It is very odd knowing that Something exists and seeks connection with us (we often refer to her as “God”) and yet having no actual proof.
We call this “faith” and sometimes “belief.”
Recently something happened in my life that reminded me of this tenuous hold I have on the belief and even faith that the planet is not an accident of axis and sunlight.
I spent an evening recently at my pottery studio, which is located one town north on this island. I always bring my phone so that I may listen to Audible books while I throw clay pots on my wheel or glaze them for a firing. On this particular evening, I arrived home and after puttering around with emails and paying a couple of online bills, I cleaned up my desk for the night, turned off the lamp, slid the drawer closed, and settled into the final hours of the night – some tv, some water, some wine and then off to bed.
Another habit of “off to bed” is to remember to take the cell phone into the bedroom and place it onto its charging cradle. But the phone was nowhere to be found. I intentionally choose to live in less than 500 square feet of living space and so I only have a few tabletop surfaces – five in fact. After a careful check of all my surfaces and even a deliberate examination of my bed and favorite chair and their surrounding floor, I came to the decision that I must have left my iPhone at the pottery studio. “No worries, I thought, I can fetch it in the morning before work with an early-morning drive.”
So off to bed I went, slightly annoyed not to have my phone in my home – feeling a bit too disconnected and slightly aware of a possible addiction to it.
I slept well, and the next morning, made coffee and began my day, as usual, watching pottery Youtube videos when suddenly I heard it.
It was the very same “ping” my iPhone makes when it has received a text- though slightly muffled.
I was alert, in the same way a chipmunk sits up and looks around at the sound of a human coming.
So, my iPhone was indeed NOT at the pottery studio. It was right here in my sitting room or perhaps bedroom (I only have and need the two.) I froze.
WHERE WAS THAT PHONE SOUND COMING FROM?!
So I waited. I assumed the phone would ping or ding again, sending another hint regarding its whereabouts and sending me into a hunt. But from where?! All the tabletops, the carpets, and the bed had been checked! How could I be hearing the phone when I could not see it? The computer tracking system said it was in my home but did not pinpoint the exact six-by-four inch location (a design flaw if you ask me!)
Soon, another sound. A “plick-chungk-clink” The sound of an arriving email. Again, I was up and searching like a bloodhound, while my dog Sugar moaned and looked at me over her glasses with the oh-so-common-“What is that hairless bi-ped doing now?!”-look.
I searched and searched one corner of the room from which the sound seemed to come but saw nothing. Then again and again the phone pinged.
Sitting at my desk and exhausted from the frantic search, I slid open the closed-desk-drawer and there it was; the iPhone. Happy. Ready to serve. Slightly power-depleted from her effort to say “Through these people’s messages of love to you, I —am-trying-to-communicate.”
I guess the previous night I had used my iPhone to pay a bill, placed it onto the open desk-drawer ledge, and then, in the dark, with a darkened iPhone screen, slid the drawer closed for the night as I prepared the desk for the same rest into which I was moving for the night.
Many would say I am not a good Episcopalian because I do not believe the right things. And they would be correct. Some would say I am not a good Christian because I do not believe in the right things, and they too would be correct. I am told, rather sternly (which always makes me giggle) that I should be grateful that the Christian Church has chosen new tools to discipline their clergy – burnings and torture having gone out of fashion this century. And I suppose I am grateful, in a way.
However, I still do believe that something, hidden, terribly shy, and somewhat hurt – is trying to communicate with me.
It may not look anything like what centuries of theologians and dogmas have attempted to describe and police, but something is out there. And it is trying, in its way, to “ping” and “p-ching” from its hiding place. And it feels, to me at least, loving, given what beauty it has created around me on this planet and in that cosmos.
Does theology provide me with what I need to believe? Not usually. Does ritual? No. Does music? Often. But science always does. And people do. And Sugar & Kai-the-dog do. And buttered noodles. And pancakes with whipped butter on a snow-day do. And rainbows. And Saul, and Linda, and Mark, and Doug, and Luke, and Chris and David and Shahnit and so many others – yes, they provide me with what I need to believe – in something shy and hurt, trying to make sounds from a hiding place – trying to connect.
Trying to ping to us, like distant voices of creator and saints, as from a Dr. Seuss dust speck,
“I am here. I am here. I am HEEERRREE!
And I love you.
I always have.
I always will…
Your culture’s images and descriptions of me, notwithstanding.”
The Daily Sip is a series of short-form essays written by Charles LaFond, a potter, writer, and fundraiser; who lives with his dog Sugar on a cliff, on one of the more than 400 islands in the Salish Sea, pondering and writing about how to be a better human, but often failing. And sometimes not.