The title above is a quote from the movie Ladyhawke and inspired this post.
I first met God under the carport of my parent’s house in Alton, Texas. I think it was the summer after I started elementary school. My parent’s house is a small wooden frame house and the car port was just 2 posts holding up a some old used rusty pieces of corrugated aluminum nailed to some flimsy 2 by 4’s. But it was good enough for Brother Namken. Every other Sunday he would bring his Baptist ministry to our small car port and anywhere from 10-20 sinners would show up and worship. I liked watching them. They ate and sang and prayed for miracles. To this day I don’t know if any of their prayers were answered, but I believe with all my heart that it was a miracle that the roof of our car port did not fall on their heads and kill them all.
The day I met God I was on my knees holding my little hands together in prayer and asking him to come into my heart. My elbows were propped up against the seat of an old aluminum fold-up chair and my hands were clasped together hard enough that my knuckles were turning white. My head was down, eyes closed, heart pounding. I was talking to God. I asked him to help me and my family. To help us have enough food to eat and clothes to wear and to help all the little children of the world have food and clothes too. I then thought about it for a bit and then asked for money so I could buy some candies from my tio Arturo’s store. I thought about it some more and then asked God to burn down Alton Elementary School because I did not want to go back to a school that had a pigeon as their mascot and that had a mean nurse’s aide. I asked him in particular to make sure that the mean nurse’s aide be there in the school when the fire started. She wasn’t a nice lady. On the first day of first grade I peed in my shorts and I cried all day like a baby. I got sent to the nurse’s office because they were supplied with all sizes of shorts for kids just like me who had accidents. The mean nurse’s aide told me to make sure and bring the shorts back the next day or she would send a policeman to my house to arrest my parents. Yeah, she could stay in the fire, if that was okay with God.
As is often the case in these matters, God had other plans. Just as I made that last request I felt one of the most excruciating pains I have ever felt in my life! Ever! I tried to get up but fell to my knees in pain. My mom picked me up and rushed me into the house and straight to the bathroom. I ripped off my shorts and found that I was covered in big red ants. One of them, sent by God I was sure, bit in to my left testicle and would not let go. My mom took off all my clothes and put me in the shower. I was sure I was going to die. I know I passed out at some point. No one else was bitten by an ant that day. I had gone too far. My relationship with God had gotten off to a very bad start. It would be a while before I would talk to him again. I never returned the shorts the nurse’s aide loaned me. For the next few months I killed every red ant I saw.
Brother Namken and his family continued to come to our car port on and off over the next couple of years, in between his missionary trips to Mexico. Though I did not dare fall on my knees again, I did enjoy his visits. I liked watching him preach. Even better I liked watching our neighbors react to him. Every once in a while someone would fall to the ground because they were “thrown by the spirit”. Sometimes the spirit would throw them hard enough to draw blood and once the spirit knocked out an old lady’s tooth. Those things scared me. Everyone else seemed happy about it though. The person who got their ass handed to them by the spirit was often congratulated or praised. I did not understand what was going on. And where the hell did all the ants go? People could fall to the floor and lie there for awhile and not get a single red ant on them. My name was still on a list somewhere, I was sure of it. Those were strange times.
As Brother Namken’s visits waned we started going to a local Baptist church called El Templo Biblico. A preacher by the name of Jesse ran that church. He was great. The church was really just an old wood framed house with a steeple on it. But it beat my parent’s car port any day. The only problem was that Jesse spoke mostly Spanish and by that time the Spanish language was being successfully beaten from my brain by those white little old ladies at Alton Elementary School (God bless them). I did not understand much. Another thing that bothered me was that he cried at the end of almost every sermon. I can handle that now as an adult but for a little kid that was rough. By the end of every sermon he was looking up and talking to God with tears in his eyes. I felt that I should do the same, but didn’t know what to cry about.
