The past four or five weeks have been more difficult than I could ever have imagined. I thought with time that things were supposed to get easier; at least that’s what some people said. I don’t think that’ s true. If by easier they mean more routine, more normal, than I guess they’re right. Things have gotten more routine. But easier? I don’t think you can ever grow to love someone only to lose them and not feel like their presence was only a day away, just slightly out of touch. This is the feeling, or at least the best way I can describe it. The temporal evanescence of memories is quickly replaced by the immanence associated with a song or an image or a thought. Even the nominal day to day stuff. Last night, while planning meals for the rest of the week, I opened a cookbook only to find her substituted ingredients of a meal that I can now almost taste on my palate. A mere recipe has an ability to put me flat out on the floor. Imagine what an empty bed can do.
I miss the sound of the shower. I miss the sound of the typing of a keyboard that is not my own. I miss the laughs, the footsteps, the sound of a door opening after a long day of work. You never really know, even, how much noise a person’s breath carries in a room until that breath stops. God, why did it stop? Can I not hear it just once more? Sometimes I think that I do, only to realize that it is my own imagination. The dumb mind plays foolish and evil tricks.
Repetition does not make death easier; rather, it taunts you into submission. It causes you to pretend like life is normal, even though the world is falling in around you. A simple making of a sandwich becomes meaningless, almost sickening. I can’t tell you how many meals I’ve made and then chosen not to eat. Why, you ask? Because what desire is there to eat when you have already died inside? This is not melancholy or a plea for pity; this is what happens when death confronts you. It rips into you like a beast of nature and tears limb from limb, only to never be satiated or leave.
This is what the darkness does. This is what silence does. And I am faced with them, left only to make a decision to stop and stare at them or run in fear. Silence creates noise like you’ve never heard. Voices full of lies; it creates confusion and hatred; it creates contempt and sorrow; it creates bargains which are beyond reason and thoughts which try to impose as memories. Voices full of lies.
This, I think, is where Jesus stops being a flannel board character or an arbiter of moral social conscience. It is where confrontation happens and it is where Christ exists in total and complete opposition to silence. I must realize that my God died with an unanswered question: God, Why have you forsaken me? Think about this for a moment. I have thought about it a hundred moments. God, himself, not only knew, but died with unanswered silence. It is not so much comfort as it is a recognition of how God is present with me. He does not exist independent of this situation; He exists within it.
I am still working out exactly what that means. Sometimes it is helpful knowing that I am not alone in silence; B’s words of God being “ever-present” even in the slightest crack in the dark have become my words. But I think it’s important for me to know that Jesus does not just exist within the situation linearly. He exists within it, transcendentally, in order to destroy it. Jesus kills the silence. Those are words of a song which I have identified with and words which, right now, poetically signify where my faith is.
On the day before B.’s accident I gave a presentation on Bonhoeffer’s theology of the cross. Little did I know how the next day, and those after, would make me ask whether I really believed what I had just presented. The words which I embedded into a portrait of a massacred and crucified Jesus come from the pen of an inmate who knew silence and, ultimately, death at the hands of a broken world. These words have now become my own and the way in which I must presently understand God, for it is the only way in which I can make sense of both a world on its way to Hell and a God who went through that Hell on his way to us:
“God allows Himself to be edged out of the world and onto the cross. God is weak and powerless in the world, and that is exactly the way, the only way, in which God can be with us and help us.”
These are my words now, God. Jesus, kill the silence tonight.