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This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

So proclaims the Psalmist in verse, 118:24

Of special importance is the day, the last one in January and time to change the wall calendar in my kitchen.

This year, the print of Van Gogh’s 1890 Houses at Auvers graces February and mirrors the world of Auvers, northwest of Paris, with its thatched and tiled roofs and summer gardens. Broad strokes of pigment suggest his elusive emotional stability.

But obsessed to co-create with his Creator, his tormented psyche pushed him beyond exhaustion, beyond the minutes in any hour, and toward eventual suicide in July, two months later.

Perhaps an extreme use of time, but one from which Van Gogh’s six hundred or more oil paintings emerged and which still inspire viewers around the world. I have to think he glimpsed the whirlwind of colors while in his mystic fury, simultaneously filled with bliss.

So, what are we doing with this new day, no matter how quickly the seconds collapse into mill-seconds like mixing cups of flour into the liquid ingredients?

Only when very young and in the convent did I learn the significance of the Psalmist’s wisdom to rejoice in each day, a gift. And now, even more…

This mysterious saying speaks to the immediacy of Creator God’s presence, whether invoked in consciousness or ignored. In no way can we flee His pervading influence: it’s like being embraced by the beloved, yet unable to see his face, or catching the glint in a sunset or the flicker in a newborn’s smile.

Of interest to seekers, this saying has an interesting history. It is believed to have originated from the Oracle at Delphi, Greece, when the Spartans sought her counsel in their plan to attack the Athenians, around 431 BCE.

The “Bidden” saying is next found in the Adagia (1563), a collection of antique sayings compiled by the Renaissance scholar and humanist Erasmus. He rendered it in Latin: Vocatus atque non vocatum Deus aderit.

And it’s found in this form, carved over the stone doorway of Dr. C. J. Jung’s house in Kusnacht, Switzerland, in the 1950s, a reminder of the spiritual, present in every moment. Jung’s lifelong exploration of the psyche led him to this felt experience.

And closer to home, a dear friend gave me this plaque for my eightieth birthday; it sits next to my computer and reminds me of God’s presence, especially when listening for the next right word, when writing. 

It also helps to envelop this saying over our fractured world, especially those afflicted in Haiti and Afghanistan

Bidden or not Bidden God is Present.

Coils of barbed wire leaf out and produce a nine-petaled orange flower: such is the poignant design on the cover of the memoir The Choice – Embrace the Possible (2017) by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, an Hungarian-American survivor of Auschwitz.

Sustaining this teenager through ever-present death threats for eighteen months was her mother’s counsel, “You’re responsible for whatever you put in your mind. No one can take it from you.” Another factor was her life-plan with soul mate Eric enlivening her imagination, filling it with song and dance.

Yet, after the author’s 1945 liberation from the death camp, narrated within the first sixty-nine pages of this memoir, impenetrable evil continues weighting the balance. No matter what, Eger would be the free woman she was destined to become, without Eric, without her parents and grandparents, without her language, without her country.

But how return to life? What about the residual psychic wound, stalking beneath her ghostly shudders, dreams—this wound repelled by language’s efforts to make sense of it? How live with her senses having been saturated by the gruesome? Even others assault her Jewishness in other countries. Yet, decades of harrowing psychic cleansing empowers Dr. Eger to say to us: “…I would love to help you discover how to escape the concentration camp of your own mind and become the person you were meant to be.”

In my perception, Dr. Edith Eva Eger achieved a depth of psychic freedom few experience in this life. How privileged we are to have her memoir The Choice – Embrace the Possible that shows us how to change.

Available on Amazon

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