“The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, but a Reality to be experienced”……… one of several adaptions, original version and source questionable
There is an anonymous work written in the latter half of the 14th century that was intended to be a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer. Its underlying message proposed that the only way to truly know God is to abandon all preconceived ideas about Him, being courageous enough to surrender your mind and ego to the realm of “unknowing”, at which point you begin to glimpse Him as He is in His true nature. In the last chapter of Thomas Merton’s “The Inner Experience”, the author speaks of an inner merger between humanity and divinity, possible to temporarily achieve, and yet incapable of being communicated unto others in its full reality. As the biggest skeptic around, I’ve always approached Christianity, in so far as theology preached by whomsoever, with caution, the practice learned long before stepping into this faith and strengthened as experience taught me very well that being “Biblical” just means it’s the other guy’s perspective, not necessarily what life and the Holy Ghost reveals as you go. This encounter of which the Catholic monk and the unidentified believer speak, then, is nothing Pentecostals haven’t preached for decades, indeed the event being that which birthed them in the first place! It’s referred to with different terminology. It’s certainly been abused and misunderstood, our denomination having tried to assume for ourselves that which only He can extend unto us via such immersion. Nonetheless, it remains, a point within us where one “steps through the veil” into depths yet assigned for us to determine, our will and His wisdom being all that’s required to realize “the fullness of the promise”. Does one walk away with all the answers? Can one then explain it to any great degree afterwards? It seems to me that the first two sentences here express it fairly well. Two of my early years in the Navy were spent aboard a ship home-ported in Nice, France. The guys in my particular unit shared two rooms downtown while on liberty, the one smaller, two beds, a wardrobe, and glass doors to a veranda. One night, just me and another fellow in there, I awoke in the wee hours of the morning in a cold sweat, moonlight still illuminating such space and with the knowledge of someone or something watching me. Fear consumed me; but not enough to warn my buddy. Instead, I forced myself to sit up, get dressed, and then leave to walk the streets, not returning till daylight. Nightmare? Too much to drink before retiring? At sea, a month or so later, in relating the story to others on watch, I would hear how my tale was not singular. At least two of those there on duty with me had likewise known the mystery. Strange? Not exactly what might be expected for me to use as a comparison to coming into God’s presence? Well, it’s all I have, the initial approach giving one some hesitancy, me in all my mess and He in all His righteousness. The osmosis, however, still without any linguistics sufficient for me to define it (the Creator greater than my ability to capture), is like being bathed in exactly the opposite emotions. His love, His peace, His grace – surround you, fill you, erasing all doubt and assuring you of your place in Him. It becomes one’s pursuit, a hope, not a demand, renewing and refreshing in our stagger down the road……..