The Presence in the Absence – A Timely Re-posting

southwest-trip-392This short post is among the first to appear on this blog – dating back to October of ’06. In the light of conversations here over the past few days, it seemed timely to bring this back to our attention. I I have written on the topic of the absence of God (or our sense of it) since the beginning of my work. And even though conversations with contemporary non-believers can be tedious – they are very much worth having – if for no other reason than most Christians have a great deal of non-belief in their hearts. I also believe it is the particular calling of contemporary Orthodox (in this I follow St. Silouan of Mt. Athos) to empty ourselves and enter the abyss of the spiritual hell our world has created for itself and there preach and pray – for it is there that the contemporary Adam has confined himself – and it is there that we must also find Christ. The emptiness of the secularized world – the first floor of a two-storey universe – is a man-made hell, the place in which we have exiled ourselves from God. We will not find God by looking elsewhere for it is here that He is present and filling all things. It is the mystery of our faith. I have reposted this original article without change.

 

There is a strange aspect to the presence of God in the world around us. That aspect is His apparent absence. I read with fascination (because I am no philosopher, much less a scientist) the discussions surrounding “intelligent design” and the like. I gather that everybody agrees that the universe is just marvelous and wonderfully put together (I can’t think of a better universe). But then begins the parting of ways as one sees God everywhere and another sees Him nowhere. Reason surely need not deny Him, though reason does not seem forced to acknowledge Him. I have spent most of my life around these arguments – one place or another. I can stand in either place and see both presence and absence.

But as the years have gone by, I have come to see something I never saw before – the Presence within the absence. I don’t mean to sound too mystical here – only that I see in the hiddenness of God a revelation of His love. The Creator of us all draws us towards Himself and knowledge of Him, with hints and intimations, with seen and yet unseen signs.

The strange deniability that He leaves us is the space in which love is born. Love cannot be forced, cannot be demanded. It must come as gift, born of a willingness to give. To give God trust that what I see is indeed evidence of the wisdom in which He made all things is also a space – one which God fills with Himself and the echo, the Yes, that the universe shouts back to us.

It is where I grow weary of the arguments – not because they need not be made – but because it becomes hard to hear the silence in the noise of our own voices – a silence that invites us to hear the sound of the voice of God that rumbles all around us.

There’s more to say – but not now.

Comments

  1. says

    Photo: Not Buddha under the Bo Tree. It’s me exhausted from a hike in ’06 in Zion National Park. I used a lot of Southwest shots the first year of the Blog.

  2. DavidD says

    I have made something of this same observation, the fact that God has not provided irrefutable evidence of His existence is an act of love toward humanity. If it were not so, our rebellion would be as the angels and there would be no hope for repentance. In requiring faith, relationship with God pushes us ever deeper – it can never be a cold, sterile FACT. It is moving forward, growing, or it is receding, dying.

    Well, forgive me, a sinner. These are just thoughts I have had.

  3. Karen says

    Dear Father, bless! A timely repost, indeed! What you say here really resonates with my recent experience–both with my disabled friends who are in crisis this week and in following the comments under “A Faith That Cannot be Defended:”

    “I also believe it is the particular calling of contemporary Orthodox (in this I follow St. Silouan of Mt. Athos) to empty ourselves and enter the abyss of the spiritual hell our world has created for itself and there preach and pray – for it is there that the contemporary Adam has confined himself – and it is there that we must also find Christ.”

    As I mentioned in another comment,