The world hides God from us,
or we hide ourselves from God,
or for reasons of his own God hides himself from us,
but however you account for it,
he is often more conspicuous by his absence than by his presence,
and his absence is much of what we labor under and are heavy laden by.
Just as sacramental theology speaks of a doctrine of the Real Presence,
maybe it should speak also of a doctrine of the Real Absence
because absence can be sacramental, too,
a door left open,
a chamber of the heart kept ready and waiting.
~Frederick Buechner from Telling the Truth
…my faith has weathered in a holy way;
it’s larger, gentler, especially as I have learned to bear the needs of others,
to pour myself out at least a little bit like God does for me.
In that offering, I’ve learned a lot about God’s quiet, ever-present nourishment.
A larger, patient acceptance has come to me.
I haven’t found every answer, I still ‘want’ so much more of God than I have,
and yet, I also have learned to live with the holy hunger that is the groaning
of God’s Spirit within me as I wait for the full coming of the Kingdom.
~Sarah Clarkson reflecting on Buechner’s quote above
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
To wait is a hard sweet paradox in the Christian life. It is hard not yet having what we are promised will be coming – truly Real Absence for now. But it is sweet to have certainty it is coming because of the footprints we have seen:
He has been here among us.
Like the labor of childbirth, we groan knowing what it will take to get there, yet we are full to brimming already.
The waiting won’t be easy; it will often be painful to be patient, staying alert to possibility and hope when we are exhausted, barely able to function. Others won’t understand why we wait, nor do they comprehend what we could possibly be waiting for.
We persevere together, with patience, watching and hoping; we are a community groaning together in sweet expectation.
This year’s Lenten theme:
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4: 18