Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Comic Books, God, Grace, Jesus, Prayer, Religion, resurrection, Spider Man, Spirituality, Superman, thoughts, writing
When I was a toddler we lived in a neighborhood call Cotner. My whole world was contained in a four-block radius. Our house was only a few blocks from a small business district. Grocery, pharmacy and restaurant were all within walking distance of our home. Of all the businesses that occupied that area, one especially filled my young heart with an immense amount of pleasure. It was the Barbershop. Those three blocks seemed like an eternity to my five-year-old feet, but the Saturday sun felt good on my face. My father accompanied me and we both went for our obligatory buzz cut.
Rounding the corner the red, white and blue pole swirled inside its clear plastic case. Swinging the door open a large mirror covered the entire south wall with three chairs attached securely to the floor. Only two of the chairs were ever in use because the owner was elderly and sick. Mike and Todd stood hunched over apron-clad customers as tufts of hair floated gently on their shoulder and onto the floor.
Mike and Todd were not equal in their barber prowess. Todd’s thick pop bottle glasses made me think of Floyd the barber of The Andy Griffith Show (which was still playing in Nebraska at the time). Yet, I found him less humorous when he nicked and buzzed too close to my ears. I held my breath when he ran the razor across the leather razor strap to straighten the hairline on the back of my neck.
Mike had naturally curly hair and a moustache. He was always very friendly and snapped his scissors three times as he ran a comb out of your hair. Snap, snap, snap…snap, snap, snap…snap, snap, snap.
“Hello Lee and Brian,” he would chime as the bell on the top of the door announced our entrance.
Since it was Saturday the place was always full. So when we came in we would always need to wait in the row of chairs facing that large mirror. Red seats with chrome arms kept my little feet dangled inches above the tiled floor. For me the waiting was the real reason for visiting this den of men.
Their Saturday conversation was always of football.
“Do you think that they are going to show up this week?”
“I don’t know, the Hawkeye’s have a good team this year.”
“I wish Coach Tom would let the boys pass the ball more.”
“Did you see that long run last week?”
The conversation always went on but I got bored listening and so I turned my attention to the stacks of periodicals placed on a far table. Shuffling through Nebraskaland magazine, Field and Stream, Popular Mechanics and Sports Illustrated I gathered the wrinkled covered treasure trove which was hidden underneath. The collection of comics!
There were the kiddie ones like Richie Rich, Daffy Duck and Tom and Jerry, but I was looking for a much more mature fare. These had bold title with characters such as Sgt. Rock, Thor, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Spider Man and of course Superman. Each sparked my imagination and except for Sgt. Rock all of these comic heroes displayed the one thing that a child like me most dearly desired, superpowers. Their powers included superhuman strength, the ability to fly, being able to shoot webs from their wrists, laser like beams coming from their eyes and lightening from their hammer. As I sat in the barber’s chair and the sound of electric clippers buzzed past my ears I began to daydream.
A train filled with people is speeding toward a washed out bridge and there is only one person who can save them. Super Brian! Flying as fast as I can through the air I catch the train. With my shoulder blades against the front of the engine and the heels of my feet popping across the wooden railroad ties I stopped the train mere inches from the precipice of disaster. By the time Mike or Todd turned me toward the window to see my new crew cut I had saved countless lives from danger.
I don’t know much about God. I might even get a bit uncomfortable if you corner me in private and try to make me give you some sort of subjective definition of the attributes of God. Yet, I do know what I want God to be. I want God to perform as the role of superhero, to stop trains, tornadoes, hurricanes and tragic death. The God that I want at the receiving end of my prayers will fix my problems and make them seem like they never really occurred. I want God to banish suffering immediately to the dungeon in God’s fortress of solitude, but that is not the God who I encounter.
The God that I encounter is an indefinable word wandering somewhere in the human alphabet between A and Z. It is a God that is past my beginning, but is too impatient to wait completely until the end. Mine is a God at home among mortals. It is a creator taking resident in my suburban Arlington neighborhood, as well as, Kampala.
My God may not leap tall buildings in a single bound or be faster than a speeding bullet, but I would never trade my imminent God for a superhero. Then I would never be able to see God in the faces of so many broken, hopeful, sad, content, lonely, joyous, frustrated and satisfied humans. It is the faith and unbelief of others which gives me hope and helps me to know that God is alive amongst mortals.
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