Thursday, August 26, 2021

The presence of God

The pious man is possessed by his awareness of the presence and nearness of God. Everywhere and at all times he lives as in His sight, whether he remains always heedful of His proximity or not. He feels embraced by God's mercy as by a vast encircling space. Awareness of God is as close to him as the throbbing of his own heart, often deep and calm, but at times overwhelming, intoxicating, setting the soul afire. The momentous reality of God stands there as peace, power, and endless tranquillity, as an inexhaustible source of help, as boundless compassion, as an open gate awaiting prayer. It sometimes happens that the life of a pious man becomes so involved in God that his heart overflows as though it were a cup in the hand of God. This presence of God is not like the proximity of a mountain or the vicinity of an ocean, the view of which one may relinquish by closing the eyes or removing from the place. Rather is this convergence with God unavoidable, inescapable; like air in space it is always being breathed in, even though one is not at all times aware of continuous respiration.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 310

<idle musing>
Doesn't that thought thrill you? Even take your breath away? Have you ever experienced that kind of closeness to God? Don't you want to?

I have, and I do want it more. I want that to be my daily experience. To walk with God as Enoch did, as others throughout history have. That's why I'm drawn to the mystics; they experienced God and wrote about how it felt, how they obtained that closeness. Practice the Presence of God is one of my favorites, written by a friend of his because he was an illiterate dishwasher in a monastery. Overlooked by the powers of the day, the world has forgotten all of them, but the work of this lowly dishwasher continues to stir people 400 or so years later.
</idle musing>

No comments: