Wednesday, October 22, 2014

for the melancholy days

Today was saturated with melancholy.  It drenched me as I dreamed dreams of not belonging, it greeted me in the tossing and turning in the minutes before my alarm sounded, it followed me like a ghost through my work day of falsely cheery greetings and lack-luster customer service, and when I arrived at the assisted living center to play music for my elderly friends, it gave me a far-away look and a penchant for haunting hymns.

Abide with me
Fast falls the evening tide
The darkness deepens
Lord, with me abide.

And so it went.

Today I feel the desert wandering more acutely than most days.  Today I feel the need to quit everything "productive" I'm doing in my life and go off into an obscurity that maybe, just maybe, will yield the presence of God.

~~~

The hymn book from which I play at the assisted living is the hymn book of my youth.  This has always been a nostalgic thing for me, something that conjures up happy memories of choir like voices uniting in praise to God in four-part harmony.  But tonight it was a double-edged sword.  Tonight the hymns of my youth were a constant reminder of the fragility of that institution which I thought was so sure.

I think up until recently I didn't let my home church's current troubles affect me on a personal level.  I think I thought they'd figure it out, that they'd come to the light, that they'd just magically get over it.  After all, that church was my rock growing up.  It was the source of my spiritual education, my discipleship, my social life, my...well, it was pretty much everything.  If they can't get it together, no one can.

Of course, confidence in human institutions is always a bad plan.

~~~

I don't always deal with change well.  If I'm not at the helm of the change, I feel the lack of control very acutely.  My small group has changed dramatically in the last few weeks.  From a small group of people I trusted discussing the Bible together to a large combined group of opinionated people, things have changed, even if only temporarily.

The center of gravity has shifted, and we're now talking in certainties.  I can speak that language well, and last night I gave it my everything.  The topic was safe, so we spoke in faith and certainty.  Next week isn't so safe, and I likely won't be talking.  As that last vestige of "maybe I can be real with someone here" falls away, I'm reminded yet again that God must be my everything.

Even in the questioning, He has proven himself faithful.  Even as all else fails, He is good.

~~~

I wandered through the open field in the park across from my apartment complex tonight.  The stars were brilliant, and I aimlessly wandered, soaking in the splendid isolation.  I am alone, and it's disconcerting at times, but it is also beautiful in its way.  As I drift outside of the camp of belief in which I have spent my whole life to this point, as I explore the furthest reaches of my faith, I am increasingly confident that God is with me. I don't know where it is all leading, and I know I'm so far off on so many things.  But God is here.  He's distant and unreachable, and yet He's all around me.  He's just beyond the fabric of this reality,

Tonight I stared up at the stars in frustration with a God who I cannot see or touch.  I asked him where He was.  And this song began playing in my earbuds (Jenn Johnson):

I am the Lord your God
I go before you now
I stand beside you
And I'm all around you
Though you feel I'm far away
I am closer than your breath
And I am with you
More than you know

Even if it wasn't God talking to me, it was certainly a good reminder of the faith that I hold in an invisible God.

To that I'll cling, no matter what.

~~~