheelchair for both a walker and a shopping cart. I assumed that he was one of the homeless population that frequents that Publix, the ones who are mentally unbalanced from life on the streets.  He caught up with me in the produce department.  He gestured to a display and said, "Isn't it all beautiful?"  I said yes and hurried on.

I was behind him in the checkout line. He said, "I'm going to see 'A Wrinkle in Time.' I can't wait to see that movie."

I asked if he had read the book. He said, "Oprah!  She was just glowing in that movie.  I wish she would run for president."

The cashier asked if he wanted to make a donation to the hunger organization, and he handed her a dollar.  We talked about the Saint Patrick's Day parade scheduled for the afternoon, which he was thinking of skipping because of the threat of rain. 

I no longer saw him as mentally ill, although I think he wants to see "A Wrinkle in Time" because of his love of Oprah, not because of his love of L'Engle.

It was only later that I thought of him as something more holy.  My pastor always asks for our God sightings, and my fellow congregants usually talk about money coming just in time to pay a bill or help when their car broke down.  What would they have said if I mentioned this toothless man as proof of God?

I wouldn't have had time to explain it the way that I wanted.  I'd have wanted to explain how my encounters with the man reminded me of my judgmental tendencies.  I'd have wanted to explain how seeing the man give a dollar reminded me of grace and generosity and served as admonishment.

But I've also been thinking of our view of God and Jesus.  If God came back to us in a physical form, most of us expect some opening in the sky, with angels and light and things that would both terrify us and lift us up.  The examples that we have in our Judeo-Christian sacred texts tell us that God will often appear in forms where we won't recognize the Divine among us.

Like a toothless, probably homeless, older man in the grocery store.

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