D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom


today i had a crown put on one of my teeth. it is like a tiny solid gold blanket, destined to keep my tooth safe and warm and cavity free for a good long while. my dentist polished it to a high shine, she sawed off little tiny specks of it to make sure it fit perfectly.

while she worked away on making the gold perfect i thought about a documentary i watched years ago, called The Finger of God, about miracles that have taken place at a church/organization called Bethel in northern california. years ago i watched that documentary and felt that same weird twist in my guts i always got when the charismatic was brought up: i want to believe, but i don’t want to be burdened anymore by the sorrow of unanswered miracles.

people in the documentary talked about gold dust falling on the pages of open bibles, of silver teeth being suddenly turned to gold. i thought about this while i was in the dentist chair, waiting for my own expensive miracle to be placed in my mouth. the finger of God is so mysterious to me, and i get why people want to chase it, understand it, control it. i remember what a mentor told me when i tired to process the documentary, how confusing i found the faith of people who believe God is present but that it all depends on our faith or our goodness, that everything really is transactional. my mentor just shrugged her shoulders when i mentioned the gold dust and the gold teeth, marveling at the bizarreness. “God is weird” she said, as nonchalantly as if she was describing the weather, and i never forgot that. God is so very weird, and this is a truth i need to clutch close to me especially when I could use a good strong deity to crush all my foes and to solve all my problems.

my dentist hummed along to the radio station (spirit in the sky, if you can believe it, i kid you not) and while she was placing the gold blanket on my tooth, she confided in me that she made her husband’s wedding ring out of old crowns her patients had given her. i couldn’t smile, but inside i felt delighted, surprised by loving weirdness yet again. satisfied, my dentist gave me the mirror to see her handiwork. there it gleamed, a miracle i payed for dearly, yet still could never have earned with my own two hands.

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