Thou art Replete with Very Thou

There are, I imagine, women, who faced with the death of their baby, that scream. Who do not care who hears them. Who can fathom no other reaction to such horror and grief than primordial and honest screams and moans. And I admire them. They possess an openness and a vulnerability that I lack.

I can imagine these women, but I am not one of them. My tears, by in large, are silent, hidden, held to myself. Expressed in the bathroom at work or at church, in a chair in my kitchen late at night, over my keyboard. I do not cry in public. My silent tears at my son's funeral were likely the last that many saw on my face. I do not cry in public. I have not screamed or wailed.

And I was thinking of these women, as I cried last night. I am thinking of their sounds, of sounds of grief that do not need words. Of sounds that slice through world hardened layers of cynicism, through pride and callousness. With only the dogs to hear me, I wondered if our friends know about my tears. Perhaps if they saw tears, they would be more moved to compassion. They would understand fear and pain and sorrow and longing a bit better. Perhaps then, they would leave themselves behind, and their falseness, and simply abide with us.

I have been thinking about fear a lot this week. I have gone searching through my Bible, and I can find references to fear, and I can find people who felt fear, and I cannot silence this voice in the back of my mind that tells me it is a sin to feel fear. My fear and concern and confusion run as deep as the screams of others. And I do not know what to do with them. They will not be satisfied, my faith will not rest with easy and simple answers. Broken by the cruelty of death and the callousness of others, I want to make sense of it all.

If thou could'st empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
And say, "this is not dead,"
And fill the with Himself instead.
But thou art all replete with very thou
And hast such shrewed activity,
That when He comes He says "this is enow Unto iteslf
- 'twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for Me."

Like I always do, I go back to scripture. And there are verses. Lots of verses. Telling me to fear God, and not the works of man. Telling me not to be afraid. But there are also stories. Moses, who did not want to tell Pharaoh to let God's people go. David, on the run. Stories of those who lived in fear. And nowhere do I see what I should do. I read for 3 hours last night, searching for the answer. Searching for the sentence that would tell me what to do, how to cope. What support to expect. How to get through these days.

I search out God. I ask about fear. The Christian duty of care. I ask what to do. I ask how to cope. I pray, not looking for pious platitudes of "take each day as it comes" or "don't think about it", but the big answers. The archetypes. How to live. What heartbreak means. What pain and sorrow and suffering and indifference mean and what they do to us. How to find joy and care and compassion. How to live in the unknowable. How to live in the pain-filled. How to live in a space where the lines between life and death, this world and the next, are so very faint.

And He tells me. Not in His word, not in the silence, no, He tells me in a children's story. About death, and life, about a deep and dazzling darkness.

"Thou art replete with very thou".

And I am not so sure I like this answer.

Sir Thomas Browne (1605 - 1682)
Quoted from A Ring of Endless Light, by Madeline L'Engle (1918 - 2007)