This one’s from September of 2013. It’s kind of a dark one. In reading it again, I see that I don’t talk about communion, that is, the bread and juice, at all. Even Jesus isn’t talked about much. But I guess I speak to something that we all share, something we all have in common.
There’s a short video making the rounds of Facebook, or at least it was last week, sorry if this message is a little dated. I can’t really show the video here, as it’s comedian Louis C. K., who’s not really family friendly. He’s talking to Conan O’brien on Conan’s talk show, explaining why he won’t let his girls have cell phones. The point he makes that I want to talk about is when he says that deep down inside all of us is that scary, dark, empty, sad place. And that when we notice it, we immediately need something to distract us, to help us forget about it. He said that that’s why people text and drive. That something reminds us of that darkness within us, and we immediately have to distract ourselves with who’s saying hi, or we have to say hi, or some other inane thing, even at the risk of killing ourselves and others.
This isn’t a new thing. The texting while driving thing may be. But people, even god’s people, have been trying to distract themselves, to fill that place for as long as there have been people. Noah had his wine. Abraham was a liar. As was his grandson Jacob. King David, god’s chosen one, distracted himself with adultery. His son, the wisest man in the world, tried to fill his life with women and things.
And we see this happen today with god’s chosen, those Christians in the spotlight, all the time.
And we, the regular folks, do the same things, using all kinds of things to distract ourselves from the fear and pain at our core. Some of these things are more socially acceptable than others, but the list is pretty much the same as it’s always been: drugs, alcohol, food, sex, possessions, power.
I think it was Billy Graham that talked about the god shaped hole that each of us have, that empty space that only god can fill. This may be what Louis C. K. was talking about. But I struggle with what that means, what it means to fill that empty place. Does it mean believing in an old bearded man in the sky? Does it mean saying a special prayer and getting baptized, going to church every Sunday? I don’t have an answer, but I don’t think any of those things are going to keep you from experiencing those times of anguish.
When I started writing this, I thought my conclusion would be that we need to fill that god shaped hole with Christ’s greatest commandment, to love god, and to do that by loving our neighbors. And I still think that’s about as good a way to live a life as there is. But I think I’m going to agree with Louie’s conclusion. He said we need those dark times. That when they come, we shouldn’t distract ourselves with booze or food or texting. That we should embrace the anguish, know that relief will come. In the bible these times are expressed through laments. The Old Testament is full of them. And think of Jesus in the garden, begging god for a way out. And later on the cross, crying out to a god who has abandoned him. Even Jesus felt that way. Part of who we are, maybe, is to feel that emptiness sometimes, and to stay with that loneliness, so that we can know, like Job and Jeremiah and Jesus, that we have a god, who doesn’t take away the dark times, but who is with us during those times, even when we feel forsaken, and will be with us when the dark times are over.