Just a glimpse, Moses: a clift in the rock here, a mountaintop there, and the rest is denial and longing. You have to stalk everything. Everything scatters and gathers; everything comes and goes like fish under a bridge. You have to stalk the spirit, too. You can wait forgetful anywhere, for anywhere is the way of his fleet passage, and hope to catch him by the tail and shout something in his ear before he wrests away. Or you can pursue him wherever you dare, risking the shrunken sinew in the hollow of the thigh; you can bang at the door all night till the innkeeper relents, if he ever relents; and you can wail till you're hoarse or worse the cry for incarnation always in John Knoepfle's poem: "and christ is red rover . . . and the children are calling / come over come over." I sit on a bridge as on Pisgah or Sinai, and I am both waiting becalmed in a clift of the rock and banging with all my will, calling like a child beating on a door: Come on out! . . . I know you're there.
Dillard wants to see God, the way Moses wanted to see God. I don't think she wants to see a rainbow or a flock of starlings or even a burning bush. She wants to see God. Period. God tells Moses that he can stand in a clift of rock on Mount Pisgah. God covers Moses' face and walks by. When He passes Moses, He removes His hand from Moses' face, and Moses sees the back parts of God. Moses never sees God's face, for that would kill Moses instantly. I imagine the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark, with Moses' face melting like butter in a frying pan. Of course, Dillard knows that God generally doesn't just go for casual strolls any more, not even on Mount Pisgah, so the chances of her seeing even God's back parts are very slim.
I didn't do anything last night but watch Dancing With the Stars. As I said in my previous posts, I wasn't feeling well. Today, I'm feeling a little better. More energy. However, I still have a persistent cough, and I can tell that tonight will not be that productive, either. I want to read books, write new poems. But, like Moses in the clift of the rock, I am seeing those plans pass by like the back parts of God.
I have been thinking a lot about God in the past week or so. More specifically, I've been thinking about God's plans for my life. I am a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. Let me give you an example from my life.
Ten or so years ago, when I was working for my sister at an outpatient surgery center, a friend of mine, Lydia, who's a registered nurse, came in for an interview with my sister. Lydia didn't think she stood a chance of getting the job. She had no experience as an operating room nurse. During the interview, my sister and my friend talked little about the actual job and a lot about hospice care. Lydia had recently held a position as a hospice nurse. My sister told her, "I don't know if I could do that job," or something like that.
Fast forward about ten years. Lydia has become one of my sister's best friends. My sister is at the University of Michigan, having been diagnosed with terminal brain lymphoma. Lydia, whom my sister hired for that operating room nurse job, travels downstate with me to visit my sister. And Lydia talks to my sister, talks to the doctors and nurses, talks to my family. Two days later, my sister in on her way home. Less than two weeks later, my sister dies at home under hospice care, surrounded by family and friends. Lydia was there at her bedside.
Like I said, everything happens for a reason. I believe I am meant to work at the surgery center again for some reason. I believe that God has a plan for me. I don't what it is. I can't see it. God has His hand over my eyes right now.
So, Saint Marty will have to be satisfied with peering through God's fingers, trying to get a glimpse of God's back parts.