The story that springs to mind when I’m asked, “When have you been comforted by God?” seems to need to be told backwards.

 

Quite a while ago at a Yearly Meeting session, I passed the table of a woman I considered to be an elder of the Yearly Meeting.  We got into a brief discussion, and in my unquestioning way, I announced my certainty of the presence of the divine.  She stopped my babbling and asked me very seriously, “How do you know God exists?”

 

The question stopped me in my tracks.  I don’t think anyone had asked me that before.

 

After a moment, I told her this story.

 

I spent a semester at Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center on the East Coast.  I had lost joy in my life, and I was there to try to find it again, or at least to put the knowledge of joy back into my life.  I was taking a class where we were required to read George Fox's Journal, so I went to the lovely long couch in the library, propped myself up lengthwise, and slowly began to absorb what George Fox said with so many words.  As I sat there, not engaged in my reading, not quite asleep, not yet dropping the heavy book, I felt a hand on my right shoulder and was surrounded by the love of the divine.

 

It was such a powerful moment that all it took was the sensation of a hand and the feeling/knowledge of being completely loved and much-comforted before I went back to slogging my way through George Fox's Journal.

 

This story of comfort in time of need came to me again in response to the query, “When have you felt comforted by God?”

—Dorothy Day