Finally we ended up at a El Mesias Methodist church in Mission, Texas. I don’t know how we found that church but it is farther than we had ever traveled to go to a church. At last a church with tall ceilings and real church benches! There was a huge cross at the alter, big bright lights hanging from the ceiling and stained glass windows. A real church! And it was in English! There was even good singing. Not that old fashion stuff with verse after verse of hallelujahs and amens. This was High School Musical singing. I really liked that church.
One day I was sitting at church with my mom. The preacher was giving his sermon and I was just sitting there all bored. The preacher then asked everyone to stand up to pray. During the prayer a young girl in the front benches collapsed. No one was alarmed because it was one of those “thrown by the spirit” episodes. After the prayer the girl was assisted back onto the bench. My mom leaned over and told me that everyone in that girls family has been thrown by the spirit at one time or another. I responded, “Does epilepsy run in families?” She slapped me across the back of the head and told me to keep quiet. I was only 10 or 11 and had just read about epilepsy in one of my mother’s medical books. She had just studied to become a nurse. I don’t see why she didn’t make the connection too. I wondered how she ever passed her test.
Once I left the house I stopped going to church. Most of us do.
For the next several years I spoke to God at the same time and places that all of you did. I spoke to him right before both my parent’s died and not much after. I spoke to him when my kids got real sick and ended up in the hospital. And I spoke to him when I saw death coming around the corner for me. At least once or twice a year I speak to him when I wake up with a mouth full of stomach acid that somehow gets sucked into my lungs during my sleep. When that happens God and I will enter into some serious negotiations for about 3 or 4 hours, after which he finally gives in and lets me live.
There are very smart people out there who don’t believe in God. I figure that that has to mean something – other than that they are going straight to hell. What that is I don’t know. Some people are too full of their own wisdom to have room for anyone else’s, much less God’s. Even if they believed in God they would pick and choose the things they want to believe about God to fit their own wants. If God does exist I’m sure it doesn’t work that way. He either exists or he doesn’t. And if he does, and he has a set of rules, then they are his rules and not yours. What you choose to believe has little bearing on what is true. Facts, after all, are stubborn things ( I have no idea where I stole that from).
Over the years I have learned as much as I can from other people of all religions and non-religions. I have studied their teachings (and their non-teachings, lol). The people have one thing in common. They are all searching. Even those that have found something are still searching. Not all are searching for the same thing though. Some search for more truth, some for redemption, others for peace, and some don’t know what they are still searching for. But they all carry on. I find that hopeful.
The other day I read a book about the Higgs-Boson particle, other wise known as the “God Particle”. It took me 3 weeks to get through this book because I had to stop every once in a while to take blood thinners so I would not have a stroke. It was that hard to understand. The theory is that there exists a particle that is so basic that everything that Is exists through it and is acted upon by it. It is the one thing that everything else is based on. And once they (the guys with the glasses and pocket protectors) find it and know how it acts, then they will one day know everything. But, just like everyone else, they are still searching. God bless them.
I realize as I get older that there isn’t much that has happened to me that I didn’t have coming. I accept that. I have done wrong. My actions have hurt people. And though I know I have done so much good too,- I realize that good can never even out bad. The bad exists separate and apart from any good I could ever do and no amount of good will negate it. There are many good things that have happened to me. I don’t know why that is either. I am not so full of myself as to believe that I am the center of anything. Life exists and goes on apart from anything I am. I know that. I don’t like it, but I know it. Well…
I am creeping up in age now. Gone are the days that I blame God for red ants, bad people, or dying parents. Nor do I blame unexplained seizures in church on epilepsy either. I have learned things now that I could never come close to explaining on this page, and some I wouldn’t want to. But mostly I have learned that the journey is mine. And, like it or not, your search for God is your journey too. I don’t care what religion you are or even if you are not of any religion, or if you claim to be agnostic or atheist. There is a journey to make, of that I have no doubt. You are making that journey right now…have a good one.