Chapter 26 » 26.27

Ways of seeking

It’s a funny thing about God, which I still haven’t understood. If you say with all your heart: He isn’t there, then oddly he isn’t. He seems to withdraw. In the same way, just not noticing produces the same results. He doesn’t come thrusting himself into your life if you don’t want him there. (I recognise that some people will want to say that’s exactly how God came to them, but I think this is a different matter.) Yet if we say: God, I need you, then he moves closer to us. If we start the conversation, surprisingly it does not simply seem to fade into empty space. A sense of presence gradually begins to make itself felt.

Now I really don’t know how I’m going to convince you of that. I also hear people telling me: I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. And that’s also perfectly true, as we all painfully know from our own experiences. I know it’s true and a very blank feeling it is when we have it. Yet I also know that the presence of God is as real, as the absence is negating. I begin to recognise that ultimately it is not for any intellectual reasons that I believe in God, nor even possibly as a result of my emotional state, but simply from the growing sense that when I call he answers.

I don’t find it easy to write this, for I also need to overcome the sense that you will find what I say faintly ridiculous. However it seems worth the risk, because the alternative is rather bleak – that there is, after all, no converse with God, because we do not begin the conversation. All I want to say is that once the conversation begins, one does not want it ever to stop.

Tony Brown, 1984

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