Monday, April 13, 2009

You'll Never Walk Alone?

April is the cruelest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain
-- T.S. Eliot, from The Waste Land

One of the most terrible aspects of grief is the sense of isolation it produces. You'll never walk alone? Hah! You think that insipid Footprints poem is right? Hah! You subscribe to the "If you feel far from God, guess who moved?" school of comfort? Well, I am a fucking rock of immobility, and you don't know shit about either theology or human hearts.

Guess what? I haven't moved. I'm standing my ground, and I'm holding out hope for the God who has numbered the very hairs on my balding head, the one who is intimately involved in the everyday, mundane details of my life. And sometimes I catch fleeting glimpses of that kind of God, and sometimes I don't. But I figure that if "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me. The best, the most proper response I can offer right now is to cry out, to yell. That's the stimulus/response package that is shot through the Psalms. Shit happens, and you cry out. But you cry out to God.

Right now people are not cutting it. Even the most kind-hearted, well-intentioned people -- and they are out there -- are not cutting it. And it's simply because the words don't help. I appreciate them. They are meant to soothe, to let me know that others care. And I am grateful for the fact that they do. But the loneliness is suffocating. No one else can enter in to this. No one else can walk through this. It's the God-shaped hole. Humans cannot fill it. And, for whatever reasons, God sometimes chooses not to fill it. It's just a hole, a big, cavernous abyss that echoes with questions like "Why?" and "How long, O Lord?" Everybody dies. We live in a fallen world. I get the theology. But the theology doesn't help when I look at my sister, or her husband, or my 13-year-old niece. I'm willing to stand still and live with the pain. But don't you dare tell me that I moved.


Amy said...

Yep. Sap that God juice -- !@&% on.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


Darren said...

Andy, I reread the Psalms a couple years ago, soon after my mother- and father-in-law were murdered, and was pretty well undone by the horror (in the Heart of Darkness sense) and fierce anger expressed in so many of those passages. When I looked around my church each Sunday, I couldn't understand why we were so eager to wall that shit out. Or how we'd gotten so good at it. I still don't understand it.

That reading gave me a new appreciation of The Psalms, though. Mostly I'm impressed by the discipline of the writers. God abandons them? Vacates the "God-shaped" hole? They keep writing. It's a pretty devastating expression of a muddy, complex faith.

anchors said...

Words of truth Andy...I know them all too well

Christopher Barker said...

Given that the anniversary of the Hillsbrough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans-- mostly young-- died, is today, this post takes on a level of significance that is astounding.

I get it, Andy. I'm sorry. It sucks.

I heard an interesting interpretation of the "God Shaped Hole" recently. It isn't that every human has a God Shaped Hole that must be filled, but that those who have experienced God feel a God Shaped Hole when God isn't close, and this is what a believer longs for. I'm not sure if that's helpful, but there it is.