Sunday, December 16, 2007

Well Water

When I was a kid we lived in a house that had well water. Sort of. The well was running dry. The water was brownish and the pump once sucked air.

I don’t know if there was a drought or some subterranean dilemma causing my parents to promptly move to another house.

Sitting in church today I felt a little lift. Not a big one, just a little of my old self responding to the worship music. I shut my eyes, stood up, raised my hands. I was the only one standing.

I didn’t care.

For a moment I felt connected to God.

It was like the water pump in my well had gulped a small surge passing through the water table.

I was watching TV last night with Brenda and an ad came on for worship CDs. The faces in the commercial seemed completely transported by the music they were singing. The advertisement implied that purchasing these CDs would make me feel good too.

I didn’t say anything. Brenda is just keeping up appearances of her faith and I didn’t want to say anything which might seem critical of our faith.

But I was thinking about something.

I was thinking that faith isn’t like that for me right now. All joy for God's love, radiance beaming from my face.

I don’t feel enraptured by the relationship I have with God.

I feel something more... serious.

I don’t hold God responsible for the problems in my life. I understand how the choices people make, a natural result of free will, can create situations which harm me. I also understand how a living world, such as ours, will have disasters which hurt people as well... earthquakes which shrug mountains, volcanoes which vomit toxic gases.

I love God.

Not because of what He can do for me, healing me of my psoriasis (which is acting up again, splitting my skin), or leading people to come alongside my wife and encourage her... I love God because...

How can I explain this?

I am so very sad, so very tired. So much so that I have trouble praying.

But I pray, I still pray, sort of.

I have been having trouble asking God for things, even things that are very important to me. Instead I have been having conversations with Him. Just stating what is going on, what I am feeling, what I think.

I know He is listening.

More importantly, I know He is real, He exists, because I can sense Him in the wonders of the universe, the elegance of the balance of things great and things very small. I know He is real because of the odd gaps which continually appear as science pushes forward and our Lord smoothly maintains the space for faith, deftly sidestepping faith-destroying proof of his existence.

When I raised my hands in worship this morning it wasn’t because of the wonderful skills of the worship team or the inspired lyrics and melody of the song writers.

I raised my hands because I knew He was there, holding me close while He holds the universe together.

This isn’t to say the music had nothing to do with my response. In fact the lyrics of the song which opened and closed the service fit the sentiment I am awkwardly trying to express here:

"It Is You"

As we lift up our hands
Will You meet us here?
As we call on Your name
Will You meet us here?
We have come to this place
To worship You
God of mercy and grace

It is You
We adore
It is You
Praises are for
Only You
The heaven's declare
It is You
It is You

Holy, holy is our God Almighty
Holy, holy is His name alone, yeah
Holy, holy is our God Almighty
Holy, holy is His name alone

It is You
We adore
It is You
It is You

As we lift up our hands
As we call on Your name
Will You visit this place
By Your mercy and grace
Holy, Holy is His name alone

I love Him because He is God and I am not.

I have felt this low, this sad, only a few times in my life. I do not think my marriage is going to make it (I may be wrong). I have been thinking about divorce and that I won’t make a decision about it until after the holidays (no sense in creating that association for my children).

I do not despair or blame God, or think suicidal thoughts (though I couldn’t help staring at a policeman’s gun the other day, which was weird, thinking about that deadly tool hanging so casually from his hip).

I still feel God is near, though our conversations often begin with:

“Dear Heavenly Father, SHIT!!!!!!... I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!...”

My pump has been sucking air of late, the water is brown...


I am here, He is near, that is enough.

Fresh water will somehow flow again, I know it.


Anonymous said...

We are right here for you Will. I'm so glad you are sharing your journey of life and faith and hell.
This is real. This is what God, friends and faith is all about. Right here.

love you and respect you...

Anonymous said...

you are loved will just as you are period. by God. by all of us. i saw you standing w/ uplifted hands. we all of us should have been on our feeting doing the same. if we only grasped just who it is we worship. in him we live, move, have our being. sleep well my friend, aggf

Ame said...

Yes. Yes. You articulate this place well. A place where we are grateful God can handle "shit" and a whole lot more. A place where the Holy Spirit interceded for us with groans that words cannot express. A depth. A knowing. An understanding. Often tears would flow from my eyes while singing worship songs in church during this time. How could I explain what was transpiring between my Lord and me? I could not. No one asked, so I didn't have to. But I was transported to a different place ... with my Lord.

