When I was new at West Hills Friends, a woman stood up in Open Worship and spoke with great emotion about feeling separated from God. Though she cried out to God with longing and grief, she could not feel God’s presence at all. I listened to her in shock, for I had never felt that way in my life. It was as unimaginable to me as hearing someone say they had never seen the sun, and I understood for the first time how merciful God has been to me.
Because God has been vividly present for me every moment of my life. I remember sitting alone under the pines when I was very small and feeling God beside me. When my baby sister was born, I knew she was here because of my prayers, and felt quite pleased with myself! When I was 9 years old, I wrote this poem:
Listen to the merry hum of the bees
As they pass through the tall while clover.
Who can say they are not saying, “I love Him, I love Him,”
As they pass through the tall white clover?
During the years when I was a wild and troubled girl, God was ever near. When I woke up hungover in a strange part of town with no idea how to find my way home, God was there. When I was weary and spent and ready to surrender, God took my hand. In my darkest hour, in my moments of greatest joy, God sang to me.
My niece asked me if I believed in God and I told her that was like asking if I believe in my hand. God is as obvious to me as a knock-knock joke. But there have been times when God’s presence has been overwhelming, when God’s voice was too loud. I once wrote in a song:
Oh, you’re in my personal space,
Why don’t you jump back, Jack?
You’re getting in my face, Lord,
Please take a big step back!
So now that I know that it is not so for everyone, how do I explain the gift I have been given? I am sure it is not due to virtue. It is just part of my make-up, like my ability to memorize music instantly and my struggle to learn people’s names. Perhaps God has simply called me to bear witness whenever anyone wonders if He is still there, to say that I hear Him, I feel Him every hour.