God looks much the same to me as He did in 1955. At age six, God looked a lot like a combination of an elderly Abraham Lincoln and Uncle Sam. He wore a white stove-pipe top hat, and a freshly-pressed, white tuxedo. I was impressed how a man as busy as He surely was could always look so neat. He had shoulder-length white hair and a long Rip Van Winklish beard. He was impressive, but not in the least unapproachable. I’d see Him when I was supposed to be taking my nap, but instead I’d find myself staring up at the ceiling, and, sometimes, I’d see this elegant grandfatherly figure before me. He never looked particularly at me, but I always felt welcomed and loved nonetheless.

I didn’t see Him again — indeed, I hardly thought of him — until January 1979. At first, I didn’t recognize Him. His hair and beard had been neatly trimmed, and he’d grown a fine, full mustache. His suit, still freshly ironed, was a handsomely tailored three-piece outfit, soft and cream-colored.

He entered the hall of the lodge with an old and dear friend of mine whom I’d not seen since college. I thought He was Hal Holbrook. For a short, silent time, we three gazed out over the mountains, my friend in the middle. Then, as if on cue, I turned to look at Him, and He at me. I knew instantly I was in love with Him, and that He loved me. My friend was forgotten as we came together, embracing with intense passion and fervor. I was startled to realize I was falling, and that I longed to fall, to surrender myself to this stranger. Nothing else mattered to me but my desire to merge completely with this man. I fell backward, floated downwards, revelling in the waves of orgasm, although I felt no physical penetration. When it began to rain, an umbrella was immediately lifted over us.

Later, I carried my sleeping bag to the dormitory where I would spend the night. All the bunks were taken. Then, from a bed in a corner, cast in shadows, a man said to me, “Here, you can sleep with me.” It was Him. I went to His bed without pause, without fear.

Next morning, we drove down the mountain together in my sports car. He was telling me all the things He had to do. I was oddly relaxed and at peace, even though I sensed I would not again see this man I had loved so mightily. I let Him out on a street corner and we said goodbye as though we were old friends.

I was in good spirits when I arrived at my therapist’s house, pleased that for once I had a “good dream” to work on instead of the usual nightmare. As soon as I brought back the scene at the mountain lodge, I was immediately engulfed by the same intense passion and love of the previous night, yet I had no more understanding of its significance than when I dreamed it. As I emerged from the happy, semi-hypnotic state I had relived the dream in, Linne asked, “Who do you think that was?” I hesitated a moment, still puzzling over His identity. Then, a distant memory came to me and I began, “He reminds me a little of what I thought God looked like when I was six. . . .” As the words left my mouth, I knew with absolute certainty that I had met, embraced and loved God.

Suddenly, a year and a half of therapy was over. I knew I would no longer need the sanctuary of Linne’s house, the warmth, understanding and wisdom of her counsel, to make my own way. In those few short moments of recognition I had received an inner knowledge that I now had to go out in the world on my own, to stand on my own two feet, and that I’d have the strength to do so.

To my surprise, I burst into tears as I said goodbye to Linne. I wept for knowing I wouldn’t see her again as my protector, my teacher, and the nurturer of my pained soul. I wept for a happiness and peace I’d never felt before, for the sense that I’d discovered an unshakable Truth to put my faith and trust in. Most of all, my tears were for an overwhelming gratitude for the gift Linne had given me — a gift more precious than life.

Virginia Mudd Madden
Alamo, California

I see God through the hole in my throat. He’s very big and very old and very loud. He’s the loudest sound. He lives everywhere but He’s on the finest, most refined level of perception. When I can see out the hole in my throat I see Him hovering all over His Creation. He’s the biggest Santa Claus I ever saw and it’s true that He’ll give you anything you want — anything. He’s the Creator of everything there is, so He owns it all. He’s the landlord, and He’s most certainly jealous, tender and very careful.

He doesn’t waste any time, so He doesn’t come knocking until we’re ready to shake His hand. When He finally does come, He comes because we appreciate everything on the same level He does.

Meeting Him for the first time — that’s something to get up for. First He casts His shadow. I thought: “Wow, this is my Creator coming in my room, I’d better ask for something, quick, before He goes away.” But right away I realized He’s the Creator, so when He comes, there’s nothing to ask for. It’s all there, every inch of it. God. He can’t stand it if you don’t recognize that everything belongs to Him. He literally doesn’t tolerate such behavior. That’s called pain, suffering, longing and despair. It means not giving everything over to Him.

He made each of us to fulfill His plan — to witness the Absolute, where we all come from. He came from there, too, and He made us to experience the Absolute. That’s what we’re here for and He expects us to do it.

If we want to meet Him we have to start by taking off the dark glasses and letting in the light. He’s certainly real and no poet’s fancy or philosopher’s argument. He’s the owner of it all, striding over it like a huge, crashing waterfall, the President of Life. The sound that encompasses it all. Being with a capital B.

Kathleen Snipes
Carrboro, N.C.

