A Book of Uncommon Prayer:
We believe in one God or another, the God of Heaven and Hell, provider of divine scripture, an unequivocal God of expectation and punishment, His word final, infallible. Or we believe in no such thing, in many things.
We believe in Stuff. Through our stuff we seek salvation. Sedans ensnared in backyard weeds, small businesses -- brokerage firm, used car lot, bike shop -- and beer steins. Or G.I. Joes. We believe G.I. Joe rose from his packaging in a smaller form, that we might talk.
Joe isn’t what he used to be.
Yeah, now he has muscles.
We believe in Food: fourth pork chop and sneaked bites before bed, no matter gout, never mind cholesterol. Or microwaved leftovers during after-school cartoons and whole bags of Cool Ranch in one afternoon.
And Drink: Miller Genuine Draft or Dr. Pepper by the twelve pack.
We believe in Music, in boozing with The Platters or smoking to In Utero. In nostalgic late-night clarinet twice each year or half-learned guitar behind a closed bedroom door.
We believe in Burdens. For our sake our worlds weigh upon us, that we might suffer, might lash out, might forever distrust, dislike ourselves and each other. To stresses and disappointments we turn, the better to hurt as we most deeply believe we deserve to hurt.
We believe in Work. We assemble Chinese tractors in a garage full of fenders and frames hauled from Houston, spend a summer eating lunch specials at a small diner, talking shop over Possum Pie.
But you are nothing without too much work to do, and I have school and, soon, a son of my own.
We believe in Signs, in hiking Arkansas' Mount Nebo and asking God to reveal Himself. Opening our eyes, we accept as affirmation the unlikely genius of a timely Walking Stick.
Or we take such faith as a sign in itself.
We believe in Independence, squeezing lime into coozied beer on the Fourth, playing catch with our sons in the pool before debating, again, the fate of our nation, our jokes lighting fuses that burn to the bomb, blow us apart, make birthday phone calls briefer.
We believe in the Father we won’t live to be, a man who guides and teaches, calmly, with devotion. At your grandson's blessing, you regret not leading me to God and I thank God you didn't as men bend over my child and strangely pray.