I’m propped upon pillows in my bed. It’s daytime, but the room is quiet. Isolated. In the distance there’s a periodic hum of neighborhood traffic. The humidifier bubbles. Sometimes the heater hums. I watch a shadow on my wall. The spiny needles on the dancing limbs of an evergreen sway on this unexpected screen.
Those dancing limbs mesmerize.
I glance left to the window, but the tree is outside of my line of vision. Still, the sun projects the tree-image, painting a square, window-shaped display, right there in front of me.
The movement gives hope. A promise, maybe?
Another cough demands my attention. I hold aching ribs so the cough doesn’t hurt so much. But that makes it hard to cover my mouth. It’s this awkward struggle to know which is more important. To protect my side from piercing pain or my bedroom air from more germs.
Maybe I have COVID-19. Maybe I don’t. According to the on-phone doctor, my risk factors and “mild to moderate” symptoms don’t make me a primary candidate for a test kit. At 4:55 this morning, that thought made me cry–not that I’m not being tested, but that theses symptoms are at best moderate, which means out there are people who feel worse than I do. I cry because the racking cough and breath-stealing mucus would be such a horrible way to go.
Are they, too, isolated? When it’s the end? (In the darkness, the drama builds.)
This morning I hit the crying stage, so that means I’m about to get better. Life, like books, hits the bleakest moment right before the resolution. (Or maybe books like life?)
The angle of the sun has changed. There are no more dancing shadows on my wall.
Funny how I have much to say, and yet I stare at this screen.
For about three years I’ve been a writer who couldn’t write. I sat in that thought this morning–tears streaming. (Of course today is crying day, so, dear reader, I wouldn’t think too much of all this talk of tears.)
This morning I watched church on-line. Only it didn’t feel like church. It felt like my very own heart played out in front of me on that screen, through someone else’s lips.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Not because I’m sick. Not this illness.
Just . . .
I want to hear His voice again.
I’ve heard Him before. In the joy of nature, the love of others, the whisper of my heart. In seasons I’ve heard Him clearly. Like in real words that pour from His Spirit within me and out upon the pages of journal after journal.
It really happened. One friend called me a mystic. Another a Psalmist.
But, in the last years, God’s silence has deepened.
Now it’s this crazy faith walk where I don’t hear him like before, feel Him like before, see Him like before, but I can’t deny the truth that He is there. I see the results of His hand. The miraculous stories of the last three years of my life would make you catch your breath. Only God. Only GOD. ONLY GOD.
But while His movement has been clear, His voice is muffled. Who am I kidding? It is worse than muffled.
My God, my God why have You forsaken me?
He hasn’t. I know He hasn’t. I see Him working still.
And I know the truth. It is He who promised to be with me until the end of time. My God, (The Holy Scripture says it, and I believe it, experience it) will never leave or forsake me.
Because His presence has nothing to do with me earning it. God’s constant, never-forsaking, always-there presence is a gift of Christ.
He was forsaken. When Jesus cried out upon the cross, asking His Father where He was, Jesus took everything upon Himself that separated the creation from the Creator.
Now separation is over.
Jesus chose to be forsaken–for that space of time–so that you and I would never, ever, not-even-once be.
But that doesn’t negate the silence.
And yet the Lord is never really silent, is He? What I heard from that on-line preacher sunk way down deep. And validated my life. And nourished my hope. And reminded me that all is well.