In the now defunct TV drama Joan of Arcadia, the series main character has run-ins with the Almighty every which way she turns. Appearing as a mime, a school janitor, or a teen hottie (to name a few disguises), his brief coversations with Joan are at once puzzling and oddly endearing. I was first drawn to this show by its theme song (One of Us): "What if God were one of us, just a stranger on a bus?" Despite the show's often ludicrous plot maneuvers, I've found myself drawn to it because I like the idea of God in disguise, coming to us aslant, so to speak.
Have I ever looked into the eyes of a stranger and met God face to face? I think it's possible; there have been times I've felt unaccountably blessed by serendipitous encounters.
The homeless man with pure blue eyes, dressed in a raggedy, obviously once expensive suit coat, for instance. Something about his majestic bearing (punctuated by his gallant bow) in spite of his ragamuffin appearance left me wondering for days if I'd just met--at the very least--an angel unawares.
The elderly Asian woman who on several occasions ran up my porch steps to plant a kiss on my cheek, smiling broadly as if we'd known one another forever: was this God in the humble disguise of a kindly stranger, and could he not help but run up my porch to give me a smooch?
I muddle through most of my days, getting by as best as I can with little emotional and physical steam. Like most of us these days my world is a blur of busyness. But there are moments, tucked into the maelstrom of my days like hidden treasures, moments which if I'm not careful I will overlook completely, missing out on their intended blessings.
A total stranger walks beside me out of the fabric store, holding her umbrella protectively over me as I hurry in the pouring rain to my car. Another stranger, a fellow member of an online knitting forum, pledges monthly financial assistance. More than this, she prays for me and my granddaughters during the grueling months of my son's attempt to win custody of them.
My teen grandson tells me, "I admire your courage." God in disguise? Maybe not literally, but surely he hides within every word and act of grace with which we are blessed.
Oh, I search for God in the highways and byways of my days, subconsciously perhaps, but searching nonetheless. Is he here? Does his heart race with love for me as mine does for him? Is he to be found in the warmth of my little granddaughter's body pressed next to mine on the couch, in the look of adoration on her face as she gazes up into my eyes?
Her sister's kindergarten teacher speaks gently to me, making eye contact, her hand warm on my back and oh so comforting, and I am nearly undone by her tenderness.
And what of the sweet, white-haired woman my then hubby and I had never seen before, approaching us as we left church after services, presenting us with an envelope of cash in the exact amount we needed to pay our electric bill to avoid disconnection the following Monday? If not God himself, then an angel in disguise.
We go through our days treading holy ground, oblivious to the stir of activity in the spiritual realm all about us, blinded at times to evidence of the Almighty's presence as our eyes and hearts focus on the merely ordinary. But within that ordinary, if only we could penetrate its mystery with the eye of faith, lies the extraordinary: God's whisper as we brush shoulders with him, or an angel sent in disguise to encourage, enlighten or uplift.
Years ago I somehow failed to see a 4 way stop (all I know is the sun was blinding me as I came out of a dip in the road). I had Sissyface with me (she was a teen), and one of my toddlers. I narrowly missed plowing into an elderly couple in a station wagon, and ended up in the ditch. Before I could step out of the car to assess the damage, 3 of the most muscular men I've ever seen showed up out of nowhere, and pushed me out of the ditch. When I turned to thank them there was no one in sight, in fact I couldn't even see where they could have possibly come from. Celestial help in time of need?
Joan of Arcadia is about what you'd expect of a Hollywood show depicting how God interacts with human lives. I don't agree with everything it portrays, yet every time I come across an old episode my heart stirs hungrily within me.
What if God were one of us? I believe he is, in more ways and on more occasions than we can fathom.
I SLEEP, but my heart is awake: the voice of my kinsman knocks at the door, saying, Open, open to me, my companion, my sister, my dove, my perfect one.
Song of Songs 5:2.