Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!


Ok, I have to confess. My secret love is reading various forms of "news of the weird." Simply because truth is stranger than fiction. There's also a reason I generally stay away from certain websites--because something trips my trigger like I saw in this article, and get utterly frustrated that there is a glaring "You blew it, buddy," in the middle of what otherwise might have been a good article.

All in all, this article has some wonderful points to make about "being alone in the presence of God." But he uses a story as an example that, was, IMO, the absolute wrong place to use it, and basically shows this person really did not get what she was needing pastorally at the time. Take this interchange:
Someone once asked me to visit a woman he knew, who lived alone in her house. So I went to talk to her. “I wish I were dead,” she told me. “I’m just miserable.” “I’ve nothing to do, no place to go. What’s the point?” “Do you pray?” I asked her. “I’ve prayed to get out of this place for ages; and God simply doesn’t listen.” “Do you pray, not for things, but just to be with God?” “What in the world do you mean be with God?” she asked. “You know,” I said, “be with God out of love?” She stared at me blankly. “I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.” A chilling moment. Still, what I asked this woman, I ask myself sometimes: Could I ever be “alone” yet not be “lonely”? Could I make my home with God, even here? In a nursing home, in a hospital, in jail even? When I am old and left behind? Or would I be abandoned?

I read this, and it was obvious to me that this woman was simply feeling ALONE. What the author totally misses is that she was simply looking for what I call, "one of us being a cardboard cut-out for the presence of God." Yet he tells a woman who says "I wish I were dead," to essentially to go sit and be alone with God. Then he goes into his own head about whether he could be alone with God, really.

Arrrgh.

As a person more prone to be a "doer," perhaps one of the hardest things for me to be comfortable with is that notion of "sometimes people don't need you to do--they just need you to be."

I think back to a time when a friend of mine (now deceased) was undergoing chemo. People have a tendency to feel helpless when a friend is having chemo. Other than bring some food to the house, or be able to provide a ride when the person is feeling sick, there doesn't seem to be much to "do." It's just a lot of "wait." Wait till the person gets over the last cycle. Wait for the blood counts to come back up. Wait to see if it is working. I realized I was feeling powerless over my friend's wait.

Then something happened on one of my visits. She wasn't feeling great, but she was a little lonely and bored. So we just sat outside on the deck drinking Diet Pepsi and watching the birds and the squirrels. We didn't talk much other than commenting about the birds, the squirrels, the neighbor's dogs--things like that. We didn't really talk about her cancer--she was pretty sick of talking about her cancer at that point. We didn't really talk about anything of any great spiritual importance. We didn't talk much at all.

Then she turned to me and said, with the surprisingly huge grin on her face, "You know...this feels nice. I need to do this more. I wish I was better about doing this by myself. I'm glad you are here to do this with me, because I'm just not ready to do this by myself."

At the time, I thought, "What? We're not DOING anything!" It was long after she was dead that I finally got that she just wanted me to BE. Simply to occupy space in a stable way. To be a quantity of known love for her in an unfamiliar place.

Really, when you get right town to it, when we are in a place of despair, ultimately, that is all we want of God. We are still too weighed down to ask about the details of being delivered. Some of the things we know are inevitable, anyway, and unavoidable, and there won't be much physical deliverance from them. If your house is blown away by a tornado, you can pray all you want that it is magically returned to its foundations, and it's still not going to happen. We just want to know God is with us as we are staring at our bare foundation and a mound of debris. We just want God there as we start to pick through the rubble.

When we can't see that, we desire a physical presence, a physical something, a physical ANYTHING. That, I believe, is where people come in. It's hard to swallow sometimes this is not about "us," or how smart we are, or how good we are at fixing problems, or how clever we are at negotiating innovative solutions. It is about us being flesh representatives of God's love. It's about us being a cardboard cut-out of how that other person sees God. They look at us and know we are obviously not God--but they can see his reality in us. The trick, of course, is us accepting that reality as something bigger than us.

3 comments:

What odd? Of course a cardboard cutout of Arnold Schwarzenegger would cause deep discomfort and in some cases extreme anxiety (pointed in ones direction).

Hey, I needed a great come-on to get you to read the link to the much longer, much more serious article! LOL

Clearly we both went to the same school (even though I was in the Art Department)!

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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