In her book, “H is for Hawk”, author Helen Macdonald writes, “There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realize that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realize, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are”
I have my own holes. Spaces patched with scraps that blend well enough a human in a hurry would walk right past and never notice. Most of the time, I prefer it that way.
But I met a man through letters, mostly, who told me about His own holes. Another writer who pours out His passion on Biblical pages, and I’ve come to realize I’m His ideal reader. He’s told me about the long absence He’d gone without living with His Father, but how they never lost touch, except in this one broken moment. He writes to me about the even longer absence He’d had away from His kids, and it punctured Him straight through every time He tried to make contact with them and got told ‘No’. He’s described the losses. How His kids give up on dreams, hopes, and promises, but how He keeps offering new ones, only to lose again. And the loss that He takes the hardest is when the key to home get’s thrown away into dank places. When they walk away and hurl sickly words over their shoulders that it was never real to begin with. The pain I read between the lines is palpable. This timeless writer, He’s promised that when we meet in person, He’ll even show me His holes. The obvious ones are in His hands and feet, but, like me, the deepest pains are seen only when one sits long and listens close.
The thing is, I believe Him. There’s something about the concrete evidence of massive missing that allows one to accept the truth of another’s story of heartbreak. It takes only a quick blink to time warp back to what was bloody, what was suffocating, what was hammering, and one finds it possible to shift back and nod slow and believe.
It takes a lot of courage to sit and listen. To accept and believe. But here’s why I keep reading these letters over and over, because there is comfort in them I don’t find anywhere else. There is hope that hovers over every hole. This is not possible to do with my own pain. But it is possible with His because He is the great Healer. He is the hole filler.
I wish Helen Macdonald knew that.