How a Non-Deist Dances (or does the dishes) with God
When I was in the sixth grade, I saw an angel. At least, that’s what I called it. It was in the sky, it was alive, and not a bird or a plane or Superman. Not even a super-something else. It just was. And pretty as it just was. I told my mother who commemorated the experience with a poor concrete facsimile that confused me to no end. Because that wasn’t it and it wasn’t quite right in my adolescent mind. I don’t know if I ever thought again of that beautiful being I saw until we were reintroduced to each other in August 2015.
I never did see God, though. As an atheist it made complete sense. Out of mind, out of sight.
Until. Until one day in the spring of 2007 while I was washing dishes, I felt it. IT. The thing that other folks have described as God. This coalescing of something bigger than me but not definable, fully there and not-exactly-finite at the same time. Big, but fitting into the kitchen with me. I put down the salmon pan, walked to my then-husband in the living room, said out loud, “I just met God”, and walked back to the sink. Because, apparently God and other invisibles don’t do dishes. No other word was said. None needed to be. It was neither disturbing nor interesting. I didn’t ask any questions because none needed asking. I didn’t tell anyone else until years later.
I also didn’t tell anyone when God came back. I mean, what or who else could that big, infinite, yet finite beingness at the kitchen sink–again–possibly be? This time, again while my hands were in the suds, it said one thing: “How will you define yourself?” That’s it. No winning lottery numbers. No “Here, I’ll dry”. Just “How will you define yourself?”
Neither of these experiences were met with a response more than nonplussed curiosity. Nothing more than a measured, ‘huh’. Although at one point in my non-religious evolution I was taught that God was fearsome and to be feared, I didn’t believe he existed at all, especially in that way. In fact, I never believed in him as his existence was explained by anyone. Except when that it-that-can-be-nothing-else arrived, I knew. Just knew.
In that moment, I just knew that fear was unnecessary, that worship was unnecessary, reverence was unnecessary, and there was no room for confusion or revelation. It just was. Not from ‘above’ but not from within. Not from somewhere ‘else’ but certainly something else, something other than my mind’s capacity for imaginings or desire for a holy dishwashing experience. In fact, there was nothing particularly holy in the whole thing. The clouds didn’t part, angels didn’t sing and I didn’t zing with the energies I often feel while with things of the ecstatic nature. I didn’t drop to my knees as I’ve done in grief and gratitude; I just heard him. There was no reassurance, demand for obedience or plea for belief; just one simple question.
While I was as unconfused and unawed as the first encounter, the second annoyed me. I knew the who of it and the what of if but, A) I still had to dry the dishes and, B) I’ve got other shit going on so what the hell kind of question is that for God to ask someone like me?
I had no idea then that the me I was would shortly no longer be. I had no context for the question and no understanding that there was anything beyond a definition of “I’m just Ingrid.”
Ten years into thisness, I’m well into not-just-Ingrid and I still don’t know how to define myself. And, I still don’t define that God-thing the way others do. I thought if I’d define myself in my own way or the way I’ve been asked to the last year by those ones of Creation that got me into this mess, I’d know how to be this whatever-I-am. Notsomuch. God hasn’t come back to ‘splain all that, either. Or help with the dishes.