Category Archives: Michel Benoît

Prisoner of God

‘God, you are my God; I have sought you since daybreak…’ Slowly I am letting the phrase of the Psalm seep into me. There are not many of us in the chapel at this morning hour. I often come here at the end of the night’s great silence. I leave my body on the ground and make myself ready for you. At the start of our relationship I used to talk to you a lot. Now, more and more, I stay quiet before you. Are you not aware of what I am about to say, even before it comes to my lips? I keep silence in your presence. It is not that I really know you: but that is how I love to be. Do with this moment whatever seems good to you.

Strangely, God, these sources of distress do not touch me in that secret depth where I meet you. Am I running away from the reality of my everyday life? I do not believe so. I believe rather that you are the sole reality. That may be why our relationship seems so little affected by what is going on outside. Is ‘relationship’ the right word, though? I am silent for a lot of the time with you. You talk seldom — or rather, you talk in a strange manner: you come to confirm, in a kind of way, the words that are familiar to me from the Bible — by an inner certainty, as if you were addressing them to me, yes to me, that very day. Silent God. I love to listen for your word.

God, I have to speak to you today; you must hear me. What is happening? Are you just an illusion? — you, who have slowly made me accustomed to your presence; you, who used to be enough for my happiness… But am I mistaken? My brothers, the brothers whose life and destiny I share — they can’t all be wrong and I alone right. But then, who are you, if you’re not life in full flood? And as for me, what value does my life have, if it’s not a constant walking in your footsteps? What sort of life is a stationary life, God?

It’s over. The enthusiasm, God, in which you were one with ongoing life — that enthusiasm is shattered now. And you yourself, these days, when I come to present myself before you at dawn — you seem absent too, God. And yet you’re still the same. You haven’t changed because I’ve ceased to hope. Am I now going to have to wear myself out with your absence? Could you be an imaginary God, like water that runs away? Or rather is it that I am now unable to hold you in the hollow of my hand, to drink you? God, I may be unable to live without expecting anything of the morrow. But how can I live without you?

— Michel Benoît, Prisoner of God (trans. R. Clarke)