My agent sent me a book the other day. It is also a memoir, entitled Here if You Need Me. It came in a package with the return address of my literary agency with my name handwritten by my agent. Michael says I’ve become a diva now. I think it’s because I say “my agent” all the time and don’t like to cook supper. But I simply point out to him- by an eye roll only – that I never liked to cook supper, so I have no idea what he is getting at.
Here if You Need Me is lovely. It is about a chaplain to game wardens in Maine. The book is full of stories from her job, which often involves search and rescue. She doesn’t actually do the searching. She sits with the familes and with the search teams as they rotate from the woods to the relief trailers where volunteers make soup for them. Throughout the book she describes these scenes and explains that the show of love in tragic times is God himself. People from all walks of life coming together for the search of someone previously to them a stranger, sitting side by side with other strangers, putting their own comfort aside for the salvation of other humans – this is love, and it’s God.
I find this completely beautiful and almost completely true. My book is practically about the very same thing – the love of humanity and how it holds us up when we can barely stand ourselves. But in my most difficult trial, I noticed something else. There was a point at which humanity had done all that it possibly could, and I still needed more. The author of Here believes that when we die, our soul dies with us. We simply cease to exist. If that is true, and I do not believe that it is, there is still that moment right before we die when we are leaving this earth and all we have ever known and all of those people who have been Love for us and strength for us. It is somewhere in that moment that people are not quite enough. They can give us no actual assurance that dying will not be painful, that there will or will not be a light, that once we leave them we will not be sad or afraid that we have. They simply don’t know those things. But God does. When I was diagnosed with cancer and immediately, whether warranted or not, felt that I was facing death, people were wonderful. They were dear and faithful and kind and strong for me. But just beyond that, came God.
This I believe is the God of the lost person in the woods. Because if He is only seen in the love of humanity, how else will she have any idea of Him when she can’t see or hear the people searching for her? I believe it’s because the very best of humanity is not actually Him, it’s part of Him. And just beyond that, He’s still there.