Bright darkness

Gustave Thibon referring to charismatics –

“Always this need for revelations, for miracles, for living and palpable proofs of faith. I don’t judge it but I instinctively turn away. I can no longer do other than adore the dark and silent face of God. An essence without impact on existence – except perhaps that of total night on the bright-darkness of the Cave… My prayer is not a cry for light but an acceptance of the night. I can do no other. I no longer want to drag in my cowardly, my impure need for assurance and consolation. I would rather drown in an ocean with neither a lighthouse, nor a port, than anchor myself to a God too much like myself.”

L’expérience de Dieu avec Gustave Thibon By Gustave Thibon, Benoît Lemaire, Fides, Quebec, 2004 p. 102f (my translation)

It seems like everyone I read lately, Thibon, Zundel, Hillesum, Weil, Merton – all people seriously seeking God – find, not a God that can be expressed or experienced, but a dense and penetrating darkness. And with the darkness the conviction that in his absence God is more real than in any palpable presence. That sounds paradoxical. How can absence be more real than presence? A question impossible to answer in a coherent way. The only way I can express it is by saying that in the broad sweep of the attention, in conscious thought and ratiocination, in feelings and emotions, in ordinary everyday life God is absent – not just absent – he doesn’t exist. But in the interstices, in a fleeting moment of distraction, of absent mindedness, as a grace note to some pressing emotion, a presence is felt. But just for a moment, a fleeting intuition like something half seen out of the corner of the eye which disappears when looked at. The strange thing is that the flavour of that moment persists. It resonates like a forgotten memory which will not come to the surface. These are moments for wordless prayer because prayer itself and meditation have become impossible.

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