Yesterday one of my professors, new to me this year, asked me, "Are you the woman who lost her son last year?" And then he said, "In the face of such loss, it is so difficult, impossible, for those of us who are pastors to know what to say."
"That's because there is nothing that you can say," I responded. "Silence is better than whatever painful and inadequate words you have."
I realize that it sound as if I have changed my tune. But I don't mean that ignoring a loss is better than not; I mean that some things can be honored only in the silence.
Even, or finally, by me.
Also yesterday, one of my friends told me that last year in one of his classes, another classmate said that he thought that death by suicide was a matter of laziness.
I suppose that in such a situation I would have things to say. I suppose that by the time I finished saying them, I would no longer be contemplating a future in ministry.
I used to say that I was one of those who experienced God more in God's absence than presence.
But this absence is so vast, this void so immense . . .
Some would say that God seems absent because God invisibly fills the wild dark void.
One of my best friends told me tonight that he cannot imagine me, after the past year, engaged in any form of traditional church ministry.
That would seem to me to be the case.
I walked six miles today. I think sometimes that I must be trying to walk to Pluto, or to another galaxy entirely, in the hope that from there I would have the perspective needed to see ~ what, exactly?
In my dreams we talk and talk, but I know that I am alive and he is dead.
For a long time, my idea of the afterlife was that it was where we would find things out. Why did the dinosaurs go extinct? How far does the universe extend? Do we have company on other planets somewhere? What is a black hole, exactly? Death as encyclopedia.
We used to take our children to Florida every year, and late on each last night, I would go out to the beach to say good-bye to the ocean. I would wade into the water and marvel at how black it was at night. The waves would roll in and recede, just as they did in the daylight, and sometimes the path of the moon shimmered across the sea. But the water swirling around my feet was always enigmatically opaque.
The silence is vast and empty, the gravitational pull of a black hole prevents the escape of light, and the sea is dark.
That is my report.