Blaise and Harper hopped in his truck and headed up the mountain. The desert scrub brushes gave way to bigger bushes and then tall evergreens. It had been a long time since Harper had gone up the mountain, and the change of scenery was a welcome respite. The air was cold, but she cracked the window a bit anyway to catch the scent of the pines as they drove further up and in. Dark fomenting clouds hugged the mountain top, with gray wispy fingers reaching in and around the passes.
They had driven in silence for some time when Blaise spoke softly. “Harper, what do you think your dream about Ava meant? I am pretty convinced that God gave you that dream, but what do you think?
Harper kept looking out the window at the passing terrain. Her breath made soft clouds on the window. “I can’t be sure it was God speaking in the dream. To be honest, we—as in God and I—haven’t really been on very good speaking terms for a while. When we communicate, it is more me groaning and moaning. So, I guess that’s not really communication since He doesn’t talk back to me.” She glanced quickly at Blaise then turned back to the window.
“Are you sure He isn’t speaking? Maybe you just need an interpreter. Take me, for instance.” He smiled, but Harper missed it. “If you have had vivid dreams, meaningful dreams, and they have impacted you in some way, at least in your thinking, would that not constitute a form of His speaking? In our conversations, some of your insights have been really pithy; and though I don’t doubt you are a very smart and intuitive woman, I think sometimes you underestimate the way God speaks to and through you. It may seem quite ‘natural,’ but I think our unobtrusive Lord often subtly nudges rather than always knocks a body off a horse. Do you get my meaning?”
Harper turned to Blaise. “I would like to believe that’s true. I really would. But I guess somewhere along the line, I lost confidence that He even cared about what I was going through enough to talk to me, let alone help. I started to feel that the lightbulbs going off when I read scripture or the physical presence I felt in worship had been phony. Like I was ginning it up out of my naivety and my own desire for spirituality.”
“When did you start to feel this way? This abandonment, if that is accurate?”
“Abandonment is a good word. I know lots of people have losses; lots of people suffer. And it sounds cheap to think that my suffering is greater than another’s, but you can only deal with your own stuff, right? I can’t see inside others’ hearts, but I saw clearly what was in mine. And the change really did happen when Graham passed.” Harper faced toward the window again.
Blaise made the turn into the long monastery driveway, then drove till he found a spot to park near the pond. He stopped the truck and turned to face Harper. “Can you describe that to me, or would you rather not?”
They sat in the truck in the quiet as the darkening skies made it appear that it was later than it was. Harper’s words were soft and measured. “When I lost the baby, I realize now that I stuffed a lot of the pain inside because people expected me to be strong. I had not experienced much trauma growing up, and I was a Christian, serving in the church. Up front. So, to have too many questions would show a lack of faith. I swallowed the questions, even though I did cling desperately to the Lord. Then the losses just began to stack up: an ectopic pregnancy, the news that I would never be a mother, the loss of a dear friend to cancer, the death of my parents. I felt like with each loss, I sprang another leak in my faith bucket, and I was running pretty low when Graham got sick. And all my Job’s counsellors told me over and over again that this was God’s perfect will and that I should be thankful. They had told me that my child had died because God just needed another angel in heaven. Many said I would forget with time, and that I would have another. I would say ‘yes, yes, I know,’ but I was screaming on the inside!” Harper changed position in the seat and lifted her long curly white hair to rub the tense muscles in the back of her neck. She sighed deeply.
Blaise did not speak, but he reached out to hold her hand.
“After the funeral, I looked at the dirty hole in the ground where Graham’s body was to reside, and I felt that the hole was me. It was mostly gone. Any feeling of hope or joy was being buried with his lifeless body. So, though his passing was horrific, and dealing with his family over the burial plans horrible, as well—and this will sound strange, I know—but the greater pain, the devastation of loss was that I lost God. I felt alone, not just as a wife, but alone in the universe. The God whom I had clung to, whom I had depended on in all my dark, tumultuous days, was absent. I felt that He was gone—and I started to doubt all my experiences. Maybe it was all a lie. Had He even been there at all? Was it all just nurture, environment, or wishful thinking? Maybe we really are just cosmic accidents, and there is no loving, all powerful, personal being with the giant guiding hand . . .” At this, Harper started crying uncontrollably. The tears washed down her cheeks and landed on her jacket. They came in waves, harder and harder. She felt like the tears, stopped up behind her reserve for so many years, had burst their dam, and down they flowed and flowed. Her body convulsed uncontrollably. Blaise put his arm around her shoulders and drew her close. She laid her head on his chest and cried as the clouds settled down on the grounds and raindrops began to splatter the windshield.