Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hello God; It's Me, Gannet

When I was sixteen and in the 11th grade, I did not believe in God.  Five years of VERY religious Catholic and Protestant boarding schools,  and the result was that I considered religion to be a ludicrous invention of a desperate humanity.  (I have a college student who sees things in the same way.  He has no idea how much consideration I give to him.)

Nevertheless, I do recall one winter night in western Massachusetts, when I stood in the snow on a hillside under a sky filled with stars and asked, "God, who are you and what are you doing?"

In some ways, I am still that girl.  Without the long, long brown hair.


This ~ breast cancer:  surgeries and all the other unpleasantness it entails, months and then the rest of my life being attuned to the possibility of disaster  ~ is turning out to be, in terms of my experience of God, nothing at all like that of three years ago, after Josh died.  

I don't understand what happened three years ago, and went on for months and months  ~ in the expletive deleted middle of seminary ~ but I do see now that it was a dramatic and deep break from anything that I might have thought or imagined about God. Even in my most cynical 16-year-oldness. It was a place so hugely empty, so very dark, so completely lonely, so desperately sad ~ no wonder no one seemed to understand what I was talking about.  And no wonder I was so agitated and angered by some of the nonsensically pious words people tossed my way. Parallel experiences that intersected nowhere.

Now, looking back, I believe that I got to know God a little better.  At least one small, and very silent, dimension of God.  I have a deep sense of God's presence and labor in places where it seems evident that God is not.

I also think that there was some considerable grace there in that I survived to tell the story.  Literally.

A situation is brewing in my little church.  The timing is most unfortunate: Advent, and a pastor learning to navigate post-cancer treatment. Aren't those enough? I am supposed to be the leader, the wisdom figure to whom people will turn.  I have no idea whether they will do that or not.  I am surprisingly calm.  Anesthesia brain or a genuine confidence in God at work?

Who are you and what are you doing?


Humor persists.  I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon this afternoon.  That phrase, "my plastic surgeon" ~ it would completely crack me up if I weren't so exhausted.  (He's very cute, and smart, and funny.  I hope he is as skilled as his reputation indicates).  I am going to have a plastic surgeon in my entourage for a long time.  

Life is bizarre.


Image: There are some kids at church who want to know what God looks like.  The Helix Nebula, I think.


  1. As a geeky sort, I'm finding the image of the two parallel lines to be a very powerful one...

    I was reading Rahner last night -- preaching at the end of WW II about the same thing. Who are You and what are You doing in the face of what has just happened....

    Victor has a plastic surgeon in his entourage as well!

  2. Presumably not for the same reason?

  3. Sometimes the situations that develop in little churches are a bit like children testing their parents..."will you still love us if..." as they proceed to show how broken they are and in need of love....of course sometimes that love needs to be about clear firm boundaries....:-)

    Praying for you...Your community.....and giving thanks for the tender grace of God.

  4. ....different section of the body, but a not unrelated problem.

  5. I imagine that you're going to find out that from the perspective of the pastor there is ALWAYS a "situation brewing" in a church. It is a group of people, right? :)

    You're not the end-all-be-all-answer-to-it-all but rather the very human, very capable, very well trained, and very loving shepherd in the midst. You're going to do great in that job and in comforting and guiding your flock!

    Love reading your blog - really, it is a great meditative way to start the day. Thinking, praying, and feeling connected.