The Frustrating Silence of God


God has really been irritating me lately. I need clear direction and answers for some important questions about work, career, and income. I’ve tried prayer, meditation, sitting in silence, journaling, nature walks, talking to friends, guided visualization….The absolute silence is galling.

I appreciate lovely notions about “The Cloud of Unknowing”, Mystery, and letting go of certainty over and over again. Great. Beautiful. . . Now how about some answers!

  • Which option should I choose when pros and cons clash like hyper-partisans in Congress with no clear sign of what is for the highest good of myself, much less the rest of humanity?
  • While I’m at it God, how about answering for drought, AIDS, and violence perpetrated in your name?
  • For that matter, why not just lay out clearly the meaning and purpose of our existence in a way that can be understood and accepted by all cultures, races and religions?
  • And above all, please explain the popularity of the Kardashians.

Of course, one possibility is that there is no God, and that I’m just talking to myself. Perhaps, at most, there might be some sort of evolutionary force moving the universe forward. But there are no answers to be found there, only an impersonal sense of participation in a grander story than my own. While that has a modern poetic vibe, it does nothing for my deep yearning to connect with Something alive and tangible. How can I find guidance or be intimate with an ineffable cloud of mystery that seems like a paler version of “The Force” as presented in Star Wars?

And herein lies the dilemma. I want the answers to my questions, and I would abhor any God who would tell me what to think and do. I’ve already experienced that fundamentalist version of the divine. It was toxic, soul-numbing and asphyxiating. Yet I want God to function like a Ouija board: answers appear, and I can either follow them wholeheartedly as genuine spiritual guidance, or I can laugh the whole thing off as a meaningless parlor game.

It feels like a spiritual version of teenage angst. I want an external source of wisdom (“Help me Obi Wan Kenobi!”) to clearly say what life is about and what is the right thing to do, and I also want complete freedom to make up my own answers. (“Luminous beings are we. Not this crude matter. You must feel The Force around you.” Yoda)

Irenaeus said that the glory of God is a human fully alive. Perhaps the divine, whatever it might be, is not so interested in giving me answers but in me growing up so that I know myself, connect with LIfe within and around me, and generate my own answers. In that creative process I think God also comes fully alive.

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14 Responses to The Frustrating Silence of God

  1. Joe Barry says:

    I can appreciate the struggle and I am also reminded of the following:
    “I medidate. I burn candles. I drink green tea…and I still want to smack someone.” Love to you and Herb.

    • scott says:

      Joe, wiser words were never spoken. I don’t think I can drink enough green tea to totally eliminate the urge to smack someone. Much love to you and Nathan.

  2. Monette L. Taylor says:

    Very interesting and understandable to me! Hope you receive your answers/choices. Love you and Herb.

  3. Jane says:

    Beautiful photo Scott.

  4. nancy mccranie says:

    I think you are on to something! Cynthia Bourgeault writes about paying attention to our longing and gently pulling on that longing like a rope that actually tethers us to the Divine. Thanks for a thought provoking reflection.

    • scott says:

      Thank you Nancy. I had forgotten about that image from Cynthia Bourgeault. That longing is the rope that we pull on that tethers us to the divine. It reminds me of Rumi’s “Love Dogs”. Thank you for reading the post and leaving a comment. Love you and Bill and the boys!

  5. Jane says:

    Do we over complicate our lives by judging too much?
    What if ‘Joy’ is the goal?

    Here’s a quote on that:
    The idea of “success,” for most people, revolves around money or the acquisition of property or other possessions, but we consider a state of joy as the greatest achievement of success. And while the attainment of money and wonderful possessions certainly can enhance your state of joy, the achievement of a good-feeling physical body is by far the greatest factor for maintaining a continuing state of joy and Well-Being. And so, there are few things of greater value than the achievement of a good-feeling body.

    • scott says:

      Jane, I know I certainly complicate life too much, and that the root of it is usually judgment: of myself, others, of how life should be. The Abraham-Hicks quote reminds me of what Jesus said as paraphrased in the version of the Bible called The Message: “Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God.” Matthew 6

  6. Thank you for such an honest struggle with ‘unknowing’ Scott. As Merton says, we need to live the questions rather than seek THE answer to questions. And Chittister will say the very questions are the transformation we seek. In other words, keep questioning and questing through all of life and you will find the Meaning of life. Not easy, but it is real.
    Love going your way!

    • Jane says:

      Love this Jeff-xoj

    • scott says:

      Thank you Jean. I love going your way too and am so grateful to you for all the times and ways in which you have supported me in holding those questions until they could begin to transform me. Love, Scott

  7. Hannah says:

    On this feast of St. Benedict the two O’Donoghue’s in Austin recommend a reflection on Psalm 40 :6 ‘ears opened’ is a polite way
    of telling us God is digging out Ears in our granite blockheads ……
    ( footnote in Jerusalem Boble ) in order to hear!
    Thank you for great reflection

    • scott says:

      Thank you Sisters O’Donoghue. I love the image in Ps. 40:6 of God digging out an ear in order to hear. I feel a bit more of the granite being chipped away day by day. Thank you for your great reflection recommendation and give my love to Adeline. Love, Scott

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