what god sounds like


    I know what the voice of God sounds like.

    I heard it at church this morning when our pre-kindergarten and kindergarten age children led us in our prayer of confession as a part of our worship service celebrating our children. Five or six little munchkins stood at the front of the church and said together, “Let’s pray” with more energy than I’ve ever heard in such an invitation. Then, in unison, we all said:

    God, we’re sorry for the things we did that were wrong. Help us love one another better. Help us love you better. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

    Then God spoke in the children’s voices:

    God’s love is so big! We are forgiven! We get to try again! Thanks be to God!

    And everyone said, “Amen.”

    When I was a kid, Samuel was one of my favorite biblical characters. I loved the story of him going to wake up Eli because he thought the old man was calling him. When I pictured the priest, I saw him like my father who woke up in the night whenever my brother or I made a noise and then, as long as he was awake, would wander down the hall to the bathroom from which one of us was exiting because that was why we had made noise to begin with. In my mind, Eli was standing in the middle of the hall in his boxer shorts, his hair standing up in all directions, squinting and saying, “What are you doing up?”

    “You called me,” Samuel said.

    “You’re dreaming,” said the old man. “Go back to bed.”

    When it happened a second time, I imagined Eli was a bit more perturbed and a little less sleepy. When Samuel came down the hall the third time, Eli was awake enough to realize what was happening.

    “Samuel, you’re hearing a voice that’s not mine. The next time you hear it, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.’” (I learned the story from the King James.)

    When I animated the story in my mind, I never had a clear idea how God sounded. I never really bought into the booming bass voice that blows out the woofers. And, I guess, I never spent a lot of time trying to imagine how God sounded at all. But this morning when the children proclaimed, “We are forgiven,” I knew that’s what God sounded like. I really felt forgiven.

    When I caught up on my reading tonight, I found this wonderful poem at Anchors and Masts:

    God Says Yes To Me
    Kaylin Haught

    I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
    and she said yes
    I asked her if it was okay to be short
    and she said it sure is
    I asked her if I could wear nail polish
    or not wear nail polish
    and she said honey
    she calls me that sometimes
    she said you can do just exactly
    what you want to
    Thanks God I said
    And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
    my letters
    Sweetcakes God said
    who knows where she picked that up
    what I’m telling you is
    Yes Yes Yes

    About three lines into this wonderful poem, I could hear the kids reading the words. “Yes, yes, yes,” is best said by energetic kindergarteners, don’t you think? Alongside of how it sounds, the voice of God reads like a Mary Oliver poem, for one. One of my favorites is her work simply titled, “Poem”:

    The spirit
    likes to dress up like this:
    ten fingers,
    ten toes,

    shoulders, and all the rest
    at night
    in the black branches,
    in the morning

    in the blue branches
    of the world.
    It could float, of course,
    but would rather

    plumb rough matter.
    Airy and shapeless thing,
    it needs
    the metaphor of the body,

    lime and appetite,
    the oceanic fluids;
    it needs the body’s world,

    and imagination
    and the dark hug of time,
    and tangibility,

    to be understood,
    to be more than pure light
    that burns
    where no one is —

    so it enters us —
    in the morning
    shines from brute comfort
    like a stitch of lightning;

    and at night
    lights up the deep and wondrous
    drownings of the body
    like a star.

    The watchword of the United Church of Christ is “God is Still Speaking.” What else would God be saying but, “Yes, yes, yes.”



    1. I’m delighted you enjoyed the poem and I was very moved by how you describe the energy of the children, and their “Yes, yes, yes”. To God and to life. I wonder when that unreservedness leaves us? No wonder children often don’t want to grow up. I’m trying to learn to return to it.

    2. Yes, yes, yes!!! Wonderful, Milton! It is amazing the places you can hear God’s voice, and children speak with God’s voice so clearly.

      Peace and blessings,

    3. That is a damn fine prayer of confession and assurance. Why do we try to make them so complicated?

      And I think God sounds like Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock…

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