I was recently part of a meeting with Wayne Jacobsen, a co-author of the Shack. There was a group of 15 white people talking about God. After a lengthy exchange about God as a black woman – as He is portrayed in the book – people were saying to each other how shocking and mind-boggling this whole idea was. Then, a door opened, and a black woman entered the room. She happened to be the only black person in the meeting. When she joined us, people caught her up on what was going on, and she, with much laughter, said it was a great idea to portray Papa as a black woman. For various reasons. She laughed and said she was happy to be associated with a loving Papa.

After the meeting, as Inna (my wife) and I were ready to walk out the door, a chance presented itself to get introduced to the lady. And I felt a strong desire to ask her for a hug – a black woman’s hug. I felt as if I would be getting a hug from God himself. (For those who don’t know the Shack story – the first thing Mac got from the real God in the form of a black woman was a hug, which shook his world). I asked her for it, and she happily obliged me.

I felt ecstatic. As an Eastern-minded person (I am a Russian), I don’t need any proof-texting that it was God himself who hugged me through her that moment. I just knew it. I guess in some ways it’s easier to be Eastern-minded. I don’t need any proofs beyond what I know deep inside. No one can convince me otherwise – the “knowing” is not based on any “argument”. I just know.

No wonder Jesus preferred to physically touch people. When we are touched by God we know it. We don’t doubt it was Him, no more than a baby doubts that it was their mom’s touch. Knowing or not knowing is not a question of cognition. It’s a question of recognition. There’s a whole other mechanism at work. It is this kind of knowing that people lack and mostly crave for. It is this kind of knowing that makes you whole. And it is the lack of this kind of knowing that leaves you bereaved, cut off, orphaned and insane.

In the visible realm, the meeting was a bunch of people huddled under a blooming pear-tree – talking, sipping wine, or daydreaming. But in the invisible realm, it was an environment of God’s voice where everything and everyone around could potentially become a whisper of the Spirit. It was great time of attuning my ears to his gentle blowing. Or was it just the wind whiffing through the branches over my head?



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