This is an excerpt from the opening lines of a piece I am working on. It’s a memory piece that takes place in a few waking minutes between dreams.
An elderly woman is shuffling towards me shouting, “I want to see the face of God!” I recognize her but cannot recall her name. She is wearing a wrinkled pale-blue hospital gown. She turns away and yells, “I want to see the face of God!” The strings of the gown dangle in the back. She spins around and runs towards me with tiny rapid steps. Her legs are wobbling. Her voice crescendos, “I want to see the face of God!” I still cannot remember her name. I look around. I am in a dimly lit hallway of a nursing home. A Filipino woman steps into the hall carrying a half-eaten dinner tray. “It’s time for bed, Mrs. Anderson.” The patient strikes out and knocks the tray onto the floor. She bends at the waist and screams full volume, her voice emanating from deep within her chest, “I want to see the face of God!”
I wake from the dream. It’s 4AM. I’m in bed looking out the window of my bedroom. In the foreground is the silhouette of a redwood, it’s branches undulate and beckon. The lights of Oakland glimmer off in the distance, giving way to the velvet gray of the San Francisco Bay. The sky is chalkboard black with a dusting of moonlit clouds. A voice echoes inside me: I want to see the face of God! I want to see the face of God! It’s the voice from my dream, but it is more than that. It resonates within and elicits a feeling, something old and familiar, like a forgotten friend from grade school, someone I haven’t thought of for many years. I want to see the face of God! The words buzz in my chest, coalescing into a thrum under my sternum and next to my heart. The vibration moves up my throat and explodes in my head with each repetition. I want to see the face of God! The resonating words become something I can see, something I can touch, and smell, and taste. I want to see the face of God! Like Proust, “I am filled with a precious essence; an essence that was not just in me, it is me…whence did it come, what did it mean?” …
Kurt Biehl ©2015