These past three days, waking up and falling in love with God have looked smaller than I thought. I don’t know why or how, I dismiss the glory in the smallness when it comes to loving God. I know, too, that God is no man or woman, no needy being demanding my love; and still, I wonder.
I wonder if loving God, much of the time, is not that unlike how we love each other the best - the old ‘quality’ versus ‘quantity’ time adage. If God, perhaps, would take a dozen small moments of being seen throughout the day, truly seen and loved for who he* is, to one large block of scheduled, unmemorable time; one moment undifferentiated from the next.
And so, falling in love with God may look like Ricardo and I lingering for over an hour at the dinner table, relishing our orange peppers stuffed with rice, beans, steak and salsa. Him, leaning back in storytelling mode; me, leaning in with elbows propped, learning things about his family, their life in Mexico, for the first time. Eyes fixed on his face, ears perked, expressing curiosity and delight, fully engaged.
And falling in love with God may look like the young man with the scruffy beard that comes through the line sometimes in the morning, asking for a cup of hot water or a refill of brewed coffee. Staring into his eyes, I see flecks of gold and my heart warms to his smile as I tell him I saw him downtown the other day, feeding saltines to a flock of pigeons, a tender care reflected on his face. This man who lives outdoors, loving on these birds too ‘common’ to garner any attention from most of us passing by - for a moment my heart swells.
Maybe, too, it’s the energy to head from work on the bus to visit several ladies I love in a nursing home. I have not seen them in over a month because I have been too tired, running on empty most days. But this day, I feel alive. I sit with each of them and look into their eyes and I picture God in the room, sitting beside their beds and listening deeper than words. I am beaming with joy and I leave even more full than when I arrived, and there is no explanation for this, except one.
And falling in love also looks like my commute home last night. I forgo the bus ride and walk up the hill from the nursing home instead, making my way to the bike path at the start of the bridge, where I break into a run. The sun warms my skin, even as the air remains cool, and I run the length of the bridge, across the waters I swam several weeks ago. I can feel my achilles tendon, a little stiff, and I push aside all nervous thoughts but this: Look at me, God. I am running. Though my legs are somewhat stiff and tired, I strain to keep up with them. They are like two wild stallions set loose, and I am barely breathing hard. I’m sure I’m grinning like a girl in love as the cyclists and cars go whizzing past, and in my heart I’m gushing, Thank you thank you thank you. It’s only a mile and a half, but it may as well be a marathon.
How many marathons would I trade, I wonder, for this mile and a half of running on my still-healing legs with such raw gratitude? Maybe this, then, is what waking up and falling in love with God is really like - these short distances completed with great joy and great grace, with keen awareness of the touch of divine love upon a life; the savoring of each person, each gift; each step taken, even on feeble legs, in trust.
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*I know I just said that God is neither a man or a woman, so I’m not trying to contradict myself. I choose “he” for the sake of ease of language, and because I am personally comfortable using “he” to refer to God without believing this limits God to a specific gender, though I understand someone could just as easily use “she.”