One of the most profound relationships I have ever had, lasted one year, and I only spoke to the person once. I was 20 and he must have been about 25 years old. I had moved into a flat a few blocks away from my work offices which meant I could walk to work.
I ‘met’ him on that first morning walk. As I rounded a corner I saw this man striding towards me. We nodded our heads as we passed. For a year, almost every day, during the week, we passed each other on the same stretch of pavement. We went from nodding our heads, to smiling, to eventually having our faces light up with joy when we saw each other. We never verbally greeted each other. Words were not necessary.
I came to love this man. The joy in his eyes when he caught sight of me, his spontaneous smile and the fact that I knew that he looked forward to these morning encounters just as much as I did. The sight of him filled my heart with joy.
This carried on for a year and then one day he stopped me, took both my hands in his and said “I have been transferred and I couldn’t leave you – not knowing what had happened to me”.
We stood on the pavement, our arms wrapped around each, sobbing – and then we walked away.
I recently told my daughter about my ‘pavement’ man and she responded:
“That reminds me of our relationship with God. He is silent but we know that He is there”.
It is often in times of silence that our love for God grows deeper.
Even though there are so many unknown factors about Him and we have so many questions that are left unanswered, He looks at us with joy when we turn our faces to Him.
Just as I came to love my ‘pavement’ man without knowing anything about him – we can come to love God far more deeply. And even though my ‘pavement’ man never spoke I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he had come to love me too. That he looked forward in anticipation to the moment when he would see me and joy would fill his heart.
I know that is how God feels about us – He looks at us with joy, anticipation, love.
And even though my ‘pavement’ man left me, he did not leave me without any warning, without crying with me and without comforting me.
God will never allow anything to happen to us and then desert us with no comfort as we grieve. Even in death we grieve with hope because we will see our loved ones again.
O God, grant us, in times of your silence the grace to hold onto your words and not to allow our feelings to cause us to doubt. Bring to our minds your words ‘never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’. And grant us we pray the sure knowledge that you look at us with joy and compassion. Amen