Friday, July 28, 2017

A City Shining in the Dark

March 25, 2013 Unpublished blog

How is it I can love You
within me,
yet see You from afar?

How is it I embrace You
within myself,
yet see you spread across the heavens?

You know. You alone.
You, who made this mystery,
You who shine
like the sun in my breast,
You who shine
in my material heart,
-St Symeon the New Theologian

March 26, 2013 (Published Blog)

Once again, blog posts are getting backed up, written but not posted.

Let's see if I'll post this one or not.

I will, but remember, this is simply me sharing my story. It's just a deeply personal account of my inner life, which I share because I am a writer and that is what I do.

That's what this blog is for. I wanted to call it "Scribblings," but someone else had taken the name. This is me scribbling down on the page an account of my inner life.

I don't have the answers. I don't understand why I experience or know God in the way that I do. I can think of things that helped me on my journey, and sometimes I share those things. But, the thing is, it's a mystery. I don't understand it, myself.

I don't understand what it means, or why it happens, except that God is Love, and this is just one of His many mysterious ways of demonstrating His love in very personal ways, which He does do, in so many different ways.

Lately, I have been too shy to call Jesus by His name, because His love has been too overwhelming, too intoxicating- just so personal, present, overflowing. I've been trying to get used to it.

But last night, His name slipped out as I was talking to Him, and He caught it immediately.

What is My name? He asked, with such tenderness.

"Jesus," I said, shyly.

Who is your Beloved? He asked again, with tender authority.

"It's You. Jesus," I answered, hardly able to speak for the shyness. "You're my Beloved, my Lord…"

But I could not continue. The combination of knowing His story, and knowing Him the way that I do now, cut me right to the quick and I could not speak. Even my inner voice was washed away by a flood of something too exquisite for words, as I thought about Him, and everything that He was and did and said, and everything that He went through. I had to wait for it to subside.

Then my thoughts drifted away to some of the Christian mystics I had been reading about; how they had gone for long periods of time not feeling Him close to them, and how much agony that had caused them, and how this got expressed in their poetry.

I wondered, not for the first time, about the fact that I had never gone through such an experience, but was instead constantly, it seemed, surrounded by the presence and love of God.

If I asked that of you- to be apart from the experience of My presence, in order for your spirit to grow and deepen, would you accept? Jesus asked me.

I knew Jesus was sincerely asking for my answer. This frequently puzzles me, when Jesus asks me questions, since He knows everything anyway. Also, I really dislike it when He offers me a choice. It's unnerving. He knows this.

"How can You even ask me such a thing! Why do You ask me?" I cried. "How can You ask me that! Why don't You just do it, if it must be done? Why involve me in the decision? Are You seriously asking me this? Really? Seriously?"

I thought about it, briefly, took a deep breath and answered Him honestly. "No!" I told Him. "Absolutely not. I refuse. I won't accept. I can't accept. Don't ask it of me!"

And it was as if I threw myself at His feet. "Don't ask me that," I pleaded.

Then I thought about it further, surrounded as I felt myself to be, by His love and close embrace. I thought about never feeling that again.

Never being able find Him there, when my love and my longing for Him rose up unbearably; never to be able to pour that all out right to Him. Never to dance with Him in the kitchen as I am unpacking the groceries, never to feel myself caught up in His arms, swung up into the air in a burst of joy and love and wonder, never to settle back into His embrace for a nice, quiet chat with Him, as if our heads were close together as we whispered.

Instead, to feel nothing but the quiet ticking of the physical world as it spun about its courses, fulfilling its physical nature, the quietness of wood and paint and window glass, and grass growing and the empty wonder of a blue sky in which nothing would echo.

The prospect was intolerable. What would I do with my longing? How could I live? Where could I turn?

I said to Him, "I would have to pour out everything into this incredible, creative surge, pour out all that energy into a flood of words that still wouldn't satisfy. Would that work be the point, would the writing be the good things that would come of that? I would throw myself onto the grass and sob and wail for You, I would throw myself out on long, horribly lonely walks, and yet never reaching You."

