Written 11th June 2019
I keep trying not to pray.
I’ve caught myself at it a few times - like, halfway through a journal entry I’ll lapse into writing sentences addressed to some great ‘You’. Or, when everyone else is asleep and I’m lying in bed - the light switched off, covers up to my ears - I’ll start whispering out a few hoarse words into the dark.
If you’re there…
Half-prayers. Snatches of words. What are they exactly? An attempt to reconnect? Or just muscle-memory - an old habit that lingers in spite of it all? I’m not sure. But I’ve been unable to get much further than: please. And then I remember, and my eyes fill up, and - fists clenched, teeth gritted - I stop myself.
Because surely a good god wouldn’t need me to ask.
A good god, I keep reasoning, wouldn’t have let things get this far.
And if He’s not good, I don’t want to talk. (What’s that line again? About not negotiating with terrorists…?) It’s easier to assume He’s just not there. It makes things feel a bit less personal…
This is what I tell myself. To talk myself out of it. Praying. To talk myself out of -
God, if you’re out there…
And then I catch myself: back at it, again.
Can you just…?
Sunday after Sunday, almost against my better judgement, I keep going back: stepping forward at communion, holding my breath during the intercessions, reciting the creed like it’s a love song I once sang with a full heart, reaching out, sharing the peace…
Going through the motions.
Not sure if they mean anything.
Pretty sure they don’t mean anything.
Wanting them to mean something.
Wanting them to -
Please, God… if you’re there…?
This desire - this longing - for a benevolent Someone to be out there, listening – and not just listening, but really inclining His ear towards me, and caring, and choosing to do something to intervene instead of standing coolly by – goodness, it’s such a hard idea to shake off isn’t it? It’s a difficult thing to un-learn, even when the odds are unfavourable. It’s such a compelling, beautiful, slightly crazy notion - one I keep stumbling back to, despite all my best efforts. Because where else can I turn?
But, hear me, O Author, O Tree on Fire: if You are there - I’m not coming before You, head-bowed and plaintive.
Thy will be done,
I’m not worthy to receive You -
I’m sorry, but that whole “well, my ways aren’t your ways” line just doesn’t land with me these days. And I’m not interested in “suffering builds endurance”…
No. If You are listening, then, dear God, I hope Your love for me really is steadfast enough (I hope Your ego is strong enough) to withstand my anger. I guess I ought to be saying, ‘blessed be Your name…’. But all I can seem to muster is:
How could You?
It’s not fair.
I know You could fix this if You wanted to -
…so, say the word only
and fix it.
This picture was taken at St Mary’s Monastery, Kinnoull, April 2017 // I found myself in a narrow spiral staircase (Was it a bell tower? I’m not sure…) and looked up to see golden-hour light coming through the little windows.
It was kind of beautiful.