When the Alleluias Run Dry

He shared his story:  “I was sitting in church and looked around at all of the banners that said alleluia.  The songs of the liturgy all had alleluia.  I heard the familiar, ‘Christ is Risen, Alleluia’ and heard the response, ‘Christ is risen, indeed.  Alleluia!’”.  But it was all dry and empty for me.  Every alleluia felt like a helium balloon with a 100 pound weight attached to it.  All I could feel was emptiness because I knew that my life was a mess and that in my current condition I am not acceptable to my friends and fellow Christians.  I am stuck in a Lent that is dry, empty, and, painful.  The situation leaves me close to despair.”

His honesty was pouring out.  His story is not all that uncommon.  What is uncommon is the fact he was able to share it with someone because all too often he would be accused of having a lack of faith.  “If you only believed enough…..” he would be told.  In the Gospel readings both Thomas and Cleopas seemed to have times of emptiness and one can take heart as to Jesus ministered to their emptiness.  His story is one that church people don’t like to hear.

A dry period in the Christian journey can happen with a number of causes and triggers.  Sometimes it is acedia.  Sometimes it is depression.  Sometimes it is what John of the Cross calls a “dark night of the soul” which brings about a dying and rising that leads to renewal.  Sometimes it is life events that become overwhelming, but, the resulting dryness feels the same no matter the cause.  God is present but he cannot feel it or seem to know it.  It can be a dark and frightening time.  He just needs someone to be with him, even though it is probably not possible for him to realize that someone is with him.

A spiritual director sits with him and listens.  A spiritual director helps him to hear the sure voice of God in the midst of it all.  A spiritual director doesn’t judge, doesn’t advise, doesn’t even direct……..just listens and prays with the one on the journey.  The alleluias, for him, will be buried for a longer period of time and, for awhile, the darkness will seem to prevail.  The spiritual director, with the candle lit, becomes a physical presence of the One who hears his cry and will bring him healing.


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