31 comments

American Christian Contemporary

Unlike most children, it took me quite a while to weed through the corrugated cardboard boxes that had been shipped to me after my mother’s death. They contained items that I imagine my other siblings had either not taken or simply not wanted. At its bottom, a pair of eyes were staring up at me. They belonged to Jesus. It did not look like the picture of Jesus had been drawn or painted; it possessed a photographic quality. But how in this world, if I may ask, could this ever be a photograph? On the back and in my mother’s distinctive and flowing cursive handwriting was written. “God is always watching you.”


I find it difficult to remember any room in my mother’s old house where at least several pairs of Jesus’s eyes weren’t always staring down upon me from the walls of her home. In fact, if I recall correctly, she even owned one of those 3-D pictures that created the illusion of his eyes following you to whatever part of the room you’d moved. I do believe that one was one of the four she had hanging in the bathroom, and ironically, the only one in the entire house where Christ was nailed to the cross.


Now, please don’t judge me. I love my mother. It’s just that…


I’m often confused by people who are so sure of themselves they can see no other point of view than their own and usually are blinded by the misconstrued illusion of positive self-approval, self-righteousness, and entitlement. Narcissism is a look that wears thin in a relatively short period of time on all but a few, and on those who it doesn’t, they often become too hideous to gaze upon for too long. And that is, in itself, the conundrum. 


Now please don’t judge me. I love a good conundrum as well as the next guy. It’s just that…


People are always going around saying things and rattling off platitudes like, “When Life Gives You Lemons—Make Lemonade”. I get it; the idea that if something negative occurs, you should dig down deeper inside yourself and you’ll eventually dig down far enough to find something positive. I get it. It’s just there are some days when a soul feels like they’ve been laying in their grave so long and where they’ve hit rock bottom, thus there’s no deeper a soul can realistically dig. 


Now, please don’t judge me. I love a deep dig as good as the next person. It’s just that…


Why has no one ever coined the phrase, “When Life Gives You Rain—Make Rainbows”? I love my mother, a good conundrum, I try to dig as deep as I can, and most times I even look for the rainbows after it rains. This makes me think back to one of the four pictures of Jesus, the only one where he’s hanging from a cross that my mom had hanging in the bathroom of her old house, you know, the one I already told you about where you felt like his eyes were always following you wherever you went? Well, maybe his eyes weren’t really looking at you—maybe he was just searching for the rainbow—same as us. Perhaps Christ regretted, if only for a moment and if only in a tiny way, a life squandered changing water into wine while instead he simply should’ve been dedicating more of the precious, little time he had in this world toward turning rain into rainbows.


Now please don’t judge me. I know that everyone dies sooner or later, right? It’s just that…


Before God died, She laid Her head upon the pillow where it had lain so many times and where She first had Her dream of creating others and all else to keep Her company throughout the eons yet to come. With a sole, sad sigh She released Her grip on consciousness and slipped deeper into the depths of oblivion, the place where all unfulfilled thoughts and dreams gradually returned to be thought and dreamt anew. Where the light and the darkness return to mingle when it’s no longer night or day and where the rainbows fear to tread. In a final, single breath God was gone, and She was no more.


When God died, She died unhappy, unrealized, and empty. She’d given Her all but Her all was never enough. Her creations could neither console nor content Her any longer. So, with Her last breath, She released and set them free to go about life without Her. With Her death, free will had been decreed, for better or worse, and all of creation was now, truly on its own; because God was dead.


When God died no one bathed, cleaned, or prepared Her body for interment. No pallbearers in procession struggled beneath the weight of Her casket, neither did mourners beat their chests nor weep. No wake was held. There wasn’t even a funeral. Many of whom She created would not acknowledge Her demise while the others carried on without a care. Few conceded She had passed along at all. Merely a handful tried to tell the others, “God has died!” It was always lonely at the top.


