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It was October 1966, then, a young professed in our Academy. Stressed by intermittent knee pain and overwhelmed by teaching and surveillante responsibilities, I fingered a slim paperback in the pocket of my petticoat and ached for more of Abraham Heschel’s Man’s Quest for God – Studies in Prayer and Symbolism (1954). I had been forewarned to keep this book underwraps; its Jewishness smarted against acceptable norms in the Catholic world in which I lived.

But Heschel’s words shimmered off the pages and left track marks upon my psyche—I would return at a later time.

These words still shimmer, but integrated at a deeper level than decades before. Central to Heschel’s theology is what he calls divine pathos: God’s continuing need for us as co-creators in his multiple expanding universes—an understanding Heschel gleaned from his studies of the Talmud and kabbalistic and Hasidic writings.

No matter that the prophets and Jesus of Nazareth decried the hardness of heart they encountered along dusty Palestinian roads, natives filled with self-absorption, haughtiness, and stingy spirits. Similar avoidance of collaboration with Creator God exists today.

Yet, God persists in His offer.

Stripped of its religious trappings, co-creation again appears in the Eleventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. The handful that brings love, harmony, and peace where before there was none do experience shimmering life.

Such is the viable antidote for our world, no matter who is in power.

At times, I falter before the enormity of my coming transition. Hospice authors frame it within the verb, cowering—craven fear. Yet, it’s coming. More symptoms attest to this reality, and my body is imperceptibly failing. Because Twelve Step practice, meditation, and blogging have brought this experience home, my faith feels grounded like a pair of sturdy Oxfords. Six months of hospice care have also enhanced this new learning.

To my delight, I continue receiving nudges for the next blog to compose, and with it, new vistas to explore. This one moved me:  

 Knock upon yourself as on a door, and walk upon yourself as on a straight road. For if you walk on that road, you cannot get lost, and what you open for yourself will open.

…from the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, filled with Gnostic sayings of Jesus Christ among first-century Christians—It was found among thirteen leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar in a cave near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945.

 

 

This saying amplifies an earlier one found in Matthew’s gospel 7:7-8:

…Knock and the door will be opened to you…For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 This pair of similar sayings engages seekers differently: Matthew’s directs their needs toward Jesus Christ for fulfillment; whereas, Thomas’s, toward the seekers themselves whose spirits, already blessed, have everything they need to maneuver their tangled humanness. To access this grace, humble prayer is a critical prerequisite.

So I’ll keep knocking upon myself/door and walking the straight road, wearing my sturdy Oxfords. It’s already been working…

 

“Be still and know that I am God,” Yahweh says to Elijah, prophet and miracle worker huddled in the cave at Mount Horeb. “I’m not to be found in mighty winds, nor in earthquakes, nor in fires,” Yahweh adds.

Like Elijah fearful for his life, I am stressed.

Winds of gibberish, earthquakes of exploding shards, fires of angst still assail my psyche when left unguarded. Left behind are swathes of distortion related to the progression of my terminal illness and the illusion of being trapped in nothingness. Instincts clamor for fulfillment, at any cost while controlling the uncontrollable stresses to the max.

When under siege, I know to wait and grip my crucifix, hard. Within the madness slowly emerges the longed for stillness and I adjust to my new symptoms, awash in the wordless swirl of Creator-Love.

Such is my continuous spiritual growth as I await the deliverance of my old body—something I have to pass through.

So it’s about being still and praying …

 

 

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