Two months ago I went on 7-day solo walkabout in Death Valley. There were days of defiance, days of sorrow, and days of being still and knowing God through absence.
As I walked the interconnected rims of Ubehebe Crater, I thought of the many circles of return I’ve lived, through a lifetime of relationships…
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
~ Rilke from The Book of Hours (Love Poems to God)
One of my favorite theologians is Karl Barth. He wrote in 1922, between the World Wars. Barth argued that the God who is revealed in the cross of Jesus challenges and overthrows any attempt to ally God with human cultures, achievements, or possessions. We can not know God through this world. The new world of the Holy Spirit touches the old world of the flesh, but touches it as a tangent touches a circle, that is, without touching it.
In other words the point of intersection between God and humanity is that of a crater left after an explosion (Christ being the explosion).
The concept of knowing God’s presence not in the midst of the void but as the VOID itself comforts me. Maybe because there is a kind of evidence in absence. It’s easy to GET this in Death Valley.
Death Valley IS the living image of God’s presence in absence. Being still here I felt God with me, all around me, holding me, assuring me through the psalms that…
God stays near broken hearts – and heals the wounded spirit