MMM said...

As I read, I looked across the desert dunes, and saw you there, a shrouded figure, arms upraised. From my vantage point I could see the trembling fingers, raised reaching for the Lord, He Who inhabits this place and all others.

I am so glad you felt a little "bump". It is like the quickening of new life, and it was yours. Amen, Abba! Amen!

Between my Lord and myself is that same mysterious space, that place that only happens there. Sometimes, hearing about the great discoveries in other people's temples, I long to visit. But the moment I darken the door of a tabernacle that is not mine, the experience changes to mine alone, and I would not usurp the ultimate MySpace, that place where you build things and God helps you make plans.

But, and here is the wonder of Our Lord, I can send tendrils of thought toward Him, for you, and He takes them and runs. Not away from me, but to you, His child, who is so tired.

And to Brenda, and Jeremiah and Isaac. To all of you He is all there. I remember once reading that God was the only entity who could be fully Himself with each and every one of His babies at the same time.

Lo, He is there. And I am here.

Amrita said...

Your sorrows are not wasted Will. We are with you in Spirit reaching out in love and prayer.

in the blackest moments of my life when i was tempted to take my life I felt God reaching out to me.

bjk said...

How can I explain this?

You do by living it and that is enough......prayers for your whole family. love in Him b

bjk said...

How can I explain this?

You do by living it and that is enough......prayers for your whole family. love in Him b

curious servant said...

We had a rough evening last night. We sat on the porch, watching the light drizzle become intermitant sprinkles... and spoke about the mess of our lives.

I said something which often leads her to a violent reaction.

She was complaining about how she is so unhappy... that the events of our lives, the burdens of her mother, of our children, the death of Willy (15 years gone this past Saturday) traps her in an unhappy life she can never escape.

I said it once again:

"There are a lot of people in the world, most with greater challenges, greater problems than us, and they are happy. There are people in the world with easier lives than ours, and they are unhappy. The evidence indicates that happiness is independant of circumstances."

She screamed at me that she doesn't want to hear about happy poor people, that I have no right to tell her how to feel, to never say such a thing again.

I got testy. told her she had the right to feel whatever she wishes, but she does not have the right to tell me what I can or cannot say, what to think.

I told her I am not saying she should feel a particular way because of a comparison to others.

"You are the one who made me so unhappy!" she snapped.

"Brenda, I love you, I want to help you anyway I can, but I am not responsible for all of this. You were unhappy before I ever met you."

She went to her AA meeting, came home, argued her point a little, we become more civil.

Woke up snuggling.

I'm not happy with my life. I am very depressed. But I know that how I feel is not entirely based on external things, such as her infidelity, her lack of love for me,but that I carry within me a certain capacity to see things one way or another.

Being depressed right now is partly from stress, partly from a nearly impossible situation, partly from lack of rest... But I know that it is not who I am, what my life is about.

I'll keep sitting beside the well, listening for the fresh water to gurgle down below.

Judas Hate said...

Sometimes when the well runs dry, it does not refill on its own. It has simply given all it can. It is not the fault of the well, the water, or of he who does his best to maintain the well.

So in our thirst, we desperately try to fix it. If we try to refill it, will the remaining muck at the bottom be flushed away, or will it contaminate the fresh water?
Trying to dig a new well in the same place is almost always futile. If there is no water in the ground, the well will remain empty despite all your hard work to rebuild. Do you move on to a new place to build your well? Will there be water? Will it be clean? Will it cleanse you?

Sounds to me that Brenda gets so angry when you say those things because she knows you're right. But that only makes her feel worse, more angry. She's angry with herself and she can't hurt herself more than she already is so she takes it out on you. Part of the problem is she can't forgive herself. And she needs that more than your forgiveness.

A conversation from a movie comes to mind:

"Why does he do the things he does?"

"Because he's angry?"

"About what?"

"Being born."

I think sometimes, for some people, anger is all they think they have. They don't realize that it really has them.

I've not been around as much not because I don't care, but I have not been doing so great. Busy, sick and in pain. Waiting for answers. Trying to act normal.
But even when you don't see me, I am here for you.

As always, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, Will.