The Conversation

I was almost out the door when I read the message: the illness was back, her already weakened immune was being attacked once again. No, this isn’t the end. But it’s tricky. My prayers are full with her lately and I worry. I worry that the life of the woman who gave me life will somehow be cut short by all this.

My throat tightens.

A few moments later, another message. The car had spun out but somehow he regained control and arrived safely at work.What would I do had it happened otherwise? How lost I would be without him, I thought. Still, there is someone, somewhere, who will face this news today and how lost they will be.

In the near empty church, I took a seat and with everything that had happened I sunk deep into prayer.

I sat quietly and gave thanks and soon found myself in silence. There was nothing left which could be said with words. Sometimes, we speak through our actions and other times we speak through our silences. And as time passes, the more I am aware of how God uses both to engage us.

 

It was, as I have come to expect, a disappointing homily that morning. But he had my full attention when he said God had nothing more to say to us, He had said it all through Christ. The final word had been spoken.

How sad it must be to live with the belief that God no longer speaks to us, the conversation having ended nearly two thousand years ago. Since then it has been radio silence, or so he thinks.

I suddenly imagined we were voices in an empty room.

 

He meant well but he was wrong: God is always speaking to us. God, the one who is “Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:6) is speaking to us, through us.

YHWH, His name, all aspirated consonants. A name that can only be truly spoken with our breath. We speak His name constantly. But who takes note of their breathing? Only when it is ragged and labored do we pay it any mind. Only when we are gasping do we seem to notice it. We wait until we are breathless.

Through this unconscious process that keeps us alive, we engage with God, always.

 

The irony is that this conversation, which is so often little more than an ongoing whisper, can sometimes be deafening. It rings and echoes in every aspect of my life, my whole being vibrating with the sound, precisely because He is Life itself. He speaks through us and in us and nothing in our lives is outside the bounds of this sacred conversation.

Perhaps if we did away with our expectations we’d realize that God has never stopped speaking. It is only us, through our arbitrarily imposed limits, who has brought the conversation to a halt.

 

 

 

 

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When You’re Asked Questions You Cannot Answer

No one was awake, the house was silent and cold. The mug of hot coffee warmed my hands but nothing else. For a few hours, both the house and myself were like a tomb. The dead among the living.

So I walked out and away from the dead house. I let myself be lead but still, I could not bring myself to go up those stone steps. And the bells didn’t ring so much as clank that morning. I turned away from the old church and leaned into my pain. What could have soothed me then, I do not know.

 

When people are difficult and hurtful and situations don’t work out as you had planned, I try to redirect myself. Try. I’m not always successful.

Because what could this moment teach me about Christ?

Could this ever bring me closer to God?

And how am I supposed to reflect that divine love to others when I feel broken?

 

What happened was wrong yet here I am under question. Brought low and humbled by the question of myself.

 

In questioning ourselves we should not be afraid. Merton once wrote to the effect that when we become the question, we also have in us Christ as the answer. Because we do not lack an answer. What we lack is compassion. Under it all, not just faith, should be compassion.

And I lacked in compassion when I finally chose to respond to the questions being asked.

 

What happened cannot be changed and the words I flung around, so carelessly, cannot be unsaid. He left for work and the memory lingered.

So I prayed for forgiveness.
I prayed for healing, calm, and peace.
That the bitterness and rejection not define us.
For strength to change. Hearts to be shaped more intentionally.

 

But I never asked why because I knew who the answer would be.

 

Living It Out

Every quiet word is a plea to put Him first, to make Him the centre.

But maybe I don’t know what that actually means or how to give flesh to those words. How do you respond to that which is given freely and always? And what of those days when even fervent prayer feels like throwing a pebble into an ocean?

I read recently that the incarnation is ongoing in us. God’s presence, right here, is felt through us. So the face we wear is the face God wears. And the words we speak are not just our own.

When we are cruel or thoughtless, lacking in compassion, we are saying to others that God is such.

It wasn’t meant to be this way.

So I’ll give my words skin and pulse and breath by living it out.

When I am wrong, I repent.
When I am wronged, I will forgive.
Where there is doubt, I will be faithful.

Give consolation freely,
and love abundantly.
Seek to understand, truly.

In the living of life, prayer becomes more than words but a a way of being. And in this, the Living God is felt and remains present. Imago dei is not just what we are but what we are called to do.

Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God. -Thomas Merton