I Wept Over my Break-up With God While Driving

I wept over my break-up with God while driving. I was thinking about our good times; those hundreds of hours spent in praise and worship, and then remembering that I thrilled at the experience of the fellowship all in unison with one intent, but also not admitting that I was not feeling the presence of God, but rather the euphoria of a single-minded meditation of sorts. Not once did He show up. We waited, vigilantly, but no-one could say definitively that He showed up to the party being thrown in His honor.
And that time as a missionary in Mexico when a family brought their daughter, crippled with polio, to a group of us at a work sight. The parents saw the joy in our faces during the Sunday service earlier in the week and where convinced that the Holy Spirit inhabited our praises. We also believed, and we prayed for her leg to straighten as a testimony to her family and village that God will never forsake. But He did.
And the hundreds of hours in prayer.
And so on.

We had a 35-year relationship with plenty of separations and restorations until, well, I just ran out of gas. I didn’t have the one-sided conversation in me anymore. I wasn’t buying the, “God speaks to you through the people he puts in our lives and through the good things that have happened to you and the bad things that didn’t.” I’ve counseled people with that line, but it was very good sounding and anxiety relieving bullshit. He never spoke to me. Not once. Not ever.
I miss Him a lot. I wept so deeply I had to pull over.

That was yesterday. Today I find myself fully dressed and in my right mind. I think I’ll write.

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I’m Sorry, Maya Angelou

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I didn’t appreciate who you were, but I’ve come to understand. Over the years I would see you on this show or that and my impression was that you were a bit too precious and over the top. You had the diction of a Northeastern blue blood and I my assumption was that you came from a privileged up-bringing. Your whole persona seemed affected and that chilled my interest in who you were or what you had to say.
I heard ‘Still I Rise’ without being aware of ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’. I’m not sure a white guy raised in Minnesota could appreciate one without the other. I didn’t know that you shared the stage with James Earl Jones, Louis Gossett Jr., and Cicely Tyson, (All of whom I’ve always thought highly of).
I have come to understand what black entertainers like you, Ozzy Davis, Sammy Davis Jr. Harry Belafonte and all the others had to go through being well loved entertainers, yet having to come and go through the servant’s entrance of the venues that you were playing.
I’ve been shot at and nearly run over by bigot crackers because I was traveling with my ‘road dog’ Chris who was also the best man at two of my weddings. I’d forgotten at the time that he was black, but the world reminded us. He apologized to me once that I had to endure this with him and I burned with shame so deeply that I could taste the ash in my mouth. I tell you this only so that you know that I get it…as much as I’m able.
I’m sorry, Doctor Angelou. You were regal, and proud, and your respect was hard won. Forgive me for not knowing. You have a place of honor in my soul, Ma’am.

E.A. Cook

ONCE WERE MEN AND STRONG

I was six years old when we gathered in the living room to watch  Neil Armstrong walk on the moon on our black and white Zenith in 1969. It was just four years after the Watts riots, a year after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., Vietnam was happening, and Woodstock, and a little later in the early seventies was Helter Skelter, the fall of Saigon, Watergate and Wounded Knee in ’73 and every man that I grew up around were MEN.

My Father’s generation-men who fought in the Korean War, sat at home waiting for their sons to return from Vietnam, and the young men of that war set the standard for my generation as far as what a man is. But the ones who took over after we stepped back dropped the ball.

The door was wide open for books, movies and music to step up, and they did. Hard boiled movies like Death Wish, Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry, Vanishing Point and Walking Tall and Dirty Harry, Foxy Brown, Mr. Majestyk, Billy Jack, Shaft and Jeremiah Johnson, Hang ’em High, The Sting, Serpico-  all had what the public was hungry for, and then there were the fiction writers like Mario Puzo, Leon Uris, Kurt Vonnegut, and  Norman Mailer. Bold essayists were on the scene like Gloria Steinem, Maya Angelo, Charles Bukowski, and Susan Sontag and they were breaking all the rules.

Men handled their disputes with other men toe to toe and women handled their business face to face. We were strong, a spiritual movement was emerging in Christianity, Buddism, Hindu, Tao, Wicca and we were waking up as a nation again.

Since then, it is my contention, there has been a drought on every level. Somewhere along the way women got therapists, and spent time getting in touch with their inner child and wrote about it, while the men were shaving their chests and doing their hair while they developed politically correct scripts and novels, being careful not to offend. Anyone. Until now.

Women are making movies, fighting in wars, pastoring churches and running multi-million dollar companies. Men are becoming men again, but now it’s okay to be a whole, well rounded and intelligent badass.

There is a resurgence of historical fiction in film and books and it’s a violent history portrayed in every film and series that appeals to both men and women, and I believe we want back what we’ve lost in the last couple decades. There is no truth on pages or in conversations if the words don’t evoke passion. I see us evoking passion again. I am encouraged.

E.A. Cook