You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,” our priest droned for the tenth time. His pedagogy was nothing if not dogged. He would have said it again, but I jumped in: “How can I love someone I can’t see?” The other kids sat up. Would he ignore me or call my parents? I always tried to rattle him, but for once I wasn’t showing off.
I Had a childhood friend whose mother yelled at her a lot. Her mother's ravings, however, were rarely attached to identifiable offenses. Asked why she was yelling, she'd snarl, "On general principles!" It was a free-form thing. Sometimes she'd yell about real crimes, but Tina was innocent of many of them. Her mother was unbowed.
Devout christians often appropriate the Bible's language and patterns to frame their spiritual experiences. When feeling dry or abandoned, we speak of exile or desert sojourns. Prodded to an unknown destination, we invoke the memory of a wandering Aramaean. After long vigils, when we finally know, we say we've heard a still, small voice.