Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Void

Tonight I'm thinking about what I heard a writer call "the void." He was talking about spiritual matters, and "the void" was a spiritual thing. Think of it as a deep, cavernous empty space, but I'll get back to that.

I thought about Mother Theresa. Did you know that when she first got the call to go to India she was ecstatic. Never was her relationship with God more blissful. I think of Mother, singing a praise song to God that nearly rivals the Magnificat. Yeah. It was good like that.

She went to India to work with the suffering Christ in all His distressing disguises, and do you know what happened next?

C'mon, take a guess. She is on the mountaintop, hearing from God to do this great work. She obeys with joy and then...

Well, it was then that God went silent, and she didn't his feel His presence like that for 50 years.

That's a long time to go without the warm fuzzies of the faith.

Sometimes, I ask myself if I could endure that. Fifty years! God is so good. He gives me a whole lot of warm fuzzies. Maybe, it's because I was (still am, truth be told) Pentecostal. I needed a God I could feel. I came to Christ in a Pentecostal church. I think God knew that would be a good jumping off point for me. So, warm fuzzies, a little shout, arms lifted, hands raised, palms up--these are the things that I used to draw closer to the God who drew close to me. And sometimes, when I'm in church feeling His presence, it's like the Holy Spirit is hugging me. It's a blessed, blessed thing when He comes like that.

Maybe He reveals Himself to me like that because I'm so immature spiritually that He has to show up, sprinkling glory like tiny squares of golden glitter on me. I don't know. What I do know is that I'm loved, in sun and rain, darkness and light. I don't always act like I know, but I do. I wouldn't be here if I didn't.

Lately, God has been quiet. I don't feel spiritual butterflies, or get warm Holy Spirit fuzzies. I try to go on about my business, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God. I miss it, though. I miss feeling the Spirit.

Which brings me back to the void. Some of us live in the void. Some sincere, loving, amazing Christians never get a warm fuzzy in their entire life. They never feel any tangible presence of God, and yet, they are assured He is with them. Maybe it's like a pregnant woman and her unborn. The child is within the mother, nourished by her, tasting what she tastes, the spices, the sweetness, the sour, and the salt. What the mother has, is given also to the baby. What our Father God has, He gives to us. Isn't that a comforting thought, that we are nourished and sustained by a Holy Spirit umbilical cord to the Father (Julian of Norwich believed Jesus to be in some ways our Mother God). I know, that's some interesting family dynamics, but I'd gladly take Jesus any way He wants to give Himself.

But back to the void. I would be lying if I said that I'm always up. By no means do I live on the mountain top, but it's rare that I don't think God is with me. I have my doubtful moments. I've had voids so black and empty that it was a strain for me to want to keep on living. But here's the thing I read in that book: Love is in the center of the void. We are not without God. He is always around, even when we cannot sense him with either physical or spiritual sensors. What we think of as a void, maybe just the thing God will speak to in, just like in Genesis. His "Let there be light" can come anytime, and when He does speak, we emerge from the void brand new.

Now, isn't that grand?



Mahogany-D said...

You know me so well. It's almost like you speak directly to me when you write. I am sure others feel the same way. It's all because it's really God speaking to me through you. Thank you for allowing that to happen. I am going to a new church this morning. Yep, back to my Pentacostal roots. I've missed the hand raising, hand clapping, speaking in tongues, God is right there feeling. Thank you for sharing. Love you.

olympiada said...

Nice post Diva...I am in the midst of great suffering but also in the beginning of AA recovery. I have always been in control of my drinking but I have decided to work an AA program cause I just wasn't getting enough in Al-Anon.
I would like to see a post on the Orthodox understanding of suffering myself.

Paula said...

I like this. It's saying you'll trust Him when you feel Him and when you don't. You'll hope when good things happen and when you can't see His hand. You will rest in the conviction of His presence. That's my goal for tonight . . . and my life . . . as well.

s-p said...

Hi Mair,
check out my blog...I found my manuscript on "the void" that I wrote about 16-18 years ago.