Things Jesus Doesn’t Do

I am fixing my computer. I’ve issued a few “#$%$#%’s,” “GDs,” “F’s” and other words that color the rainbow. When I say “I’m” fixing my computer, I really mean someone I’m chatting with at Apple is so doing, as was the awesome guy with the Australian hat at the Genius Bar earlier today. He’s fixed my stuff before. I try to hide behind my long hair like Cousin It as the Genius does things like wipe the dust off my screen and do other things I should’ve done before going in.

I look at these Geniuses as if they’re demi-gods. I want to be like them, trying not to laugh at silly things people like me do. Right now, I’m being assured we’ll get this set today, but while we’re at it, lets just take a few hours to update my OS.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 5.35.07 PMI should have prayed. I’m peaking at my social media feed between chat bubbles which indicate a couple of good football games passed while I was in the Land of I Don’t Care. Every post said “Jesus be praised” or “Thank you God!” Some were multi-line prayers of gratitude.

I never thought to ask God or Jesus about the password I forgot or to help set up my Gmail after several errors appeared on my restored system. I should’ve. He apparently sides with football teams. My mom gets him* to do amazing things–besides the real big things that people need, he takes time to find her parking spaces when she asks nicely.

I think that he’s busy. I’d like to establish a list of things God and Jesus do not do:

1. Jesus doesn’t play or fix football, baseball, or hockey. I know this because the Whalers didn’t get to stay in Hartford, now the only thing Hartford has going for it is some awesome Jamaican food on Albany Ave.

2. I’m not sure God finds parking spaces unless people aren’t feeling well and need to park close. He finds them for my mom, because she does a lot of extra good work for him. Parking closer gives her more time to help others and not run errands. God does, however, curse people who use other people’s handicapped plates or keep theirs too long just to get a space.

3. God does not help students who didn’t study for tests. You can’t go around being all faithful saying “Who needs to study for O-Chem? I have Jesus.” I think that gets him mad.

4. Jesus does not start cars. Especially if you don’t change your oil or follow the maintenance schedule.

5. God doesn’t create spontaneous sales in grocery stores unless you’re especially faithful, down on your luck, and share food with others. Then, he will give you all the pasta or eggs you want.

6. He doesn’t make kids behave. I know this, though my son knows the difference between the “good Jesus Christ,” as in when people pray, and the “bad Jesus Christ,” as in when someone (not me) says JESUS CHRIST!  I wish JC would take a moment, get rid of free will and make kids obey. Free will’s overrated. In any case, it shouldn’t be installed until kids turn 18. Or 21. Or when they move out of the house.

7. Jesus doesn’t get kids into college or get them financial aid. It’d be nice. Refer to #3.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 5.38.33 PMIf you want to know what God and his associates really do, take a look outside first thing in the morning. You’ll see the sun peek over the horizon, hear the beauty of the birds singing a song, and feel the cool air on your face. You may even wish for the first flakes of winter snow. You’ll look into the face of your child or your other loved ones, and you’ll take a step or two toward beginning your day, which you can, because you’re alive, well, and graced by the power to live, impacting the world in an amazing and unforgettable way. God and the universe hope you do.

That’s what God does. Gives you the tools. The rest is all you. You’ll be great. Magic. A force to be reckoned with. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

Now, if I could only fix this Mac. Jesus?


*I chose the pronoun “he” fully realizing God transcends gender.

[Image: Buddy Christ from Dogma and “Birds at Sunrise, Sam Stearman]


Be a Simple Man

I was running the other day—disobeying myself since I’m taking a short hiatus from running, but I promised myself “just a quick mile.” Of course it’s never quick or a mile. Somewhere around mile five a song kicked in.  Not even sure how it made my playlist, because it’s certainly not a running song. But every time I hear it, it takes me back to another world.

I remember the first time I heard it—heard, not just listened. I really heard the words.

I was in the North End of Hartford near the “Wayless Convenience Store.” I loved that name. I wasn’t sure if the prices were lower, the layout was bad, whether they had an unfriendly staff, or perhaps it was inconvenient to get shot shortcutting through that particular neighborhood–dangerous at the time–rather than investing the time to go all the way around.

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 5.56.46 AMIt was the kind of neighborhood I frequented often working on the road—complete with noodle shops, Jamaican food, gang members with Rottweilers, gunshots popping off in the distance. I’d give an upward nod to the Blue Guys and Red Guys on their respective corners; half were in wheelchairs because they succumbed to violence–Hartford was tough at the time. They probably didn’t have the money to go to Good Guy Shooting School. Only good guys shoot straight—I know this from watching Walker, Texas Ranger. Bad guys can’t hit the side of a barn with a 50 caliber at point-blank range. That’s why I was never particularly terrified at shots in the distance. I just imagined they were firecrackers.

I would walk the block or two rather than drive my branded corporate Ford into the neighborhoods.  No one responded well to branded corporate Fords, though a young-looking white girl with a clipboard seemed too out-of-place to shoot. A curiosity. Everyone always asked me if I was a social worker. Or a cop.

I’d say, “No. Insurance. I need Mr. So-and-So to make sure he’s okay. And bring him a check.” That was invariably the start of a fine relationship. If I tried to speak in the language at hand–even better. I met a lot of good people that way. No one really wants to live in a tough neighborhood–the neighborhood where the bus routes keep you in and keep the Other Half politely away so they don’t have to see how people must live to survive–they can eat dinner peacefully in front of the news and speculate about the need for welfare reform. The neighborhood with the school with the leaky roof that no one cares to fix where teachers don’t really want to teach if they can possibly get a job at the Other School. The project doors that never close right–it’s 120 degrees in the summer and 150 in the winter, because the heat cranks high as you put it, even with the windows cracked and the doors half-open. They’d like to be somewhere else, too. They’re pretending the gunshots are fireworks just the same as me.

But that was the setting when I heard that song. It came on WHCN out of Hartford, one of our last indie radio stations at the time, which we loved because we’d blow out of our new corporate careers on a Friday and go to Hawaiian Shirt Friday, my friend and I.  I had a crush on the DJ. He liked my friend. That’s generally the way things worked through most of my teens and twenties. It’s all water under the bridge now. We had fun.

The song came on. I listened.  And when I hear it now, it still stays a while.

The beauty of that song, the simplicity. The words.  They remind me every time that the only thing that matters is love, simplicity, honesty, truth. That a lot of our problems are of our own manufacture. Relationship problems, business problems, problems with life–Skynyrd says it well, “Troubles will come–they will pass.”

Funny–these reminders come in every shape, size, and form. A butterfly. A friend’s book. A conversation. A Pad Thai dinner. A single word email. And sometimes, when you least expect it, even a Southern Rock band.