A coworker was telling me about a friend who works for Microsoft. This guy’s job is to fine tune how Cortana works. You know, that annoying voice that greets you when you power up your laptop, asking if you want to add anything to your grocery list.

His s job is to actually listen to all of the responses that come back, all of the things people say to their computers, fine-tuning the voice recognition so it won’t respond, “I’m sorry, did you say you wanted a Tennessee Walrus? when you said Tennis Balls.

While a few might love Cortana, many are like me, yell in multiple languages, shut up!

Cortana does hear you. But does God?

I wonder about this like all of the time,  including yesterday, when I made a trip to an obscure temple on the outskirts of Kunming, the Qiongzhu Si or Bamboo Temple. I hired a motorcycle to bring me to the mountain top, it’s motor, puttering the entire time,  I think I can, I think I can, like the Little Train that Could.


It was worth the trip. The Bamboo Temple been around since the 1200s…and I’m guessing, so have the toilets.

I made there that day, not to risk my life on a rickety motorbike, but to pray for two brothers who took their own lives, that day being a painful anniversary for their family.

Of course, I didn’t see this sign until after I took a gazillion pictures,which explains the glares I got from these guys. Actually, these two statues are one of five hundred Luohans, each displaying a different emotion, like emojis.

But back to the reason I went up to the mountain. I had to shout in my big girl out door’s voice:

God, why isn’t your voice as easy for them to hear as Cortana’s?  Would these young men still be around?

Would my marriage still be as happy as Bob and Carol Brady’s, Laura and Rob Petrie’s, or Cliff and Clair Huxtable’s, that is, before Bill Cosby got charged with sexual assault?

I mean, turn up Your volume, already. It’s loud down here!

So I lit a handful of incense knowing the great Prayer Post Office in the Sky could sort out the prayers intended for the God of Mega Churches with hip pastors sporting goatees from those addressed to long eared Buddhas or the elephant head Ganesh.

A white cat crossed my path, and I took it as a sign of good luck, as did a turtle, an Asian symbol of good fortune, as it represents longevity, power, and tenacity.

Then I whispered, “Uh, God, did you put these creatures here?  Are they my  rainbow, my dew on wool fleece, a thunk on my thick head to remind me you haven’t lost number?”

That’s what I’d like to think.

Then nature called so I went into the ancient restroom, squatting in a stall next to a monk. Honest to goodness. I wanted to look over the ancient wall to see how she held her robe when she did her business… but I didn’t.

Even I have my limits.

She smiled as I washed my hands, her shaved head crinkling, my eyes trying to figure out the shape of a tattoo branded on her forehead.

The bathroom encounter reminded me monks are humans with noses that can endure a lot of smells and ears that are tuned into God.

It’s not up to God to be a Cortana, but for me to unmute my internal speakers, as easy as pressing Function F8.

Before I left the temple,  I rang the bell three times, the birds stopping their tweeting to listen.

And in typical Ginger fashion, I didn’t have a plant to get down the mountain. As I waited in front of the temple, hoping that a bus would show up, a silver van pulled over, with two school girls huddled in the back seat. The driver, who looked like he hadn’t heard of a substance known as shampoo, asked me if I wanted a ride.


The two young girls giggled as I crawled in, never had been in a van with a white haired měi-guó rén. One struggled to ask, “You know Bible?”

“Doi,” I said with a nod. Why else would I dare crawl in a van with total strangers without seat-belts or airbags?

Her eyes swelled into dark plumbs, excited for me to have faith, the faith that at times seems like a ball and chain instead of an anchor.

Gosh, I want that to change. I want to hear God’s voice with the clarity of Cortana’s or the huge bell at Qiongzhu Si.

But not hating God’s voice like I Cortana’s.  I can’t imagine God asking me ask me if I want SOS pads on my shopping list.

Maybe God is talking to me, through white cats, turtles, pink incense sticks, giggling girls in the back of tinny vans, huge bells and monks tinkling in ancient toilets.

And maybe even through the putting sound of a five person motorbike sandwich.



3 thoughts on “Are you there, Cortana?

  1. I have wondered that myself lately. So eloquently expressed as always. You have such a gift. Hugs, J

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