It was Tuesday and I was summoned home with the news that my father had collapsed in his study. Two hours later and he was at the hospital awaiting tests. Thankfully these turned out to bring positive news. There was no heart attack and no stroke and so I picked him up at the casualty unit and returned him home. However by the next morning he was still groggy, incoherent, weak, having succumbed to an infection that can hit an eighty-something with such devastating effect. Amidst all this I had to contend with a mother whom dementia and heart disease have rendered particularly unable to withstand such shocks.
Such is advent.
I sat in the front room, as my father slept in his bed nearby, in full view of the lough. Somehow the vision sustained me – the grey-blue, sun-ruffled surface, the birds diving unpredictably into the gently troubled water, the soothing, beautiful, indifferent, tidal stillness.
Yes, the indifference. The thought that none of this cares for me. Its transcendence. Its inpenetratable afternoon glory.
Could it be that God himself should sustain me thus – his absence, high above mortal concerns, his self-withholdingness, his surface unpenetrated by my terrors, my fears and my desires, including the desire I might have for – and the fear I might so often feel of – Him.
Have I domesticated God to someone centred on the human lot when he has ample star-studded universes to cast his mind over? Have I created an interventionist deity in the image of my own loves and hates? Is he ultimately, epochally absent from this silent planet except in the occasaional moment, that resonates down through the ages, of testamentary brokenness, cross-bound, nail-pierced, forsaken?
Deus absconditis, hope of things to come.
i sat in my room