God’s Big Belly Laugh


The woodlands

stand before me,

in exuberant stillness

the trees welcome me

into themselves.  The

Divine Mother sings in

my ears, as branches clap

to a chant flooding the road

preparing the way for

God’s big belly laugh.


The Buddha laughs,

his round belly carries

the joy of everything:

he’s given up renunciation

for an incarnation

of happiness.  His fullness

holds the road

that begins anywhere,

and leads nowhere,

so all universes


may inhale

and exhale

the Buddha’s

big belly laugh.


“Behold, the entire

cosmos turning

within my body,”

Krishna said to Arjuna,

showing his true form,

revealing himself as

the source of every breath,

every leaf, every organism,

every mountain peak,

every sun, every galaxy,

every circulating gesture of Vishnu

in all past, present, and future yugas.


Krishna showed Arjuna

there is nothing

He is not.

The overwhelming wonder

terrified Arjuna, so Krishna

discreetly veiled his form.  But

He mischievously timed

his concealment,

a second before Arjuna

would have witnessed

the revelation of all origin:

Vishnu’s first

big belly laugh.


Fish and bread offer

meager celebration

after a resurrection:

in their existential haste

the writers forgot about

that dance with Mary Magdalene.

After astonishment,

fingered wounds, and meal,

wine flowed from new skins.

Fermented on wine

and eternity, Jesus reached

for Mary’s hand,

took it in his, and said,

“Let’s dance.”

He twirled his beloved

a hundred times,

then a hundred more,

their fingers wrapped

around each other,

they laughed

until the heavens

rolled and unrolled

ten times ten

times ten, and

they tumbled

to the ground in joy;

engulfed by their laughter,

Thomas believed.  Jesus bent

next to Mary’s rapt being,

her eyes incandescent with joy,

and he whispered in her ear,

“I wear your anointing still,

and I will wear it until the end

of time, when all that

remains is my Father’s

big belly laugh.”


The woodlands

stand before me,

the trees invite me

into their arms, and the sky

calls me home. Beside the road

dogs howl, their clamor

recedes as

shimmering trees

envelop the road.


The Divine Mother

rises from the ground,

chanting holy sweetness

in my ears, her white robes fold

circles around me, again and

again, twirling me ten times

ten times ten.  My feet rise

from robe, road, and earth,

lifted into sky and sun,

the Mother’s love

soaked fragrance and

I become one.


On the unseen road that

begins anywhere

and ends nowhere,

I surrender

to all that is,

as the Divine Mother

carries me home

to most high heaven, and its

celestial temples, where live

angels and prophets and poets

and those resurrected in

God’s big belly laugh.





This prose poem was drafted late last summer.  That month was flooded in luminous images difficult to untangle, their speed and intensity overwhelming.

The poetic arc I tried to capture was God’s laughter, a trope all but ignored except in the mystical traditions, because the ego hates joy — and religion loves to keep us in our suffering.

It’s been months since I’ve looked at this, but I felt nudged to return to it today.

The final version, which will take shape for another year or two or ten, will include a section on Hafiz, the Islāmic Sufi poet who inspired it; but that part still isn’t drafted.

Strange how that works, the poet who seeded my imagination remains invisible.

A couple of quick notes on the sources: in Buddhism, the image of the Buddha with a big belly is an iconic or metaphorical representation of unbound joy and expansiveness.  Not an exercise in realism, but expressive license.

The section on Krishna refers to the Bhagavad Gita.  In the “Song of God” (Bhagavad = God, Gita = song) Krishna reveals his true form to Arjuna, and it’s one of the text’s highlights.  One of the world’s most important religious documents, it’s an excerpt from the Mahabarata.  It’s a small but powerful text, and I strongly urge anyone with spiritual thirst to dive into its pages.

Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu — a relationship that many liken to the Christian father-son relationship.

In defining “yuga,” I’m being lazy, and for brevity’s sake I lifted a definition via Wiki:  “Yuga in Hinduism is an epoch or era within a four age cycle. A complete Yuga starts with the Satya Yuga, via Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga into a Kali Yuga. Our present time is a Kali Yuga, which started at 3102 BCE with the end of the Mahabharata war.”

Indian religious cosmology and mythology’s vision is vast: human history takes place in an endless cycle of Universal life and death.  The universe folds and unfolds, age after age.  Human history is dwarfed by the larger forces at play.  Think of pictures from Hubble, and you get an idea of Indian cosmology.

It was important to me to portray a laughing Jesus.  The idea of a laughing, not smiling, but an irreverently laughing, love intoxicated Jesus came powerfully to me during this month of poetic flooding.  The Jesus we never see, the one who danced, sang, loved, engaged with life as a fully alive, aware being, not the mystically detached blue-eyed Caucasian that dominates our narratives.

This is the Jesus of Christ at-one-ment, not the small cult figure that’s strangled our spiritual imagination.

Lastly, hearing the Divine Mother chanting isn’t a metaphor — it was real singing.  But I’ll leave it at that.

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