Monday, October 4, 2010
It had been a time of spiritual wilderness. A long time.
He couldn’t really say when it started, or why. He knew it was about the time of that mission trip, when he unexpectedly met with a reality, a movement of spirit and force he had never before experienced.
In the aftermath of almost euphoria came a quiet, then an awareness of emptiness, a hollowness within his life.
He didn’t wander away, but he did wander in place. Years passed. The wilderness became normal, so normal that he would often forget the time before as a mere and vague memory, a fading dream he no longer recognized.
There came a time when he traveled to another, physical wilderness. Though with many others, he still sensed a separation, an aloneness, even in direct conversation. He knew himself well enough to know that the cause was spiritual. There was a distance from others, and a distance from God, he didn’t know how to bridge.
He tended to separation, even in crowds. He felt more at home there, as if standing too closely or talking too freely stripped away his defense from inclusion, or unveiling the vulnerability.
Sitting in a large room with the others, he didn’t listen to catch what was so elusive. The singing and music were good but didn’t touch the emptiness. He wasn’t really looking for something other than the emptiness that had by this time become his second, familiar, almost comfortable nature.
Then he heard the words. They weren’t some blinding flash of revelation. Instead, they were quiet intrusions puncturing into the emptiness, especially the emptiness around his heart. As the words continued, the intrusions became more pointed, more tearing, no longer quick jabs at emptiness but hard thrusts into the callus of his heart.
They were words coming from the same place as his own, and they knew him.
When the words stopped, he quietly wept. For the first time in all those years he could take the bread and wine and remember that they didn’t represent a friend or comrade but a conqueror.
He wasn’t healed. He knew that. But he was healing.
Bridget Chumbley is sponsoring a one-word blog carnival on healing. To see other posts, please visit her site.
Photograph: a view of part of the Laity Lodge property near Kerrville, Texas, courtesy of my cell phone.