Grace Notes: The little white church
Vail, CO, Colorado
The patches left in the sky fill with the cupolas of barns hidden all summer from view. I drive south out of Loveland, Colo., on a road I know by feel, by the pull of direction, by the mountains to my left, the sun to my right. I pass field after field of prairie grass, gold like a queen’s jewelry, swaying. I pass Sugar Mist Farms and The Cat House. Mile after mile of vines and weeds and errant sunflowers still line the roadside, even with first frost gone, moisture and green going fast. The trees are cleaning themselves out slowly, packing their leaves beneath them week by week.
This day, it’s still warm; we’re rounding on late year, but haven’t quite arrived: these are the respite days. I’m headed to a high school soccer game outside of Boulder. I swing my car to the west, on a wide half loop that places me staring directly into a wall of Blue Mountains. No matter how often I make this turn, I hold my breath for a moment, taken.
I drive faster and then slower, for the next 10 minutes, taking my cues from the twist of the road, the small towns, or almost towns, approaching or receding. I am not late for once and all is well, pleasant, quiet. And then I see it – The Sign. I read it, and then read it again before my car passes completely by. I’m befuddled. I go over it in my head, try to shake what I think is the message. The large white sign in front of the small white church said, “Let God Arise! Let his enemies be scattered!”
It’s a quote from a Psalm, number 68, to be exact. This however is not what interests me about the sign. It’s the words, and the implications of the words and that someone choose these particular words for a church’s sign. I can’t help wondering about the motivation; the sign strikes me as inflammatory. I spend the rest of my drive trying to figure out, frankly, who on this earth, is an enemy of God?
Are Christians the enemy of God? Are Jews? Are Muslims? Are Hindu’s? Atheists? Republicans? Democrats? Italians? Folks who bake? Who hates God? Vegetarians? Who makes God his or her enemy? So many people to choose from, so many possibilities, but I’m having trouble thinking of even one.
I drive on, trying to get my head around it, trying to answer the question – who hates God? Maybe there’s someone I could ask. Who, I wonder, would be qualified to define the enemies of God? Someone who understands the thoughts and likes and dislikes of God. Someone who knows God finds favor in them or their particular group; and someone that knows God is displeased with other people or groups. Who could that possibly be?
I can’t reject the suspicion that the sign may be provocative to raise ire. I wonder if it is a poke in the side to encourage people of one faith to label people of another as enemies, a push to encourage animosity toward people with different views or faiths.
Perhaps I’m taking the big white sign in front of the little white church out of context and getting all flummoxed over nothing. It could have been many things besides a cry-out to define certain people, or religious groups or political views as right by God or wrong by God. Right?
I wrack my brain again, consider and then reject all sorts of people, all sorts of groups and religions. I simply can’t think of one God hater. People get mad at God, sometimes for a very long time; people ignore God; people are disinterested in God; people don’t believe in God. It takes all sorts to add up to a civilization.
But, most of us, of all religions, of all persuasions, of all viewpoints, have deep and unwavering hopes for our lives and the lives of those around us. Nobody is God’s enemy. I just don’t buy it.