Darkness and Deepness
You Mystery of mysteries
You Secret of secrets
You Darkness and Deepness
why are you hiding?
I find You creeping through my window with the dawn,
see You lingering on the ledge,
I reach to let loose the latch, and find only your ash—You Fire that purges clean.
I watch You walk towards me in afternoon light,
witness your simple motion consume the surrounding,
I wait for you to arrive, and am met only with your mist—You Water that quenches drought.
I observe your rising with the moon,
anticipate your additional light,
I stay my eyes in your direction, and find a cloud, your mask—You Wind that moves earth and sky (and me).
Oh God, where are you hiding now?
Where can I find you now?
(Darkness and Deepness, October 2008)
While reading Psalm 77 for this reflection, I was reminded of an old poem (above). It was written during an era of silence and yearning. I had certain expectations for God to be an obvious and completely knowable actor in my life. However, my own way of knowing God consisted mostly of cerebral wonder, distant reverence, and confusion. I sought an interactive relationship with anticipation. I expected the Spirit in all things, and yet, I struggled to find God up close.
If I am honest, I continue to experience long seasons in which I can easily relate to these sentiments. I know what it means to earnestly search for meaningful interactions with a God who can seem to be simultaneously all-present, and yet, still hidden.
It is in this same state of desire and desperation that we find the psalmist turning to his memories of God’s work. He steadies himself in his dark time by meditating on the Spirit’s movement in the history of the people of God. As we read, we watch his wonder transform into praise.
Recently, one of our daughters questioned, “Why do we have to go to church? We can just learn about God at home.” I suppose that is what it appears the psalmist is doing—alone, and comforting himself. I suppose we could do the same, from the ease of our own living rooms. However, I have realized that, unlike the psalmist, I am not very good at “remembering” on my own. When I am alone, in the middle of a deep and dark silence, my mediations on God keep me asking: “Where are you hiding now?”
And so, I have learned to join in others’ remembrances. I have learned to call the collective memories of the people of God “faith”. Now I can answer my daughter’s question with honesty and hope. Participating in Church—in its variety of forms—grows my belief in the movement, action, and voice of God. I am reminded of the history of the people of God, passed down in Word, tradition, and sacrament. I see us stumbling towards more fully displaying the image of Christ through collective conviction. I hear stories of personal transformations by a Spirit who whispers generous truths. I hear of how God moves individuals and families with meaningful, pillar-of-fire direction. I am exposed to new ways of interacting with Creator; my doubts in prayer are questioned. I can see the arc of redemption: here, and still coming.
When I participate in a community of faith-filled people, I am witness to others’ God experiences. This, perhaps most significantly for me, reminds me to keep looking for my own—no matter how long the silence persists.
Reflections on Psalm 77
The Calm in the Storm (a reflection on the psalms)