What does my God look like? Are you mad to ask me such a silly question? Did I say I see Him? No, I said we speak. I have never met my God but He has told me that I am made in His image. And that makes common sense to me.
Is there a God? My God, He has not forsaken me. Yes, He is there. He watches and He sees. He waits and He calls. And He will collect the evil-doers and those full of sin. He will pay back when pay-back day comes. He will. Forgive and forget? My God, He does not forgive and He never, ever, forgets.
When do I talk to God? When He needs me to. I talk to Him when I’m not on speaking terms with Jesus. Jesus gets jealous. Jesus is like that. Jesus knows when he has annoyed me and when I am ignoring Him. So he interrupts my private conversations with God, in the best imitation of an attention seeker that I have come across.
Let me give you an example of how Jesus behaves. He does this: He knocks on my door and he says, “Excuse me, you’re always talking to our Father, what’s wrong with Me? Don’t you want to listen to Me today? Don’t you want to hear Me?”
But I turn away. “Hey you,” he snaps, “come here, you! Where are you going?” “I do not know,” I reply, “it’s none of your business.”
I don’t want to talk to Jesus but he’s always knocking on my door. I wish Jesus would back off. “Watch yourself at corners.” Completely. “But what am I supposed to do with that,” I ask him. “What kind of voice comes from nowhere bouncing off the waves?” Jesus says nothing. That’s typical of him, when I can be bothered to ask his advice, Jesus is never in. Some friend!
But my God is always there. When do I talk to God? It used to be only in times of deep stress, anxiety, and depression; in other words out of great necessity. But now, these last couple of years, we speak every day.
I talk to my God and I am bathed in His calmness. I talk to Him and He lifts me up with wrathful rage. I talk to Him and we laugh together. He makes me promises and I keep them.
I know what will happen if I do not listen to Him, for my God is a vengeful God. My God is a butt-kicking God. My God is an “I’m-going-to-get-you-for-that, you’re-going-to-pay-for-that God”. My God says: “It’s the 21st century and I can’t be looking at or dealing with or hearing this s..t all over again. You guys have had thousands and thousands of years to get your act together. Now, you’re all going to pay for this mess.” And that is why I love Him.
What is my God’s voice like? It feels like the breathing of the trees. A hungry pain sweeps through me and assuage it, He gives me a tree’s whisper and I learn to breathe again.
What does my God look like? Are you mad to ask me such a silly question? Did I say I see Him? No, I said we speak. I have never met my God but He has told me that I am made in His image. And that makes common sense to me. Because if He is my ultimate Father, my Father to infinity, then, obviously, our features must be similar. I must bear some resemblance to Him. Similar colouring, similar hair texture, similar vocal patterns, similar language.
Imagine worshipping a God in whose image you cannot see yourself and your people and your race. What does my God call me? He calls me His daughter. But at first I did not know what to call him in return, then, long ago, I settled on “my God”.
A few weeks ago I picked up by chance my old school Bible. It was on top of a pile of documents in my studio. My studio had been broken into at the end of April and my papers and documents – personal, private and business – had been strewn and thrown and rubbished everywhere. Destruction. My dead mortal father’s funeral album taken out from its secure, hidden place and left open on the photograph of him lying in his coffin. Half-a-century old pictures of my dead mortal mother and my aunts in their young African beauty trampled upon and trashed. School and university scrolls missing.
Inside the cover of the Bible, in proper blue-black inkwell ink, an 11-year-old hand states her name in careful but familiar newly joined-up writing, followed by her address and then her school and class number. 35 years on, I think I would like to know how that Book calls God’s name. This is what it says in its Preface:
“A major departure from the practice of the American Standard Version is the rendering of the Divine Name, the ‘Tetragrammaton’. The American Standard Version used the term ‘Jehovah’; the King James Version had employed this in four places, but everywhere else, except in three cases where it was employed as part of a proper name, used the English word LORD (or in certain cases GOD) printed in capitals.
“The present revision returns to the procedure of the King James Version, which follows the precedent of the ancient Greek and Latin translators and the long established practice in the reading of the Hebrew scriptures in the synagogue.
“While it is almost, if not quite certain, that the Name was originally pronounced ‘Yahweh’, this pronunciation was not indicated when the Masoretes added vowel signs to the consonantal Hebrew text.
“To the four consonants YHWH of the Name, which had come to be regarded as too sacred to be pronounced, they attached vowel signs indicating that in its place should be read the Hebrew word Adonai meaning ‘Lord’ (or Elohim meaning ‘God’).
“The ancient Greek translators substituted the word Kyrios (Lord) for the Name. The Vulgate likewise used the Latin word Dominus. The form ‘Jehovah’ is of late medieval origin; it is a combination of the consonants of the Divine Name and the vowels attached to it by the Masoretes but belonging to an entirely different word. The sound of Y is represented by J and the sound of W by V, as in Latin.
“For two reasons the Committee has returned to the more familiar usage of the King James Version: (1) the word ‘Jehovah’ does not accurately represent any form of the Name ever used in Hebrew; and (2) the use of any proper name for the one and only God, as though there were other gods from whom He had to be distinguished, was discontinued in Judaism before the Christian era and is entirely inappropriate for the universal faith of the Christian Church.” (The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version).
In November 2004, God told me that He could eat off my soul. I was shocked: What did He mean? He said that He meant that as He looked at the actions of other people, as He heard the way other people spoke and what they spoke of, as He saw how they behaved, as He listened to their thoughts, He shook with anger.
These people, my God said, offered His world, their exteriors and bodies which they perfumed and pressed and preened themselves in, but inside their bodies, inside their interiors, their souls stink to high heaven with their duplicity, deceit, depravity, decadence, and evil. But my soul, He told me, was clean enough for Him to eat his dinner off. I telephoned my close friend Esther and I told her what God had revealed to me. She agreed. And I wept.
A week ago, I read this by accident and I laughed. It is Luke 11:38-40: “The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?”
Who is God? Where is He? Who speaks in His name?
Is God the vile whispering of total strangers who try to replicate another human being’s innermost thoughts? Is God the voices that try to disrupt a human being’s brains with quietly distorted mutterings? Is God heard in voices that try to penetrate human beings’ minds with wild, sordid images and imaginings? Is God the voices that attempt to force humans into pornographic slavery?
I hear these people’s voices and I say to my God, “Punish them for they mock you, for God’s voice is not a human being’s voice. And a human cannot penetrate the mind of another human with whispers that ape God’s voice talking to a soul that He alone has created. Punish them I say.” And He replies that He will, for these people cannot become what they are not.
Is there a God? I don’t know, but He talks to me.