It’s me again. Actually, I don’t know what you want me to call you. For all I know, you might prefer to be called something Hebrew, Latin, or maybe you don’t want to be called anything at all.
Anyway, one thing’s for sure: you’re older than the feeble human names we humans call you. That much I remember from Sunday school.
My mother called you, “The Lord.” My granny called you “Heavenly Father.” My uncle used to call you by your first, middle, and last name whenever he smashed his thumb with a hammer.
Either way, I was raised in a staunch church, and I remember hearing your name in the tiny chapels of my childhood. The preachers loved to talk about heaven, and how nearly impossible it was to get there. And about hell, and how easy it was to go there.
And our Sunday-school teachers, who made you sound like an old Communist dictator who was always sentencing people to everlasting damnation. After a while, I thought of you in much the same way I thought about, for example, the Terminator.
But that’s not you. Not at all.
And even though I don’t know a lot about you, I know a little. Above all, I know what you aren’t. And I also know where I can find you.
I know that you’re the sun. You’re the starlight. You’re the pine trees. You’re the sky over Lake Martin. The smell of baked apples Mother used to cook. You are prettiness. You are the feeling of Christmas. The warmth of a family reunion.
You’re the look on a kid’s face when he or she catches a fish. The feeling a child gets when he or she has just been adopted.
You are every Andy Griffith Show episode ever made. You are Aunt Bee, Opie, Barney, Otis. You had absolutely nothing to do with Matlock.
You are guitar music my uncle used to pick. You’re popping noises from hickory logs in a fireplace. You’re salted butter. Roasted pecans. Bottled Coca-Cola. And loyalty from a friend.
You’ve done great things. And I’m not just talking about the big things—everybody knows you make the earth spin and the heavens twinkle.
No. I’m talking about tiny things you’ve done. Like how you managed to let me find a wood figurine my grandfather carved. It’s a buffalo, and it’s over a hundred years old. I found it packed in an old box.
Then there’s the time I got locked out of my house. I was carrying armfuls of groceries. My wife was out of town. And I had to pee. It was a miracle. The back window was open.
That was all you.
How about the way you made it rain last week? Or the way you woke me up this morning.
This Thanksgiving morning, my eyes opened to see a gold-colored sky during sunrise. There was a bloodhound on my bed—curled at my feet, snoring. A woman beside me, sleeping with her mouth open. The same woman who’s slept beside me for twenty years.
So I should thank you for her. And the coffee smells every morning. And Conecuh sausage, and eggs I eat for breakfast.
And my mother. And soft cotton. My sister. My nieces. My friends. And baseball. And homegrown tomatoes. And the sound of a mandolin. And the taste of rainwater. Pimento cheese.
I don’t thank you nearly enough, and I’m sorry about that. I really am. Because even though this life is no cakewalk, and even though it looks like this world is practically falling apart sometimes, it’s not. Because you’re still here. Being you.
I’m sorry, I don’t know what your ancient name is, so I’ll just call you friend. And I’d be honored for you to consider me yours.