about doubt

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    It was dark, and the fire was at that stage of dying where it was mostly just a weird glow on the log, but it was still warm and we were still sitting around it. The heavy words kind of seem like they’re still hanging there with the smoke. I think he turned his flashlight on for a second, aiming it right at the center of the embers. “Isn’t it weird that when we put a light on it we can’t see the fire at all? It just looks like a dead log.” I roll my eyes in disbelief that he could possibly be lecturing me right now. I wonder if I should have said anything at all. But then again, there’s a particular kind of earnestness in him as he pokes at the glowing places in the dark. I start to wonder if it’s just that we both need these words.
     And it’s three in the morning. I’m thinking about Madeleine L’Engle and how we can’t keeping offering finite answers to infinite questions. I’m thinking of waking up in the darkness from a dream and being furious at God. I’m wondering if you can, in fact, be furious at someone who does not exist.
      I think about Hebrews, and about faith as a hoping for completion. A hoping for rescue. I think about the faithful as those of us who stumble around, unfamiliar with the path ahead and knowing somehow that this cannot be the end of the trail. Searching for the place where the road cuts into the clearing and the light is suddenly all around us. And the lost bits will be burned away, and the light will remain. I think about the way the clarity will come, and we will no longer have to keep rationalizing the need and the hope with the twisted state of things down here. I think about how that hope will turn to peace and just be real…
I’m aching for it, tonight. I’m aching for nights like these, gathered around and together and eating and drinking and laughing. I’m aching for the time when it won’t have to end in hugs and goodbyes and promises to keep in touch that we know we won’t keep the way we should. I’m longing for an end to the endings. It’s these lonely spaces, these seemingly endless disappointments and hurts that have left me staring accusingly like Job at a God I am hesitant to trust. And yet who am I, that He should have given me a hope to reach anything more than this? Is it a vague memory of heaven that fixes my eyes, or is it just a longing for something to fit into the broken edges? Regardless, I feel it burning inside, consuming the hapless, meaningless things and shining even more brightly against the hazy darkness of uncertainty and sadness. There is doubt, but there is also hope, and it is not overcome.
     Those of us out here wandering are far less lost than we imagine. After all, we were never supposed to be at home. We were meant to be immigrants, aliens. We were meant to tread with uncertainty, because we were meant to know that this is not the way it should have been. Maybe the doubt is nothing more than an echo of that dissonance, resonating through our souls and reminding us that we are made for more than this. And one day it will not be like this.
     One day we will be at home. And maybe that’s a place that we will know the instant we see it.
     Until then, the embers burning are so beautiful in the dark.

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