Once upon a time there was a rooster who lived together with many other animals on a farm.

It happened that every morning before the sun was up the rooster would turn to the other animals and he would say: “Now I am going to crow in order to wake the sun.”

So the rooster would flap his wings and go to the top of the house. Then, standing at his tallest, he would crow.

Each time after doing this the rooster would stand, looking silently and confidently toward the horizon. Soon the big red ball would appear and come slowly up. Soon the whole sun was there. The rooster would then look down upon the other animals and say, “Didn’t I tell you!”

The animals were simply perplexed. How come that God had given such power to the rooster?

Well, one day … I believe the rooster he drank too much and he overslept. You know what happened in the morning: The rooster woke up to crow to make the sun rise but found that the sun was already up.

It was a terrible blow to the rooster’s ego. But from that day on the animals were relieved of all their anxiety for they knew now that should the rooster stop crowing the sun would still come up.

We religious folk — theologians, preachers and laity sometimes — are a bit like the rooster. We think that if we don’t crow the right way — use the right words, sing the right hymns, follow the right liturgies and hold the right doctrines — that God won’t appear, that something very serious is going to happen to God.

So we get in long discussions, argue about what is the right tune, bicker about words and confessions of faith, all the while our jostling robbing us of a right sense of humility where we ought to be together in a spirit of awe.

Seldom do we come to an agreement as to the right way to make God appear. So people of faith follow the Methodist way, or the Lutheran way, the Roman Catholic way, or the Jewish way, the Islamic way or the Buddha way — all trying to make God appear. Would that it might occur to us that God is there apart from any thing we might do or say.

YOU SEE, the wonderful thing is that God appears in spite of the tunes we sing, whatever the manner of our crowing or not crowing.

This being so, all of us are relieved of the horrible burden of having to sing the right tunes, follow the right liturgies and choosing right doctrines.

It appears that we are free to improvise, to invent and tinker with the machinery of this business of reaching out to God, who, happily, always remains just beyond our getting.

We can crow anyway we want, being free to indulge ourselves in the delicious game of God-talk, confident that God understands.

So it is that all our various theologies are in reality a kind of joyful play, a “blind man’s bluff” sort of affair.

Science spends its currency probing what and how. Philosophy wordily wonders about the why. And religion is ever asking after who, sensing that someone on the other side of the world’s windowpane is trying to get our attention.

All God-talk arises out of the conviction that we are more than we appear to be and that our destiny is connected to an Ultimate Other. Poet Denise Levertov provided perspective when she wrote, “The mind’s far edges twitch, sensing kinships beyond reach.”

Consequently, no one need be embarrassed of having said either too much or too little about God.

The world seems designed to receive our words and our silences, our foolishness’ and our discernments, when it comes to our seeking how to talk about God … trying to find out God and what it means to believe in God.

One could almost believe that God, overhearing our God-talk might occasionally engage in a bit of laughter, as we forward our little guesses about the “God-Secret” that seems always to remain just beyond and outside our creeds, confessions, and statements of faith.

With this God we too might laugh — even in the presence of frustration and dilemma. But let it be laughter arising from our faith, the healing laughter of redemption, knowing that the one veiled by our God-talk is ever near.

Our laughter may be mixed with a kind of poignancy, as all adult laughter is mixed and never far from tears. Still we do not have to choke our laughter because tears sometimes stain the pages of our days.

Life on this planet is always going to be confusing and laced with insecurity. Good and evil seem to come in equal portions. Earth has both the cancer ward and the flowering field. Death is written into the script and part of the plot from the beginning.

There will be times when we will feel lost both to ourselves and to heaven.

Nevertheless, however we may think about God, God is always going to be there for us. We live in a creation … not in a madhouse.

The Rev. Merle G. Steva is minister of visitation at First Parish Church in Saco. He can be reached at:

[email protected]