The center holds

This morning I found some old papers from graduate school, from when I studied creative writing at the University of Southern California.  It was May 1992.  One of our teachers assigned our motley crew of fiction writers the following exercise: Write a letter to God. Then, write a response from God.  This was not meant to produce fiction but rather was intended to get us to take a snapshot of our understanding of our relationship with God, good, bad or indifferent.  The only parameter was that our letters should be no longer than ½ page each.

I complied with this exercise quite willingly.  Our instructor was known mostly for his stint as a lead writer on the groundbreaking show Laugh-In.  However, he was quite candid about his practice of the 12 Steps of recovery, so I knew his interest in our doing the exercise came from a place of great integrity and of love for us as young writers.  At that time, I was attending church hit-or-miss, studying meditation, and keeping to myself that crazy thought that kept coming to me in quiet moments: priest.

The letters below were written nearly 20 years ago. If I were to do this exercise again today, I doubt that the result would be measurably different.

Dear God,

If I could change things, there would be no more injustice or oppression or poverty, no more them and us.  There would be no more politics of any kind, correct or otherwise.  People would know better than to act like they have power over others. People would love each other, and life would be fair.

We would have difficulty imagining that at one time fifty percent of all African American men were chronically unemployed.

There would be no more hate crimes, because there would be no more hate.  There would be no more hate, because there would be no more fear.  Every man and every woman would know who they are.  They would be whole.  All children would be safe.  No one would be alone or forgotten.

There would be nothing to write about.


Dear Beth,

I am.

I am infinite mercy, infinite forgiveness, infinite compassion, infinite love.

You are my hands, my feet, my voice, my body in the world.

Pay attention.


(Chinese farm art purchased in a market in Shanghai)

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
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