I’m not always sure what faith should do when people hurt me, whether to cry alone or defend myself. My faith never would just sit in the corner and behave. It was always a dark and desperate shadow of a thing, always looking for more light, hoping for more love. More light and love than it ever got. You know? Always more. Never a contented child, safe in its mothers lap.
And yet…and yet…I always loved God. Knew him since I was too young to know Him. Remember the dark childhood hunger and cold and wet of abandonment, the crooked blinds of windows in a newspaper lined shack. The rescue of strangers. The torture of other strangers. The inexplicable horror. And the moon shining in a high window, throwing shadows of love from a Heaven I had yet to hear about. God. Always there. Even though I didn’t know His name.
And Someone there who loved me. Someone I could talk to. Who knew me and liked me anyway. A friend when everyone else failed or disappointed or scared me. The minute I got old enough to hear official church talk about God and Jesus, the instant I heard the first “invitation,” I walked the aisle. And every aisle afterward. Seeking, hoping, and never saying no. But confused by the people who named Him. Confused by the programs at Church. Loved some of it. Hated some of it.
Always Faith whispered, aloof, from the shadows. Always I knew when I saw the light shining in the window at night. Somebody was there. And they loved me. It didn’t even bother me that they were invisible. The evidence was everywhere, the reflected light of the invisible presence. The peace of leaves in the evening breeze and early stars, even in the midst of unkindness at school and duplicity at church and chaos in the streets.
He must be very patient, God. Must love with a power, a force, we cannot comprehend. In fact, the older I get, the less I think of “knowing” at all. Love is so much more powerful than knowledge, so irrefutable on its own. You can argue every point of doctrine and tradition in the Good Book and echoed in the rafters at the churches. But you lay it all aside in a minute for a whiff of love. And then, when you can, when you breathe enough of it in, walk in it a while, you love back. You love back and see that Love is its own reward. Instead of begging God for things, it becomes its own reward just to simply love Him back.
Then the miracles come.
Faith is not us trying, it is a gift from God. Always willing to sit unattended off to the side while we dance in a spot of light. Or seek comfort in the dark. More than many, I know why we suffer. It isn’t the lack of love, but the essence of it. The vortex of loneliness Faith feels when it is neglected. Love so fierce it misses our presence in its own eternal life. It will draw us back, by whatever means. Then we surrender. Because, truly, at the end of things we know, who else will catch us as we fall?
Overcome. That is the feeling of suffering. It’s not the pain or the sorrow or the loss or the inconvenience. It is that we are overcome. And, if we let it, Faith comes and tells us to go ahead, go limp and fall back, trust those invisible outstretched arms. When did we ever know this while we danced? While we kissed or ate or drank or shopped? When? But God loves us too much to let us stay away.
Only Faith sees the face of someone in Heaven who loves us. Who prays for us, holds our hand before the Lord Himself. Our advocate. Our lover. Our friend. Patient. Brutal. Kind. Insistent. The Patron Saint of Misfits, I think now. Loving me from a distant Home I can only imagine. Waiting for me. Taking my tears to the God we share. Whispering:
“You are safe. You are loved. You are not alone.”