Meet my new genre: the rogue homily. Let’s be clear; I’m no preacher man. I do want desperately to reconcile my life ledger and make sense of the mess in the margins, but my theology’s hot—stolen from people way better than I am.
I want to put God on the page but usually end up finding him in people. So I tell stories about the people and put them on the page instead.
My friend Ashley Besser’s answer to my husband’s insistence that I didn’t have enough street cred to pen homilies.
I’m playing dirty here, I know, with the homily approach: dining and ditching and leaving you to foot the bill of a hundred indecisions, a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of toast and tea. Maybe just make like I’m Alice, you the rabbit; follow me out the door.
Dr. Pepper and God: A Rogue Homily on Faith
My fourteen-year-old daughter and I have been splitting up lately. I send her in one direction with a cart as I yell out a few items for her to track down, and off I go in the other direction.
She goes for the usuals—the dog food, the toothpaste, the granola. I go for the unusuals—the interventions, the spontaneous, and surprises—the things she’d never ask for. She’s such the humble one.
She’s fourteen and doesn’t smile as much as I remember smiling at her age, so I lighten her days with occasional delights, like books or a Dr. Pepper.
Daina has the loveliest network of spare mamas. Some, like Lexi, borrow Daina’s books and call her room their own personal library. Daina, of course, loves playing librarian and book reviewer for them. All her spare mamas from my work are writers and lit Ph.D.s who send me home with New York Times clippings of bestseller lists and bags of books for her to try.
Yesterday, Robyn (my colleague and her personal YA novel consultant) messaged me to say that Magnus Chase had been released, so when I arrived to Publix, of course, Daina split (practically lickety) to head to Books-a-Million, leaving me to hunt and gather on my own.
When we arrived home, her book and my groceries in tow, we were unloading the trunk, and I was fumbling with one bag with root beer cans falling out of the top.
“I got you Dr. Pepper,” I told Daina as she worked to beat her last best bag-holding record.
She looked into the trunk disappointed but sorry to have to tell me at the same time, “Oh, I don’t like root beer.”
“I didn’t get you root beer,” I told her, as if she hadn’t heard me clearly.
“I don’t like root beer though,” she said, confused.
“I know. I said I got you Dr. Pepper,” assuming she’d understand the root beer was for Atticus, her brother who loves root beer for his occasional woot beer fwoats.
“That’s root beer, Mom,” as if to shore up all the teenage know-it-ness she could manage.
“Stop focusing on what you’re seeing and listen,” and I pointed to the bag she’d already gathered into her arms with eight tiny cans of Dr. Pepper in it, just like I’d tried to tell her over and over again.
I kept thinking, Man, she’s so sure of herself. Why is she so sure of herself? She didn’t even set foot in the store.
And then those words snagged my mind cardigan: Stop focusing on what you’re seeing and listen.
I told you so.
*Note to Rabbits: I realize that I’m God in this analogy. Just go with it. It’s been a mom day.