When I imagine the voice of God, I think of the smell of mildewed bibles and lemon wood polish. I see the blue and green itchy plaid jumper, interwoven with threads of yellow, my pale scabby knees jutting out over the edge of the pew. I remember the white leather bound missal with gold embossed letters, showing pictures of Moses on the mount, face skyward, clouds parting with heavenly light. This is how I imagined the voice of God would come. It would be a thunder crack that splits the sky and shakes the ground. It would bring all of creation to its knees.
I am 40 and tired, with a daily lower backache and new creases between my eyebrows. I notice the mirror needs cleaning as I swoop in to pick up stray crayons and legos. Dust particles dance on a single beam of light. I push the vacuum back and forth over my son’s carpet, and this voice comes to me. It always enters through the back of my skull, like a swiftly moving weather system, a barometric pressure drop, that pushes through words that are not mine.
This time the voice says, “Do not squander your Gifts.”
It does not have a sound, like my husband calling out, “Have you seen my phone? Can you call it for me? I think the battery is dead… oh shoot! No wait, there it is.”
No, it doesn’t boom and crack, and stop space and time. It doesn’t bring me to my knees. It doesn’t come in pictures, like those fully formed paintings, waiting to be made, that sear into my brain before sleep. It doesn’t come from my gut either, that inner voice that nudges me to turn left to find that open parking space. It isn’t a guiding beacon that tells me to slow down because there might be a police car positioned right up there, a half mile on the left.
The voice comes fully formed. It does not trickle in word by word. It is not hinged on my understanding, like a translation. It is a knowing, a message. If you were to crack my skull open like a fortune cookie, there it would be in red letters, in CAPS.
I forget about my backache and the busywork. They are just backdrop now as I let the message seep in, and hold it up against the storyline of my life.
I first notice the obvious irony, —the timing of this message, with the Christmas holiday looming and the emphasis on physical gifts. But I know it’s not about that. I then think about my real TRUE gifts which are these:
I have time. I have my health after overcoming breast cancer 3 years ago. I have my family, my friends. I have the gift of my voice, my words, my writing. I have the gift of my work —my purpose and passion to help other people. There is a deeply embedded fingerprint on my heart. It is empathetic care, a love for life on this planet that sears my heart with pain and longing and makes my eyes sting with tears. This gift is to see and love and feel.
If I were to never write another word, to never speak to you again, please remember this:
DO NOT SQUANDER YOUR GIFTS.