Present in the absence

Image: Trung Pham Quoc

Spirituality can easily be equated to a blind, blissful obedience of sorts. We’re ‘spiritual’ people if we walk the straight-and-narrow, think the right thoughts, say the right mantras, and perform the right rituals.

God favors the ‘good ones’, but not the ‘bad ones’.

I’m sure you know what it feels like to be in a place where it feels…

to say the least.

You’ve been there, as have I, where our God — whatever form that takes, be it the old dude in the sky, alcohol, routine, the government, family, exes, practicality, etc. — fails to be there for us.

That thing that produced so much certainty moments prior is now an empty hole.

This, I’m starting to see, is the place where we’re most holy.

It’s easy to be ‘spiritual’ when your god is firmly in place. When you’re certain of the structure you’ve put in place around it.

But when life lays waste to your god, what remains?

When we enter our own darkness — where even the church dare not go — we find the real intensity of God to be present amidst our doubt and despair.

Even in our deepest, darkest moment, there’s a presence closer than flesh propelling us forward. It grows in power and intensity the more we deny it, as it demonstrates, it doesn’t need our belief

It. Just. Is…

…inviting us to claim the presence of the living God, showing us by experience that it’s not even close to ‘that thing’ we swore was ‘it’.

Although, in our despair, it seems to taunt us, we can also feel a deeper love that’s intense and unconditional.

This god is more alive in our doubt than it is in our belief.

At these times, although we may be on our knees, if we listen closely enough, we can hear her say…

No. That wasn’t me. But I’m still here.

And I’ve been here all along.

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