I don’t remember a time when God was not part of my life. As a child when I got angry that my “guardian angel” didn’t protect me from harm, I didn’t reject God I fussed at God.
I have spent my life in dialogue with God, asking questions, giving thanks, seeking support. I never “heard” a response, no visions or voices, but I often felt God’s presence. I imagined myself being held in God’s hands, wrapped in God’s arms. I felt this often enough that the times when I felt the absence of God weren’t enough to overwhelm my faith.
I have degrees in theology and religious education. I have spent my professional life teaching about God and leading the music at school masses.
I wasn’t prepared for the absolute silence, absolute absence, absolute aloneness, that followed Malcolm’s death.
If there was ever a time when I needed to feel God’s presence it was the day after Malcolm’s funeral. It was worse than the day we were told he had killed himself. After the funeral there was nothing left to do for him. He was gone completely; I could never see his face again, never ruffle his hair. I desperately needed to sense God’s presence, to sense Malcolm’s continued life with God, to feel some confirmation that Malcolm lived on and would be with me in spirit until we could be reunited. It was more than a desperate need it was a complete and overwhelming need. Beyond words. But a silence descended, a profound heaviness settled on my heart, I was alone. The universe was empty; Malcolm was simply gone.
I wasn’t angry at God because I didn’t sense God’s presence at all. This was the time in my life when I most needed God but I felt completely and utterly alone. I know there were people who cared, but I needed the security of my faith. I needed to believe in the possibility of an afterlife. I needed to believe that Malcolm continued somehow, somewhere. But his death was like the snuffing out of a candle. After his body was taken away from me and buried in the ground there was nothing left of him. He was gone; his life was over. Forever.
That was two years ago and I have struggled with the decision to write about this. I was waiting for a shift in my faith, a re-birth perhaps. But it has been something much more subtle: the acceptance of possibility. Just that. And that will have to be enough for now.