I’ve often had an adversarial relationship with God.
In 3rd grade, I cussed him out.
I’d heard my Grandpa use the phrase “God Dammit” with gusto and anger and ease. So I threw it at God myself. Alone. In my bedroom. The afternoon sun casting all that yellow light over the detritus on my floor: Holly Hobbie colorforms, snoopy stuff, cable knit knee socks with holes in the heels.
I cursed God while seated on my calico bedspread, and not for any particular reason. I tightened my eyes so shut that orange blazed instead of darkness. I was trying to draw him close. To pull God into that part of me that was open and worried and fervent by age nine.
But nothing happened. I was neither smote, nor replied to.
I know what I was doing. I needed God to be a real thing so badly that I was willing to offend him, or it, just to get some attention. And what I really wanted: proof.
I was never dragged to church as child. I’m not sure where my mom got the thick bible I paged through. Tissue covered the illustrations. Pages with a gilded edge. Instead, I was raised on astrology and Edgar Cayce. My grandmother talked about “walk-ins”—the souls who took a person’s body over to help out with the coming shift. She was prone to psychic dreams. Out-of-body experiences were routine conversation. One night, I huddled in the backseat while my aunt chased a UFO through the streets of Bellflower, California. The car stalled and the lit thing, whatever it was, got away.
My earliest memories are covered with an urge for God. It was the same hunger that attended all childhood mysteries. Those raptures of confusion. And then their demise when the truth pulled in. Like that time I was allowed, at a miniature golf course, to traverse a small hill up to a waiting castle. It looked so grand, yet as I approached it I witnessed continual shrinking. Once inside, I got that now familiar punch that comes with realization. Even in the dark I could see it. Unpainted plywood. Screws. This wasn’t the palace I had imagined at all.
My only miracle, the one I still depend on, happened over a ring my Grandma loaned me. Set with the birthstones of each of her six children. A line of gems across gold. I loved to slip it off her finger and onto mine. By fifth grade, it fit me.
So she let me take it, “to borrow.” Sure enough, I lost the thing.
I scoured our small home. Under beds. In every drawer. I combed all the inches in my room, hunted in the bathroom cupboards, scanned every niche of the linoleum. When it wasn’t in logic places, I searched in freakish, nonsensical corners and crannies. The top shelves of the kitchen. Behind the milk in the fridge.
Finally, I prayed. It was the ragged prayer of every desperate child: “Give me the ring. Give it to me and I’ll do anything. Anything.” I wept and beg-prayed until sleep hit like mercy.
In the morning, I stumbled the few steps from my bed to the bathroom. Groggy, downcast eyes.
And there it was.
Centered in the precise middle of the tiny bathroom floor.
The stab of a miracle pierced my gut. A vibration that started as a pang, then vibrated through my torso, like a shock of light. As if love could spike you.
I didn’t bother with any theories or rationalizations. I took it as a gift from God. I picked it up. Clutched it in my fist. I didn’t let go until I slipped it back onto my Grandmother’s finger.
I kept my miracle a secret. If there was a portal, or a way, or some entrance to a castle that was different than fake, then I vowed to find it. I wasn’t quite sure how to recreate the precise coordinates of a miracle. To get what I wanted when I needed it. The beg-pray, I learned, is not a sure thing.
I also couldn’t figure out what God now expected of me in return.
What was the “anything” I had promised? What did I owe?
Whatever forces bestowed that ring on a forlorn little seeker, must have known what would begin after that. Another search, a different kind, this one even more desperate.
I still look in obvious places and in the freakish ones–the ones beyond what’s possible. I’m foraging for miracles. For answers to mysteries and for their definition. For proof.
I want to feel that piercing again. That light that buzzes. That knowing.