Burning for you

The data are winning; I am ill. Now that I’m running a fever, I can no longer push off my vague sense of not-right-ness…

I am genuinely Not Right. The ripples that chase across my body like sun and cloud reflected in a swift stream belong to a purpose—that of burning off whatever’s ailing me. I’m not making this up!

(My intellect continues to suspect this is a plot cooked up by my body to further evade scholastic reckoning. Both my midterms are Tuesday, you see, so Intellect finds this awfully con-ven-i-ent.)

Amusingly enough, I’m nevertheless back in love with my school-texts, particularly my theology books. There’s been something in the last couple of days—the wash of words through my blurred brain, perhaps?—that’s reminded me of when, as a college sophomore, I read Martin Buber’s I and Thou (Ich und Du) over the summer.

Theologian, philosopher, the line is very thin between them… and if you’ve encountered one German of the type, you’ll know the flavor of my summer that year. I usually pin it all on my working with pre-K four-year-olds; despite extensive experience, that age group is not part of my calling. I think the deep intellectual dive helped me sustain equilibrium in the near-chaos of my days.

Other than that, I haven’t since understood why I persevered with that particular book. I picked up a copy later to re-read, and found it impenetrable.

What I notice today, though, is that I love to read theology’s stories of once-upon-a-time, and once-upon-yet-to-come. Theologians at their most glorious ask: what is it that makes God, God? What is it that makes us humans God’s treasures? When God closes eyes or looks through to see us as God properly intended, what does God see?

Beloved, our God’s name is a verb, Am/Be/Was/Will Be perennially looped back on self in a way that English doesn’t handle well. If God is verb, then it makes sense that we made-in-God’s-image are human beings, that are also human doings, perennially in motion. 

If we experience God as Trinity, which there are excellent time-halloweded cases for, then God is related/connected as God… and equally related and connected to us.

Buber’s most famous insight, the one of the book-title, is that God in right (good/proper/beautiful) relationship with us is intimately connected. Like the closest friend, warmest parent, most beloved lover: English doesn’t keep an ‘intimate you’ form anymore, but if it did, this would be the place to use it.

In the middle of realizing the repercussions of not taking the limits of my teaching-calling seriously—those were a long three months for me—I spent my lunches unfolding God’s heart from wrappings of intricate prose.

As I now tug on God’s side-seam, asking “Tell me, tell me, tell me what I’m doing for you!” while God continues about God’s business, I close my eyes and feel God dancing Godself, like the fractal screensavers popular in my twenties:

chaos and beauty, coherence without requiring order


“I have looked upon God face -to-face, and yet I live.” —Genesis 32:30

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