We’ve all heard the phrase, “You can run but you cannot hide.” I have found this to be true in my own experience when it comes to God’s presence. Regardless of my physical location, state of heart or circumstance, if I can awaken myself to it, I have always found that there is a Divine Presence that never leaves me. No matter what.
This Presence is not a menacing, watching-my-every-move presence that is there to catch me red-handed. Rather, when I can enter stillness, even in my darkest, most despairing moments, the Presence that I have experienced is as gentle as my next breath; as reassuring as my own heartbeat.
Today’s Lenten reflection word is: NEAR.
On the morning after my beloved husband died by suicide in our home, I found myself alone in the house after my sister had gone home for a few minutes to get a clean change of clothes. I was still in a complete state of shock; my body sensing a kind of buzzing feeling that I imagined someone might experience after being hit by lightening. My mind was simultaneously racing with thoughts and completely numb. I was as lost as lost could be. And God seemed as far away from me as the closest neighbor in the house pictured in this blog post. Never had I felt utterly and completely Alone.
I closed my eyes for a moment, and heard an unexpected sound. At first it was very faint, and I strained to hear it; almost as though I was turning the dial of radio to find bring to clarity the faint, scratching sound I heard. After a few moments, I recognized the sound. Crazy as it may sound (and I know that this DOES sound crazy!), I realized that it was the sound of purring, and it was coming from the walls of the room I was in. I looked to see if one of my cats was nearby. Nope. I tuned in to hear the hum of the refrigerator. No, this was a different sound than that. I closed my eyes and let the purring sound resonate in my ears; so much so that I could almost feel its vibration.
There was a Nearness in that sound that felt like coming home, and I knew that it was God; there to bring me the sound that had always been so comforting. It was exactly what I needed to carry me in one piece until my sister returned to be with me. And somehow, I sensed that my husband, Randy, was near too. There was Beauty and Light in a moment of the ashes of despair.
I don’t have a scientific explanation for how this happened. That’s not at all important to me. God was near and that was all that mattered.
While the walls in that room have never purred to me since, I often think of that moment, and of the words of the psalmist, David, who had also seen his share of tragedy:
“God, investigate my life;
get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can’t take it all in!
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!”
~ Psalm 139:1 – 12 (The Message)
Maybe not always in purring walls, but I know from firsthand experience that God is always near.