It’s not that I don’t feel I belong in Oklahoma, but that I rarely feel I belong anywhere in particular, now. I have no romance with any soil anywhere, anymore. I am no longer connected to land, to place, to time. Still I think Oklahoma might be the ideal home for the lost and the homeless: the big open space between coasts, in the middle of nowhere and the middle of everything. It is a place for drifters shuffling across the dust bowl, Steinbeck country, wide lens sky under which I taste my own grapes of wrath.
While I am not intimate with the land, this night is different— feeling the faint electricity in the air still two days away from the storm, the slow early dance steps between sky and thunder. God hangs over me, heavy-footed in the clouds, arched round like a pregnant mother. I feel the weight of my losses and the lightness of no change in my pockets, still a long way from home, but so decisively alive. Spirit is a wanderer and thus an unreliable lover, but I feel her attention through the balmy breeze. I’m bone tired of turning knobs and fiddling with the antenna, trying to find the frequency where I can listen to her. But tonight I know… she is listening to me.
“So....” I feel a shuffling inside, a middle school boy again. “I’m back to my old ways of talking about you, but still feeling like I don’t know how to talk to you. I don’t know what to say and I don’t know what to ask for, and I don’t know what any of this means. I just need your help. Please, please, please…is there some way you can still help me now?” I don’t quite hear a reply, but I feel more in the wind than far-off thunder—the playfulness of Spirit, the belly of the pregnant mother bouncing over me, laughing. Tenderness settles over in the cloud, and smiles.
I feel the stillness rise in me, the quiet just before the storm comes. The thoughts stop swirling and the voices go eerily silent in my head, the voices of the mad hatter and the old-time preacher, voices from the cell phone and from the peanut gallery. Spirit presses down on me from the same heavy clouds, an invisible hand in the wind pressed firm against my forehead—telling me to hush. And then its not the voice of a mother but of a son that comes tumbling from the clouds, the words come rolling through me: “Come unto me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
This is just happening in my brain, synapses and neurons firing: “I am just telling myself things I want to hear,” I say. Spirit presses light but firm now, and the hush returns. The man’s voice is sweet and playful, as I hear the words again, “Come unto me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” My eyes are full now, like the belly of the mother. The water breaks. The words come softly, over and over, and I feel something rise inside. Spirit still hovers in thickness of the clouds. Then I lose the first part of the sentence, and all I hear is:
“And I will give you rest.
And I will give you rest.
And I will give you rest.
And I will give you…
I will give, and I will give, and I will give, and I will give
And I’ll keep giving and I’ll keep giving and I’ll keep giving
And I will and I will and I will and I will
And I am.”
I have no words of my own; too tired now to fight with the wind. Exhausted, I hear myself whisper “yes” into the Oklahoma sky. Some part of me trusts that new life is being delivered. I’ve been born more than once, and died more than once too. Yet I am startled by the newness. Could it be quite so simple to be born again, all over, just like that? Saying yes to the wind, and to the pregnant mother?
I am still in tears. The breeze is still laughing.