Friday, August 27, 2021

The presence of God, part 2

Whatever the pious man does is linked to the divine; each smallest trifle is tangential to His course. In breathing he uses His force; in thinking he wields His power. He moves always under the unseen canopy of remembrance, and the wonderful weight of the name of God rests steadily on his mind. The word of God is as vital to him as air or food. He is never alone, never companionless, for God is within reach of his heart. Under affiiction or some sudden shock he may feel temporarily as though he were on a desolate path, but a slight turn of his eyes is sufficient for him to discover that his grief is outflanked by the compassion of God. The pious man needs no miraculous communication to make him aware of God’s presence, nor is a crisis necessary to awaken him to the meaning and appeal of that presence. His awareness may momentarily be overlaid or concealed by some violent shift in consciousness, but it never fades away. It is this awareness of ever living under the watchful eye of God that leads the pious man to see hints of God in the varied things he encounters in his daily walk, so that many a simple event can be accepted by him both for what it is and also as a gentle hint or kindly reminder of things divine. In this mindfulness he eats and drinks, works and plays, talks and thinks, for piety is a life compatible with God’s presence.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 311

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