Every now and then I get the irrepressible compulsion to drive away. I drive for as long as I can and as far as time will allow. I usually end up at an ocean. This urge is why I make an annual insane drive down to Myrtle Beach and why I spent Monday sitting on cold sand in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach. I wish I could explain it better, but I don’t know how. I think it happens when I’m stressed or weary or maybe a little heartbroken. Long drives with loud country music and the sound and smell of the ocean always seem to soothe whatever it is that needs healing.
Monday, I carried my shoes as I walked barefoot on the sand and I asked God (as I often do) what it is I’m doing here and what I’m supposed to do next. He was quiet (as he often is), but there’s the sense that he’s listening and present. He’s there, not with an audible voice, but sort of a spiritual 괜찮아, which is more than enough to assuage the fear in my chest. I pepper him with questions; all of the things I’ve avoided asking him for weeks and months. In typical fashion, he answers with other questions. The spotlight turns back on me and I have to think hard about what it is I want in life, and how it is I want to live it.
As I often do when I talk with God, I spoke in Chinese. I don’t know if this was always the case but it is now. It’s weird. My chinese isn’t very good, and I’m definitely more comfortable and capable of expressing myself in English, so it’s odd that I’d choose (if you could call an unconscious decision a choice) Chinese as my language of preference in prayer.
It occurred to me recently that I speak to God in Chinese because I speak all of my other parents in Chinese. It’s how I grew up with my parents so naturally, when I speak to my heavenly parent, I started to do the same. The limitations of my Chinese dress down my language and force me to simple and clear. I trust God to decipher the gaps in vocabulary and without English, I can’t temper my earnest prayers with cowardice and nuance. I just ask, like a kid would.