The Silence that is God

About a week ago I played a meme in which I spoke of God's silence and my loss of hope. Someone recommended this book. Well, the first page of the preface convinced me that it was the right book for me at this time...here is and excerpt from "Listening for God" by Renita Weems.

"Some years ago when, as a minister, I was feeling that God had withdrawn from me and I was going through what I can only describe as a spiritual breakdown - questioning seriously my belief in God, prayer, religious texts, and rituals to such a degree that I couldn't bear to talk or read about anything to having to do with the sacred - it never dawned upon me to retire my clergy stole and leave the ministry...it dawned on me that ministry was precisely where I needed to be because I no longer recognized the presence of God in my life..."

"Two things kept me afloat during that period of my life. One was my own honesty. I tried at first to lie about what was going on in my heart, acting as though everything was fine, pretending as a minister and writer that I had an active prayer life and enjoyed intimacy with God. That lie went on for far longer than it should have....Eventually I gave up pretending, however, and confessed to God - loudly, bitterly, sometimes in blasphemous tones - that it felt as though I have been seduced out into waters where God knew I couldn't swim, and been left abandoned, without a life jacket, to flail about and figure out for myself how not to drown..."

She goes on to speak about moving into a place where she accepted the silence of God as a new way of God being with her. That things weren't the same between she and God but nonetheless she began to perceive God in "new, amusing, laughable, glorious ways." She credits her ability to be and stay honest with getting her through from one place to the next.

My blog will be a year old in a week. I named it "Seeking Authentic Voice" because I have been this person, for whom God has gone silent. I no longer know myself in reflection to the God I have trusted all my life. The God whose presence assured me and led me to believe that all would be well. I have been sure of nothing these last few years. except that God is silent...and I'm trying not to drown. I do feel like God seduced me. Called me back when I was lost, gave me people to be my guides until I was securely anchored in the Church. I mean, can one be much more anchored than being ordained and the solo pastor of a church? And then, anchoring me into this life, God left, the wind and waves picked up and the chain attached to anchor, that which held me in place, snapped, and I've been tossed in heavy waves ever since.

I suspect the direction of the wind is changing and the tide is turning.....

Comments

sometimes i feel as if when i am "out there" doing more than i realized to build up the kingdom of God (in myself; family; or church) then that is when evil - or the enemy or those darn forces of a darker nature (which are not of God) come in waves... pounding; relentless waves so that spiritual navigation becomes burdensome at best.

then... we float and drift and perhaps back away from whatever we were doing that was God-centered; powerful & good even though we might not have seen it or known it or labeled it as such.

in the end i usually find God has not left but the waves keep coming with such ferocity it's hard to catch my breath... hard to see the light poking thru the surface... but it'll come... i trust for me and for you as well.

the book sounds awesome... read on!
RevDrKate said…
That is truly an awesome book. It "fell" into my life in one of those times when I needed it most. I wailed my way though it and have never forgotten the comfort her words and wisdom gave me. May it be so for you as well.
Gannet Girl said…
You and Mother Teresa.

I do think that the loss you are experiencing is a profound gift, to you and those to whom you minister.

Of course, that doesn't ease either the emptiness or the pain.
Songbird said…
I'm glad you're finding it helpful; I know I did.
Preacher Mom said…
I find myself in a similar place these past few months. Hearing your voice, learning of the honest struggles of Mother Teresa, and remembering the words of this book you have discovered (it is a great one) all give me comfort. Thank you for your honesty.
Mary Beth said…
You are in my prayers...
Jan said…
Your authentic voice and bravery show forth to us all. What sustains me is what a Catholic priest and professor told me a few years ago--that the thought of the absence of God IS God. This priest had done his dissertation on Karl Rahner, so I think that comes from Rahner, but I find him too difficult to read. Still, that always comforts me. You noticing God's absence IS God--what do you think of that?
Serena said…
I love Renita Weems ... and so love how you express these feelings, that I too have known. I pray that "the direction of the wind is changing and the tide is turning..." for you, as it has for me. ((((o))))
mompriest said…
jan, i think it takes awhile for one to accept and become comfortable with God being in the absence, especially if one is so used to God be present - i mean it just freaked me out for a long while..wouldn't you agree that that's part of what causes the despair and darkness?...those words may have been Rahner's but I suspect that priest knew them to be true for him as well...as do many of us.

and, preacher mom, i've been wondering about you and hoping things were settling down (seems not)....i need to come over to your blog and see what you've been up too...

thanks everyone for the support and understanding, it means a lot to be able to share these feelings and be embraced by this blog-community. You all are awesome. (And thanks SB for recommending the book...).
Diane said…
this is a book I am going to get. and I am so glad that someone
recommended it to you and you found it, mompriest. I am so glad that the tide is turning... I'm away tonight, but I will be back to listen more deeply.
I wish I was there...we really are serious about getting a trip to Chicago together. I'll let you know when it's scheduled.
mompriest said…
woohoo, I look forward to that trip down this way! hope all goes well getting your step son back in school...
revabi said…
Ahh that silence. That great silence. And yes yell and scream.

I hope the wind is changing and tides. And may you find your authentic voice.

I like Renita Weems.
That sounds like a really good book.

Ditto GG and others: You and Mother Theresa. You're in good company.

Myself, I finally realized that I had to believe in God in order to be angry at his absence and silence. Some of those times it was just because I was traveling in such a way that he was in my blind spot. Other times, I just figured he was bored with me for now or pissed off. When I finally see him, it's on my "what was THAT about? list. If I remember to bring it.
Katherine E. said…
This is the 3rd or 4th time I've returned to read your post, mompriest. So very compelling.

May the turning tide and the changing wind continue in hopeful directions for you . . .
Barbara B. said…
Interesting you should say that, katherine e., as I've returned to read it numerous times as well. I'm still processing it...
Diane said…
I have read this post more than once as well... has got me thinking about many things, past and present...
mompriest said…
I'm looking forward to this week, when my family is back at school or work and I have more quiet time to read the book...
lj said…
Beautiful, honest post. I suspect many of us in ministry (most?) have been in some kind of similar place one time or another. Weems' book sounds like a good companion for this journey. I also recommend Richard Rohr's "Everything Belongs" and Sue Monk Kidd's "When the Heart Waits."

I love Presbyterian Gal's image of traveling in a way that God was in her blind spot. Sometimes I think God is there purposefully. Perhaps to make us seek all the harder? Who knows?
mompriest said…
I like Richard Rohr and Sue Monk Kidd, thanks for the recommendations.

Yes, PG's metaphor is a great one, God in the blind spot....
Diane said…
oh, I like the "blind spot" image too...

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