The rain beat down upon the roofs of the terraced houses that stood in solemn lines as though eternally stuck in a past age of silent disapproval. Before them on the roads that threaded between the lines of houses like flattened stilts the guttered drains sucked greedily in anticipation of soon swallowing them all into the dark depths of the man made sewers. In between the cars she saw the mysterious spaces where people appeared running through the splattering of rain to cross to the safety of the other sides where pavements loomed like grey tongues that lapped up the water from the manic splashes of their hurried steps. It was the shortest day, and so was the longest night. She huddled the dirty sleeping bag around her chin, in the litter strewn underpass she would be warmer than the previous night when she had tried to sleep in a doorway next to the Subway cafe where she sometimes stole fizzy drinks from. She was hungry but would eat in the morning at The Salvation Army centre, she had been here a thousand times. Alone and hungry, but tonight she was not anxious, quite the contrary. She felt an odd lucidity in her mind and she looked up to the dark sky to see if it was a full moon.
The moonlight was just a faint blur in the cold night, it hung like a softly smeared globe in the strange equinoctal shadows. Wispy grey clouds caressed its' edges as it looked down in an old aloof manner, forever watching the tragic human theatre of man unfold comically beneath it.
She broke the silence seemingly for the sake of breaking it.
“Hello God” she said and all she could hear was the steady hum of traffic that passed relentlessly above her. She had spoken to God many times before, though always in silence.
She had a problem.
She had a real problem with the time she was living in.
But she felt that she knew what the problem was.
She was an intelligent woman, though society percieved her as stupid and broken.
Generations of indifference had been spawned from the pleasures of promiscuity into an essence of the soul of a newly born modern time. New modern mankind was a conditioned human product of obligations and desires, led down avenues of heartache and cul de sacs of constraint until eventually, painfully, they finally became aware. They became aware of their place in the age of their present, and once they were aware of that then they became curious and discovered the place of their present in relation to the space of time.
Each day she argued wih herself that each moment was just a choice, and the modern day rule dictated that the choice that hurt or tested the soul more was usually the wrong one, the choice that produced immediately gratifying results was usually the right one. It was her intuition that had led her through the relentless maze of confusion. Her mind and her heart were filled with the personal choices whose effects were ever more unseen than seen. She was gradually becoming estranged from modern society because of the 'inner feelings' she had just always had. Feelings that invoked her free will of choice. Choices involving a God she longed to know existed, a God she wanted to experience personally. Her choices were opportunities in that sense, possibilities that were placed deep in the embers of her fragile human heart.
She thought “Ironically there has to be some need for wisdom before love. Because Love can deplete itself otherwise, it leaks out from the source that created it, the battery of the spirit that is recharged by the love we receive from knowing how to recharge it properly. Because others will take that willingly and give nothing in return."
Her mind hung in the night air, in the hope of understanding and she remembered parts of scripture she'd read from one of the bibles at the Salvation Army. It was about giving away the treasures of one's heart to others who would inevitably destroy them. “To not give ones' pearls to swine is relevant and interpreted perfectly for the occasion of modern agenda's and experience. Surely the promise of love must be ‘to grow love’ and if love cannot be recieved and planted in the first place then it cannot grow”. So it seemed to be to her in cynical and epidemic proportions. It was a radical modern age she had been born into.
She breathed in deeply, her mind in a strange motion of lucidity... “There is no doubt that there is a force of evil in the world that manifests itself within the heart of people. Man has the dual complex of good and bad that surrounds and accompanies all lifes' journeys and eventual fates. Choice, to choose, is the greatest gift to us. The will of the spirit can overcome all examples of temptation and distraction but the spirit must be tuned into the source of it’s power. Just like plugging into electricity so it is with us. We do not live by bread alone but by that essential force of life”.
She cared about life, about love, about so many things, places, and people. Though she wondered about the essence of caring itself... “Caring can be a confusing conundrum for a person. The caring of and for another soul can be the human will versus the human condition if one is unaware and cynical of our inherent human selfishness. For good can seem forever challenged by the endless contempt of heartless individuals and the vast illogical bureaucracy of authorities. This wall of modern cynicism is built out of fear and fear can only be resolved by trust”.
She decided that...
“To trust is the reallest and most courageous act an individual can decide to take. If one can believe there is 'A Being' greater than us who knows and is aware of our every concern, fear, and anxiety, then that is a first step towards that trust. The world will not attempt to help us understand this conundrum. It is a conundrum of the heart that is only arguably divisively analysed from the head. That is because the very act of analysis leads one only back to the fact of a mystery in life. Of spiritual realities that we are all partaking in as we live and breathe".
She said out loud... “But we’re never given something that we can absolutely no doubt whatsoever place our complete and utter trust in!”
‘But that’s not true.' God interrupted.
With her mouth open and her heart skipping a beat, she reformed the words she had already computed and prepared and instead she said in a shaky voice ‘please explain’...
'The issue of trust is the connection'.
The voice was crystal clear but coming from inside her.
'The utter fragility of your human trust in something that is unexplained is mysterious. What you must trust absolutely and with no doubt whatsoever is the mystery itself'.
She fidgeted in the sleeping bag, “I don’t understand you” she said frankly.
The voice continued...
‘It is the proof that I AM, that God exists.’
‘Rest your mind Caroline and I will show you.’
The soft voice spoke tenderly for some time with words that planted seeds of deep revelation within her young searching soul as she gazed up at the depths of the night sky from her dirty smelly sleeping bag.
After the words ended she felt calm and peaceful and she slept. When she woke later she was not cold, though she was still in the dark shadows of the tenement buildings. For the first time through the long dark of the winter night she could see a star in the sky. She stretched her arms and thought...
‘God is an enigma to many many people, they want a photograph of God, something they can box into their minds, a place that gives them a sense of control and ultimately,…judgement’.
The moonlight grew stronger as the clouds dispersed and she began to consider that she had just been dreaming. That there was no real other 'voice' at all.
'Come’ said the soft voice again in her heart and her mind instantly fixed on the sound, ‘we have a long journey ahead together.'
But she felt no inclination to move, the movement was within her and she suddenly felt a clear knowingness in her mind and a slight flutter in her heart. Years later she would define that 'heart' moment as the first time she knew of the hummingbird of God.
The high rise of tenement buildings stood forlornly watching her muffled figure as she laid down curled up in a small corner of the underpass. They looked to her like decayed and forgotten soldiers in a last tragic stand. Miserable and fearful of their place they shadowed the motorway in silent resentment and capitulation.
Into the urban ether she spoke out loud again...
“But I feel so alone sometimes, so small and insignificant".
The voice said...
“The final war for the coming of the light is now here Caroline, it has started silently inside the inner consciousness of all mankind, you have just been waiting like so many others. Waiting to begin the real purpose of why you are here, to fight the darkness child.”
It was still dark though it was a new day just about to dawn.
She got up and packed her sleeping bag into her back pack. Following her feet she walked along the dark streets for a quarter of an hour. She stopped in front of a very old bulding, it was The Catholic Church. She knew it from the soup kitchen she visited there every fortnight. She felt nervous because she knew she had to talk to a Priest. Her anxiety began to shake her resolve and she started to chew on her dirty fingernails and stamp her foot. Then she looked up again at the night sky, the silver pinpricks of stars that flickered, the immensity of the heavens above her. She opened the gate and went and sat down at the front of the Presbytery.
She would wait there by the door...
She would wait for the new day...
She would trust.