The Shakes

[Word count: 496. Approximate read time: 2 minutes]

Whenever I visit my hometown, my mother does not let me leave until she prays for me. It’s always been that way since the mid-80s when she got good and saved. That means whether dropping me off at elementary school or releasing me to the freeways so I could get back home to Los Angeles, it’s still the same thing. I would have to pad my travel time by about 5 or 10 minutes for Mom.

There is a very singular way her hand shakes when Mom prays for me. It’s not violent, or over the top. It’s just the slightest bit stronger than the magnitude felt when you lean against the dryer on its final spin cycle. It’s actually kind of relaxing. In any case, I can see it coming on as she reaches up to place her hand on my forehead.

If I didn’t know her well, I might think it was a put-on to dramatize the prayer. That’s no act. It’s been consistent throughout, which gives it credence. Fakeries reveal themselves over time.

These days, I moonlight as a skeptic. But I wonder about that. There must be something real to it. And I wonder what it is.

It wouldn’t stand up in court. It would be useless to convince you or anyone else of God’s existence. But it means something to me. It’s a fingerprint, a personality tic, a signature, an inside joke—something only God and I would know. An unmistakable wink and a smile. It’s his way of telling me, nonverbally, “I’m still here.”

I visited an all-worship service at a new church. The music was beautiful. It nudged me to sing along and around the music like a kid in a playground. I bowed in reverence. Then I got a little bit free. And then I stood up in reverence. And then a little more free and I started to shift my weight like a car trying to rock itself out of a ditch. And then I had to move around. At first in small roundish circuits, and then in a wider linear path as if to trudge out a solution to the U.S. budget crisis. Pacing. Again.

I remember this. I pace when I pray. It’s not something that I try to do. It’s not something that does anything particular for me. It’s just something that seems to come over me. You might easily explain the occurrence away, but not so much the experience. Something about it is real to me.

I’m not fooling myself or anyone around me. To me, this is admissible evidence that there is a God who mysteriously moves and sluices around us quietly and with intent. His plans are rarely ever unobscured to me, but all I need is a little confirmation now and then and it’s enough to poke holes in my most securely reasonable doubts. The shakes. A pace. It’s significant, because the little things always come from something big.

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