triste ambulant – day 19


“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4


Tonight is supposed to be an excellent night to step out after 10pm (Virginia time) in order to see the annual December Geminid shower.  There are not supposed to be any clouds tonight and the moon will be subdued.  No need for telescopes or binoculars.  Stay away from porch lamps and street lights.  Let your eyes get used to the dark – then look up.  Somewhere between 20 and 120 meteors per hour will rocket through the skies above you.  Some may even appear to leave something of a faint smoke trail behind them because, relatively speaking, these little burning rocks are traveling quite slow when they hit our atmosphere.  You will quite literally be seeing these sand-size bits of rock burn up – flame and smoke – in our atmosphere.  It will look like the little shooting stars are coming from the constellation Gemini – thus the name, Geminids.


This annual night shower was first observed way back in 1862 – Emancipation Proclamation, the USS Monitor is launched (in the second year of the Civil War), the Battle Hymn of the Republic is published, and the Battle of Fredericksburg takes place .  The galactic mother lode for these little bits of rock has seen a lot happen on Earth since 1862, hasn’t it?  Interestingly, the Geminids – unlike most meteor showers – do not come from a comet trail but, rather, come from the trail of the asteroid Phaethon (ancient Greek “shining”).

I’m going to state something obvious now.  Sometimes the most obvious things are what we most easily disregard or forget about first, aren’t they?  Maybe we become numb, or too casual, or too overly confident with the obvious things in life.  Well, anyway, here it is…

If the sun is shining, we can’t see the Geminids.  If it is cloudy out, we can’t see the Geminids.  If the moon is up and very bright, we can’t see the Geminids.  It must be dark to see the Geminids.  We can only see the Geminds when it is very, very dark.  

There, that wasn’t too bad, was it?  It is pretty obvious, isn’t it, for all of us?    

Now, how about this?  In Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the author writes the following for Raskolnikov, his lead character: “The darker the night, the brighter the stars. The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”  Raskolnikov is struggling with issues of morality and mortality.  He begins to think that a long, slow trek to redemption must necessarily have him pass through his deep dark valleys of loss, pain, and suffering.  Late in the tale and in the deepest depths of Raskolnikov’s personal hurt and pain, Raskolnikov begins to see glimmers and evidences of who he believes is God.  And he begins to find renewed strength and courage.  ”The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

I believe this is obvious but, perhaps, we don’t like to admit this characteristic of God like we admit other things that are obvious.  ”The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”  We can’t believe that God is waiting for us down at the bottom of our grief.  We can’t imagine that God finds habitation in the narrows of our hurt and pain – waiting to give sustenance.  We can’t fathom that God can find quarter in our darkest suffering – patiently biding his time in anticipation of our acknowledgement.  Yet, I am coming to believe that these places are where God is at his full strength and in his full stature.

You want to find God?  Well, he is in lots of places, for sure.  And yes, he is out on the mountain tops, in colorful sunrises and sunsets, in beautiful music, in the gurgles of little babies, and in the kindness of friendly people.  He is in all those places.  But he is also – and most profoundly manifested – in the deep dark reaches of your aching mind and soul.  He waits there for you to see him and acknowledge him.  He waits for you to ask him to help you up and out of your morass.  He will gladly mourn and grieve with you, but he will also offer to feed and nurture you even in the hardest times that you can possibly imagine.  He can move strong and powerfully in your lonely hurt – you just need to let him.    

“If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” (Psalms 34:18 MSG)

Looking for me?  I’m down here.  With God.

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