When God died, there was little that really changed. The sun still rose in the east and set in the west. Sin was, as always since the beginning of time, a puzzle left partially solved by saint and sinner alike. The waves upon the sea still rose and fell as they neared the shore. Seasons continued to change and life went on. The winds still moved, borderless and unbound, as if by magic. Then, somewhere, a small sparrow had become vaguely aware of all the ways God had suffered before crumbling cold and dead on the hardened, fertile ground of which she was the genesis. Yet the sparrow did not cry, it simply flew up toward the heavens and disappeared. Other than that, pretty much, everything just stayed the same. The only difference was; God was dead—and then She was gone…


Amen!


July 23, 2021 01:12

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31 comments

Angela Walters
16:17 Jul 27, 2021

I love the flow of your story. It made me think of a lot of things as I read it. For example, in every house I have owned and even my one room cabin, I have a cross with Jesus hanging above my front door. I always did it to bless whoever left and stop evil from walking in. The first memory that came to my mind came from your line about the mother being set in her ways. It reminded me of my first house. My dad was very bothered that I had a cross with Jesus. He wanted to know why I would want to be reminded of Jesus's death everyday. ...

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Stevie B
16:41 Jul 27, 2021

Angela, thanks for your comment and for sharing your thoughts. In the 2nd half of this story "She" is God. Only a woman (at least in my strange mind) has the capacity to birth, nurture, and love humans.

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Angela Walters
16:47 Jul 27, 2021

Oh, I like that!! I also wondered while I read your story if you could have meant "She" was God. I don't think your mind is strange at all. At least not in this concept, lol ;) How intriguing it would be if God indeed was a woman..

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Stevie B
16:55 Jul 27, 2021

Well, as to my strange mind that was probably the only thing my three ex-wives would ever agree upon in regard to me...

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Suraya Ngobeni
10:30 Aug 11, 2021

"She is God" What an uncomfortable thought, yet strangely has some twisted truth to it. Your story made me think of how, it really is to be a Mom we Create and all life goes on regardless of our being, Thank you what a thought provoking story

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Stevie B
10:50 Aug 11, 2021

Thank you for your thought provoking and kind words, Suraya. Hearing that my words had the power to make you feel and think, even if it's uncomfortable, makes me feel and think I must of done something here that all artist endeavor to do through their work: feel and think.

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Stevie B
01:17 Jul 23, 2021

AUTHOR'S NOTE: If every picture tells a story then is every story a picture that must be told? You tell me. Then snap a selfie of what's on your mind, and please send it to me...

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Lisa Lacey
20:20 Sep 10, 2021

Sometimes you read a story and a line in it sticks with you for the rest of your life. I'll be carrying your line “When Life Gives You Rain—Make Rainbows” with me from now on. I know it was just a small part of your story, but it really resonated with me. Thank you!

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Stevie B
20:39 Sep 10, 2021

Lisa, so happy to have you connect with my work!

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Phyllis Kennedy
12:47 Aug 18, 2021

With all due respect, It is irreverent to address The Almighty Loving God that way. As throughout Scriptures He is addressed with the pronoun 'He' despite the concept. You are a good writer though.

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Stevie B
12:50 Aug 18, 2021

And of course the scriptures were all written by men, thus there lies the gender bias. Thank you for the compliment.

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Ramona Taylor
05:46 Aug 02, 2021

I won’t judge you, it’s just that your story is so wonderful! Please don’t judge me…it’s just that this story deserved more recognition. You’re a very good writer! Please don’t judge me…it just that… I’ve tried making rainbows when given rain ( in Columbus Ohio we must be second to Seattle in rainfall) and I’ve succeeded about 10% of the time. I like all your stories.

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Stevie B
11:09 Aug 02, 2021

Ramona, your comment just put a rainbow in my heart. Thank you!

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Ramona Taylor
13:09 Aug 02, 2021

You’re welcome.

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Karina Kilimnik
14:42 Jul 30, 2021

I loved this story! It flowed perfectly, had such beautiful descriptions and interesting perspectives. It was a wonderful read. You truly have a gift. Thank you for sharing this story and I look forward to reading more of your work.

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Stevie B
15:15 Jul 30, 2021

Karina, thank you for sharing your thoughts and kind words with me. Comments such as yours are always so wonderful to read!

