By Sean Dietrich
It’s me again. Actually, I don’t know what you want me to call you. For all I know, you might prefer to be called something Hebrew, Latin, German, or Cherokee. Anyway, one thing’s for sure: you’re older than the names people call you. That much I remember from Sunday school.
My mother called you, “The Lord.” My granny called you “Heavenly Father.” My uncle used to call you the “Big Guy.”
Either way, I was raised in church, and I remember hearing a lot about you in the tiny chapels of my childhood.
I love those chapels. I remember plaster ceilings which leaked, and pews that creaked when people shifted weight from cheek to cheek.
And Sunday-school teachers who made you sound like an old Western sheriff who wouldn’t take any lip. Like Wyatt Earp, or the Terminator.
But that’s not you. Not at all.
And even though I don’t know a lot about you, I know a little.
I know that you’re the sun. You’re pine trees. You’re the sky over Lake Martin. The smell of baked apples Mother used to cook. And prettiness.
You’re the look on a kid’s face when he or she catches a fish.
You are every blessed Andy Griffith Show episode ever made. You are Aunt Bee, Opie, Barney, Otis. You had absolutely nothing to do with Matlock.
You are guitar music my uncle used to pick. You’re popping noises from hickory logs in a fireplace. You’re salted butter. Roasted pecans. Bottled Coca-Cola. And loyalty from a friend.
You’ve done things. And I’m not talking about big things—everybody knows you make the earth spin and stars twinkle.
No. I’m talking about tiny things you’ve done.
Like how you managed to let me find a wood figurine my grandfather carved. It’s a buffalo, and it’s almost a hundred years old. I found it packed in an old box.
Then there’s the time I got locked out of my house. I was carrying armfuls of groceries. My wife was out of town. And I had to pee.
It was a miracle. The back window was open. That was all you.
How about the way you made it rain last week? Or the way you woke me up this morning.
This Thanksgiving morning, my eyes opened to see a gold-colored sky during sunrise.
There was a bloodhound on my bed—curled at my feet, snoring. A woman beside me, sleeping with her mouth open. The same woman who’s slept beside me for fifteen years.
So I should thank you for her. And the coffee smells every morning. And Conecuh sausage, and eggs I eat for breakfast.
And my mother. And soft cotton. My sister. My niece, Lily. And baseball. And tomatoes. And the sound of a mandolin. And the taste of rainwater.
I don’t thank you nearly enough, and I’m sorry about that. I really am. Because even though life is no cakewalk, and even though it looks like this world is practically falling apart sometimes, it’s not.
And you’re still here. Being you.
I’m sorry, I don’t know what your ancient name is, so I’ll just call you God.
Thank you, God.
Sean Dietrich is a columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in Southern Living, the Tallahassee Democrat, Southern Magazine, Yellowhammer News, the Bitter Southerner, the Mobile Press Register and he has authored seven books.