I see God through an innocent, crucified victim hanging on a tree. I see him sorrowing at injustice, inhumanity, hypocrisy, and pompous verbosity. I see him forgiving His enemies and weeping for His accusers. I see His heart breaking at the sight of little children abused and yelled at, their spirits beaten. I see Him helping the sorrowful, the emotionally impoverished, and the one who has no helper. I see Him with the arms of His concern around the bruised, the forsaken, the lost, and the misfit.

I see Him, magnanimous of heart, extending His mercy, grace, and generosity to callous, dull, insensitive humanity. I see Him weeping all alone in His closet, refusing with Infinite Nobility to let anyone else know what He is going through, bearing His own burden with courage and humility.

I see Him as Robin Hood Elohim, robbing the peace from the rich, filling them with the bittersweet lusts of their filthy lucre. I see Him distributing as booty, in the Age to Come, their treasures to the meek, the gentle, the persecuted. I see His Rage of Purity lashing out at skyscrapers of pride, I see them falling as dominoes into the Ocean of Death, the Sea of Vanity, the River of Emptiness. I see them then floating into the Delta of Destruction, the Justice of Hellfire, forever removed from existence, gone, vanished, annihilated. I see the righteous, the angels, the poor of every age shouting with triumph as one man, overjoyed with the recompense from on High, settling into an eternity without greed, ambition, and wrongdoing.

I see the ugly and gigantic ledger of Everyman’s Karma fall by the blood of a rabbi hanging on a Roman tree, and a certificate of debt then can be stamped with the words, “Paid in Full.” I see the generations of pleasure crying and the generations of mourning leaping for joy. I see the laughers sorrowing and the sorrowers laughing. I see every man being told by the One True and Great Psychologist exactly who he is and I see every man paid exactly what he is owed by the Heavenly Merchantman.

I see the universe dividing into two great classes, those who bow before His throne and openly confess that He is worthy of all praise, and those who are relegated to the non-existence of black holes for eternity. I see the heavens opened and the true Lucy (Light) of the Sky, with Diamonds, returning with glory and recompense to this earth, nearly ruined with the defecation of its own pollution and nuclear chauvinism. I see Jesus returning from Heaven, to where He was raised, now ruling the nations forever, as a Lamb with a rod of iron. Amen.

Larry Pahl
Elk Grove, Illinois

God is more than a word, a name, or a concept. God is a continuing experience, ever changing, not to be contained in a moment or a single thought. God is a feeling that cannot be touched by the analytical mind — an inner “knowing” of what is true and what is false.

One day God is my friend and comforter, the loving presence that sustains me and fills the distance between me and other beings. The next day God is challenger and teacher, bringer of hard lessons, the cleansing fire.

During my teen years of atheism, my mother remarked, “Yeah, I went through that phase, too. I didn’t believe in God either when I was your age.” She shook her head. “But all I’ve got to say is, if you can have a baby and still not believe in God, there’s something wrong with you.”

I had no way of knowing then how prophetic those words were. I was oblivious to thoughts of spirit, soul, God — going about my business with a narrow, selfish scope. I wondered why life had no depth or substance. I married for many wrong reasons — I thought I was in love, but looking back, I marvel at my limited perception of what love was. We pursued parenthood for wrong reasons, too — mainly thinking it would “save” the marriage. It didn’t, but the birth of the child became my own birth as well, and I began life again.

I was awake and working hard throughout labor, so lost in the exertion I forgot there would ever be anything beyond the all-consuming push of my body, which seemed not to be my body anymore. Surely I had little to do with the forces that timed the rhythmic flow of power surging in, ebbing, surging again. Caught in the tides of energy, becoming one with them, I was startled when I realized that the unseen child I had felt and carried so long was emerging into the outside world at last.

When the doctor laid her on my belly, the first thing this remarkable being did was turn her head and look directly into my eyes. As we stared into each other’s astonished faces, I saw beyond the boundaries of the universe.

Henceforth, she became my reminder, my conscience, my link with God. Like a mirror, she reflected back to me my dishonesties, my poor attitudes, my laziness, my selfishness. Step by step, I began to clean up my act. Eight years later, I am still learning from her and she from me — and the both of us from this awesome force of life we call God.

Nancy Wood
Celo, N.C.

God is a body full of all the souls — the multitudes, the heavenly hosts. As One breathes out many souls are hurled into physical existence. As One breathes in, the wars, diseases, weather catastrophes suck the bodies back into the heart of God. In and out.

We see so many physical beings that we fool ourselves that God’s balance has been tipped: that there’s more “out here” than “in there,” so that we can choose to say, “This is all there is and it’s ours!” Choose to lose the womb-warm memory of the company of souls and our speckness among them. Choose to die and know no more.

When we do die to this lifetime our distance from our Center marks the breadth of shock we will feel as we find ourselves merely back in God’s lungs, a cosmic pit stop. We live. We rest. We awaken. We sleep. We eat. We eliminate. We ying. We yang. We see. We confuse our sight. We see through the veils. We pull down the shades. We rage. We forgive. We dance this rhythm. We hold our muscles still. And in our expansion-contraction cycles we dare at least to wonder: dare we melt, love, be?

Charlotte Martin
Maitland, Florida