I used to be uncomfortable using the word god, the name ‘God’. I mean is God really his name or just some title someone bestowed long ago because they couldn’t pronounce their real one? It’s like some folks to do that; turn Shanequa into Shorty perhaps because it’s wonder and marvelousness is too much to behold or believe all that god’s graciousness can be held in one Black body, too much to say in one breath.
When god first showed up in my world in a noticeable way, I didn’t believe. He either did existed or didn’t and who was I to know or, frankly, care. Until he showed up at the kitchen sink. Twice, neither time staying long enough to help with the job at hand and once asking a rude-ass question that still doesn’t have an answer 14 years later. Once you've been interrupted by God you might ignore or choose not to believe. Twice? You can't unbelieve what you've now seen and know. Kind of like UFOs and bad toupees.
I’ve not bothered to talk about him and her and how they show up as Brahman, a blue monkey, Nigerian Queen, Lucille Clifton and, every now and again as a Blue Man (because someone has got to have a sense of humor in all this). Two weeks ago it was as a being who brought me a glass of wine in that just-lightening hour of the morning, not to encourage a morning tipple but acknowledging that the judgments around worthiness (or wine or rightness and wrongness) or any ‘other’ bound up in woefully rigid structures were no concern of his and I ought not to mind, either.
A few days later He showed up as a woman at a courthouse needing help navigating the byzantine system that her grandchild was caught up in. I, being the eavesdropper I am, said to her ,"I used to work in the system and I can help." When I looked at her I knew exactly who she was in waking life and who was animating through her in the dream. Oh. Oh shit!
That’ll make you sit up and pay attention. I walked with her to the courtroom where she was certain the judge would let her baby out of jail if I would speak on his behalf. I sat down in the gallery and began telling the story about how I knew this lady and her grandbaby.
In waking life, a lifetime ago, I was introduced to her grandson by a judge. “Will you create a juvenile probation program for me,” actually meant “I’m sending a kid across the street to you right now” and ten minutes later this kid sat down in front of my desk. He looked at me and I looked at him hoping he couldn’t see the color commentary with a judge going on behind my eyes. I was, however, apparently feeling on-the-spot creative, some might say ‘in the flow’, and told him he needed to write his obituary for me and bring it the following afternoon. He needed to write what a don’t-know-this-kid writer would say if he were to die that day.
He did and was unembarrassed by the depth of himself he couldn’t see. This young man then wrote another obituary from the perspective from a community as if he’d lived to be a grandfather. He did and in the process of this young man trusting enough to bear himself to me, I fell in love. With him, his grandmother and the way we’d been brought together. I’d have lost my job if my boss had known that my relationship with his was colored outside the lines of ‘probation officer and delinquent’ rules of engagement. Blessedly, beyond those lines the relationship continued after I left the court.
The story I shared in the dream-courtroom was about his grandmother calling me at the office while she was chasing this half-grown man around the apartment with a broom. While holding the phone in the other hand, she hollered, ‘He’s your child now!’ I can’t remember the transgression that pushed her to that ‘I’m so done with this boy’ state but she needed space from his shenanigans and he needed space between his butt and a broom. I’m fairly certain she thought he’d done a thing that could get him locked up but that wasn’t an option. In the moment, though, what was revealed was a trust and love and shared responsibility that is usually not considered the purview of the court. Its structure is built on power, punishment and judgment and doesn’t leave room for camping out in the PO’s guest room until cooler minds prevail and the broom is back in the closet.
When I recounted the story in dream-court, the entire gallery cracked up (as has every audience I’ve told) at the visual of an out-of-patience grandmother chasing a cold-busted kid while holding a broom in one hand and phone in the other! We laughed and I woke up knowing this now all-grow’d man was in trouble.
For days, I considered whether or not to reach out while racking my brain to come up with her name. I could remember her first name or his last name and knew they didn’t share it and couldn’t begin any search without both. Then, while minding other business her last name ran through my head like a song and I knew who the singer was. Facebook closed the gap when I found her in less than 10 seconds and photos of him in less than thirty. Then I had to reconsider whether or not I was going to reach out.
Usually when folks enter my dreams or I’m shown in vision to reach out to them, I’m ignored when I do so and I didn’t want to be ignored again. Faith and belief are funny things and a relationship that hadn’t been for fifteen years makes for a lot of change. I did know that seeing his aliveness in a photograph brought me joy I’ve not felt in years. “He’s alive! He.is.ALIVE!” I said it out loud and internally as I danced around the room.
For those of you who don’t know, when god has got something to say through you and you don’t hop on it, he’s going to have something to say about that, too. The night before I finally reached out via Facebook, he showed up again. Standing at the foot of my bed, suited up this time as someone somewhat larger than an offensive lineman wearing a Raiders jersey (true stuff, this) he had his hand on this young man’s shoulder and the message couldn’t have been more clear. Get to him now. Not later, not in your own time, not when you have found your courage around the fear of getting rejected again. Now.
Since the last time I’d seen this young man, he’d been shot in the stomach and survived. Then later, beaten nearly to death and then left to die at a bus stop. He’d been in and out of homelessness, mental illness and the courts but this time the trouble wasn’t the law. This time the trouble was that he didn’t want to be here so he prayed for help. And was heard.
For years I’ve been brought prayers and been sent to answer them. This time was different only in that, this time, there was a prior relationship, a loving one. And The Loving One delivered him to me in dream, using the language I know well. His and mine.
I doubt. A lot. I generally don’t bother to question any more. What’s not known remains that way until it is revealed. I was reconnected with young person in the most magical and loving way that exists: delivered from the One hand into the life of another. And all doubt left. For a time. It’ll be back. That’s what faith does, comes and goes. Truth, though, does not. Truth moves us from distrust to bringing us back to solid ground; for me reminding me to know what I am and trust what I know. Truth returns me, us to love.
Truth and love choose to wear a Raiders jersey, black skin, and stand in the firmness of infinity. They’re embodied by the all grow’d up ones we can’t stop calling kiddo, the grandmothers whose loving work we can’t see, those we’ve bordered ourselves from and those we can but won’t see.
We now talk nearly every day, this kiddo and I. We talk as if we’ve been woven together the entire 15 years we’ve been apart. Prayer and god and the Raiders aren’t part of our conversations but wounded hearts are, though we don’t call them by their name. We merely walk together; walk the talk together. One day at a time. One prayer at a time. One love all the time.