Sunday, December 14, 2008


Madeleine L'engle wrote, "Deepest communion with God is beyond words, on the other side of silence." In my small understanding of monastic life, of people who walk in constant or deep and daily prayer, in the life of Jesus, and many more, a theme that is present in each, is that of silence.

Silence before God. Silence with God. And having faith when God is, or feels, silent. I think that is part of the "other side of silence," God is beyond our scope of understanding and in our finite perceptions, while God remains ever present, we remain restless wanting a booming voice. When we sit in darkness we want tangibles - God doesn't work in tangibles, well not most of the time.

Yes here it will sound obsessive . . . but the season finale (season 1) of Joan of Arcadia is entitled, "Silence" and much of the episode walks through these spiritual awakenings, these understandings of death and life's consequences and for Joan, of trust and silence.

God says to have faith in the silence but when He is silent she doesn't know what to do. So she pushes Him away. She tells Him to leave. She claims she does not believe in Him, that He is not real. And this is made worse by people around her not believing her, not seeing that her experiences with God were not hallucinations but true manifestations of God in her daily life.

How many times have I had the conversation with God where I tell Him I don't believe in Him or tell Him to go away? I remember clearly crying out to God and begging Him to leave me. There is a metaphor in the episode that I will surely state incorrectly but it went something like this: Believing in God is like getting into a pool. You put your toes in to test it and then your feet and then you get to the point where you are wading in the water. But then the water seems scary or the temperature feels off so you step out of the water, but even when you are out, the water is still there. It always is.

I am not good at it and I resist it, but I try to sit in silence. Sometimes in the muck of life where I know the darkness feels darkest and I just need to be there and wait. And I have to know, know in my gut, in my heart that God is sitting there with me, in the muck, in the darkness and that it may be silent, but I'm not alone.

Madeleine L'Engle also wrote the following, and it is how I feel too:

"I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly."

1 comment:

Jenny said...

By your mentioning it, I've added the Joan of Arcadia season 2 to my Netflix queue. It's time I saw the end of the series!

I also love that pool illustration. I have never heard that before.