It’s been a rough month.
There are plenty of ways that could be said, but let me just say it that way.
I’ve been out and about some the last few weeks, but without feeling like I could settle down for a cup of coffee anywhere. It’s felt more like looking through frosty windows to the amber glow of warmth, and love, and maybe just plain old holiday cheer.
While I have plenty of words, I’m not sure they’re best shared beyond the nib of my pen right now. But all the same, I’ve missed talking to you all, and listening to you talk to each other. I’ve come to really love and appreciate the exchanges that happen in the comment box here, whether rapier wit banter, or nonsense, or penetrating insight and questions.
I’ve had a little time to read the last few nights, finally. I don’t know if it’s the exhaustion or the essay itself, but I can’t get past this one page in Buechner’s The Hungering Dark. So I’m going to let you have it a while too:
Those who believe in God can never in a way be sure of him again. Once they have seen him in a stable, they can never be sure where he will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation he will descend in his wild pursuit of man. If holiness and the awful power and majesty of God were present in this least suspicious of all events, this birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly or earthbound but that holiness can be present there too. And this means we are never safe, that there is no place where we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from his power to break in two and recreate the human heart because it is just where he seems most helpless that he is most strong, and just where we least expect him that he comes most fully.
For those who believe in God, it means, this birth, that God himself is never safe from us, and maybe that is the dark side of Christmas, the terror of the silence. He comes in such a way that we can always turn him down, as we could crack a baby’s skull like an eggshell or nail him up when he got too big for that. God comes to us in the hungry man we do not have to feed, comes to us in the lonely man we do not have to comfort, comes to us in the desperate human need of people everywhere that we are always free to turn our backs upon. It means that God puts himself at our mercy not only in the sense of the suffering that we can cause him by our blindness and coldness and cruelty, but the suffering that we can cause him simply by suffering ourselves. Because that is the way love works, and when someone we love suffers, we suffer with him, and we would not have it otherwise because the suffering and love are one, just as it is with God’s love for us.*
So. Talk amongst yourselves.
Is God really at our mercy? Can’t we ever be sure of him? How are love and suffering one and the same?
I’ll be the one in the corner, listening.
(Thanks again to all of your for your care, your love, your prayers, and for still hanging out with me. You mean the world.)
*Buechner, Frederick. “The Face in the Sky.” The Hungering Dark. New York: Seabury, 1969. Print.