Awful silence

Belief in a God of infinite mercy and transforming love means [to] hold on to the belief that there is no place from which God is absent. […] God’s silence signifies not absence, but total engagement. God becomes silent in order to be with the silenced. It is an ultimate act of love to be able to enter the awful silence and suffer together.

This, once again, is from Barbara Glasson, A Spirituality of Survival: Enabling a Response to Trauma and Abuse.

Everything that one can tell of God is as much lying as it is telling the truth

Anne Carson’s essay, ‘Decreation: How Women Like Sappho, Marguerite Porete and Simone Weil Tell God’ (in Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera), offers some intriguing thoughts on love, the self, God etc., while at the same time engaging in interesting ways with the three women mentioned in the title. She quotes Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace) as saying:

God gave me Being in order that I should give it back to him. … God allows me to exist outside himself. It is for me to refuse this authorization.

Having read Weil’s Waiting for God a little while ago, I am quite tempted to add Gravity and Grace to my burgeoning reading list as well.

Carson also quotes Marguerite Porete, who says of God that ‘His Farness is the more Near’. Carson comments:

I have no idea what this sentence means but it gives me a thrill. It fills me with wonder. In itself the sentence is a small complete act of worship, like a hymn or a prayer.

Porete’s phrase captures the tension of divine transcendence and immanence well, but I also love the way Carson expresses her fascination with it. On the same theme she once again quotes Weil, who remarks that ‘God can only be present in creation under the form of absence’.

Here, finally, is another Porete quote, this time expressing her apophatic theology:

For everything that one can tell of God or write, no less than what one can think, of God who is more than words, is as much lying as it is telling the truth.

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Divine love is incessantly restless

Some quotes from Belden Lane’s The Solace of Fierce Landscapes to complement my previous post:

The starting point for many things is grief, at the place where endings seem so absolute.

Divine love is incessantly restless until it turns all woundedness into health, all deformity into beauty, all embarrassment into laughter. In biblical faith, brokenness is never celebrated as an end in itself.

God can only be met in emptiness, by those who come in love, abandoning all effort to control …

… tragedy in one’s personal life can be trusted as a gift of God’s unfailing presence far more than trances, raptures, or visions received in so-called mystical experiences.

Referring to Moses’ and Elijah’s experience of God, Lane comments:

In both cases, their ‘seeing’ of God on the mountain was but an interlude in an ongoing struggle, given at a time when the absence of God seemed for them most painfully real. Transfiguration is a hidden, apocalyptic event, offering to those facing anguish a brief glimpse of glory to come. It incorporates a theology of hope into a theology of abandonment and loss.