On a few occasions in my life, I have been aware of only God and me. This has almost always been during times of intense suffering.
About a week ago, on a Sunday morning, I re-visited that rare place again. I was in the throes of the worst hours of a severe stomach virus. I was alone in the house as my husband had gone to Mass. But I was glad to be alone. Even a comforting presence at those moments of such suffering would have been too much stimulation. I could bear nothing but my own being, alternately fighting and then surrendering to the misery.
I was burning up with fever, suffering from dehydration, shivering and engulfed in waves of nausea that seemed never to end. My insides literally felt as though they had melted to gether, and my mouth was agonizingly dry.. I remember thinking how much I would like to escape from my body. And I also thought, “What must it be like to actually die?”
My dehydration and swollen tongue brought to mind Our Lord’s Suffering in His Passion. I thought of how unbearable His misery must have been. He was not only dehydrated, much more so than I was, but He also had the beatings and the heavy Cross to carry and the nails driven into His Flesh, the hours hanging on a Cross, unable to breathe, and He bore all of this for an evening and the better part of a day with not so much as a drop of water, while He lost immense amounts of blood and sweat. And He chose to bear it. He could have stopped it at any moment, but He did nothing at all to comfort Himself or to relieve even a tiny pang of His Agony. How great is His Love for us!
Perhaps that is why the Saints can bear so much suffering, because they love so much…like Jesus.
At my lowest moment, I crawled back into bed, trying to just hang on from minute to minute. I turned my eyes to the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus hanging on the bedroom wall, and I begged His help. But mostly, I just looked at Him. I was grateful for the grace to remember Him in my own little suffering. But I did want it to end.
It was just the two of us in that bedroom during those few moments….nothing supernatural, but I knew He was there. I knew I wasn’t alone. And in a short time, I felt a little better, enough to know that I could bear the rest. I thanked Him.
I thought about how much He is always there. He is just waiting for us. And often when we feel healthy and are going about the business of life, we don’t notice Him. Or at least, we can’t feel how close He is, because there is too much else swirling around us both within and without. And He is in the quiet, the whisper. He peers through the lattices of our life. (Song of Songs 2:9)
I am grateful that I was reduced to experiencing my own nothingness for that brief time last week, for painful as it was, that suffering brought me into the stillness where there was only God. And He was the only One I wanted, the only One Who could help me, the only One Who mattered. Oh, if it could only always be like that!.
Maybe if I can find a way to reach that place of nothingness more often, where everything else is stripped away, maybe I can find Him so close, so loving, so real, in such fullness of Presence just waiting for me again….and again.