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Ruth Porritt
06:48 Jul 29, 2021

Thanks so much for writing this, Stevie. I smiled in a creepy way when I read the inscription on the back of the picture: "God is always watching you." (No offense meant.) Honestly, I would love to write a horror story, or tale of the macabre, about a man who inherits a picture like the one you describe. With your permission, can I borrow the "God is always watching you" thing? If this is not okay, I totally get it. (I understand that this is something that happened to you, and you may not want someone to borrow what was actually written...

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Stevie B
13:28 Jul 29, 2021

Ruth, By all means please use the "watching" phrase. I not only embrace the concept that if someone uses something from what I've included in a creation then we've both succeeded in carrying that something another step further (i.e.: we've procreated -lol- and isn't that what our work should be about?), but that I'm probably not the first to have employed that line (my now deceased former business associate, Sam Phillips, the person I credit as being the true father of rock & roll and who introduced the world to the talents of legends such...

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Ruth Porritt
07:54 Jul 30, 2021

Hello Stevie, As always, thank you for your kind words, and permission to use the quote from your story. (I will definitely use the "God is always watching you" quote at some time in the future, I just don't know when.) Also, I always enjoy the information you share about the music business. (Everybody loves The King, and everything I previously knew about Sam Phillips I learned from the t.v. show called 'Drunk History'. That's super awesome that you knew him. LOL, Sam Phillips, not Elvis.) Thank you so much. Yes, one of the new things ...

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Stevie B
13:47 Jul 30, 2021

Ruth, Presently I'm revisiting William Golding's "Lord of the Flies". A much better read as an adult then when I was originally introduced to it in school. I rarely buy books since I prefer the uncluttered minimalist lifestyle, so my reading material source is the public library. For me entering a library is similar to going into a single's bar; one never knows what one will be taking home - and there lies the excitement! My taste in all things in life (which few will disagree is all too short...) is eclectic. Perhaps I'm not so unusual in ...

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Ruth Porritt
09:00 Jul 31, 2021

Hello Stevie, Thanks for your message. Ah, libraries. I miss them. (I currently live and work in Asia, and foreign libraries are few and far between.) I am of the opinion that the best libraries are in Ohio, but I would go to any library in the U.S. or U.K. (just for the thrill of the unknown book) In my U.S. hometown, there is also a thrift store with a great selection of random paperbacks. (from the 70s through today) I hope that thrift store is still open. Yes, exactly! I don't like doing the same old thing, (or reading or writing the ...

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Stevie B
14:02 Aug 01, 2021

Glad you had a chance to check out "A Room..." and I'm sure you'll not only enjoy Golding's work but even pick up a few new ideas about dialogue construction (I know I certainly did - especially the clever way he presented SamnEric's speech patterns).

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Alizah Muhammad
17:40 Jul 28, 2021

Another masterpiece!! I absolutely loved reading it 👏👏👏

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Stevie B
20:24 Jul 28, 2021

Thank you, Alizah!

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Mads Sherion
16:11 Jul 27, 2021

For me, your thoughts tell many stories in one, and knowances. It's fun how I read it like I'm always like at the edge of my tongue. I seem to understand it and relate but at the same time I may have not, because I might interpret more shallow than what your great thoughts are. Love this work!

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Stevie B
16:51 Jul 27, 2021

Mads, thank you for your kind words and encouragement. My general intention was to create a flow of consciousness where one thought trips another and then goes into a new direction.

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Dhevalence .
18:33 Jul 26, 2021

I've read a few of your recent stories, this one as well, and I'm struck by your fluency and your deep honesty. I'm no expert but the best stories are 'our stories'. Great writing.

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Stevie B
18:38 Jul 26, 2021

Thank you, Dhevalence, for your thoughts and kind words of encouragement. I agree that "our stories" are the gold that a writer should be mining.

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Jubilee Lubov
00:40 Jul 24, 2021

I AM IN AWE. I love the repetitions and the flow of the story. I'm not great at the super analytical stuff, so I won't be commenting any of that, but just- wow. Strangely, this almost reminds me of a remembrance speech that could be given at a funeral? Anyway, fantastic job!

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Stevie B
01:38 Jul 24, 2021

Thank you, Jubilee! Comments like yours make writing all worthwhile - and more..

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