I would be false if I failed to mention the loneliness. 15 hours of this past weekend were spent driving, over half spent alone, spent turning over in my mind the same old questions and doubts and fears. Then I came home to a silent dark empty apartment after living in a house of twelve for three days, and felt completely unknown.
I remember high school when I craved solitude, feigned sickness for one golden hour of silence and peace. Somewhere in the past four years, all this has changed…now solitude has multiplied and the quiet thunders in my ears. Even though I am surrounded by this communion of soul-sisters and brothers who love me and who do know me, sometimes that doubt creeps back in: that we are all just faking it, that what binds us together is not love but fear of the cold.
Today I realized I pray best when walking. My heart falls into rhythm with my steps, breathing out pleas and gratitude freely, my mind not quite so easily distracted. Alone, I walked farther today than ever before, asking God for a little clarity and a lot of hope.
There is no question about it; I am like St. Thomas, waiting—always waiting—to see and touch and feel and taste before commitment and surrender, before allowing myself the luxury of belief. And there is always the weight of shame that still I cannot believe, I who have witnessed with my own eyes miracles and transformation, I who have seen and have touched and have felt and have tasted that the Lord is good.
But something changed in me today. A word spoken, a reminder from outside of me that affirmed this season of soul-searching and not knowing who I am or why I am. So freeing to hear these same words that I have been saying and saying and trying to trick myself into believing coming from another mouth, spoken not as self-justification, but as words redeemed, spoken to me simply, with authority and power and grace.
As usual, nothing has actually changed. But at least there is a little more courage and a little more hope.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.