In short, I would be like a crazy person- as if I don't already sound like a crazy person, ha!- and understand, first hand, all that poetry. Not a pleasant prospect. Then something struck me.

"Anyway, Jesus," I went on, earnestly, feeling as if I were resting in His arms and speaking to Him freely, face to face, "that's not fair to ask me this. It's as if... listen, my Sweetheart, you Darling, listen. Imagine if this present life were over, and we were fully together, no more veil, and I knew You as You are and therefore I was as I am meant to be, and You have me and I have You and the fellowship is whole, perfect.

"And we are there, on our couch, resting together in our room, just enjoying finally being fully together, and looking out over the quiet landscape, that I could truly see then and not through this veil which annoys me terribly.

"And imagine, if then, my Darling, my Love, if You said to me then, "My dove, My little one, how I love you! You are precious to Me, and I cherish this way of being fully together...

"And then," I continued, dreamily, "You would call me by my new name..."

My attention wandered away, as I pondered this mystery of a new name, what it might be and what that might mean.

I would call you Jenny, Jesus said, so lovingly, interrupting my pondering, perhaps because this mystery is too deep to consider at that moment, and plunging me into sweet shyness.

"Yes," I acknowledged, delighted and unable to deny it, despite the shyness. "That is my name. I am Jenny. So... You would say, "Jenny, My own, My little one, I love you, and how I cherish being fully with you as we are now. But I want you to grow and to deepen into knowledge of Me, because I long always for you to know more of Me and My heart and My ways.

"And You would say to me, "To learn these lessons, you must go away from Me for a little while, from the full knowledge of Me, and enter mortal life..." (I don't know where I got this incorrect idea from, but that it was in my head is certainly true.)

But I would never say that, Jesus said, so earnestly, interrupted my inner speech.

"No? You wouldn't?" I asked, hopefully.

No; you would never leave Me again, He assured me.

And Jesus reminded me, without words, of those pillars that stand always in the Temple, and never go out again. Which is something I have longed for and begged Him for, hopelessly- since I figured I would never be an overcomer- but I couldn't help asking for this reward of being always with Him and longing for it for as long as I knew that verse existed. (Jesus tells them that He knows they have little strength, and yet He was not disappointed with them. I thought if ever there was any hope for me to achieve an overcomer's reward, the one for those who were weak would be my best goal.)

"Really?" I asked, filled with hope, so wanting to believe that I would never again have to leave the full knowledge of Him. "So after this life is finished, I never, ever, for any reason, have to leave You again?"

Never, He assured me.

"Well!" I said, feeling much happier. "Well, that changes things. In that case, I guess if it's only this once that I'm apart from You, during this life, and You felt certain that not feeling Your presence or hearing Your voice would be of great value to me in the long run..."

But I would still be there, He assured me.

"Yes," I acknowledged, "that is true. You would still be there, I just wouldn't be able to sense You there... If that is something that You think would be good for me in the long run, then yes. Okay. I would agree to that. How can I say no to You, anyway, when You ask me something? I would agree to it."

Then He said, write it down.

And I was all, “Oh Lord, must I? It's already so late at night and my wrist will hurt. I don't like writing with the pen...” Because I whine like that, sometimes to God.

Write it down, Jesus repeated, lovingly.

So I clicked on the bedside lamp (which did not bother Keith, because he was still up) and dragged my journal out and wrote it out in my terrible, scrawling handwriting, because I don't have the patience for the pen anymore, now that the pace of my thoughts is used to the speed of typing.

It took up four or five pages and that is how I can remember it in detail, and how I captured the dialogue, which was somewhat intricate, as we spoke together.

And now, of course, I wonder, will one morning I wake up to nothing but the stillness of the room, and the singing of the birds outside the window, and the cute little ears of the girls, as they wait to be let out? And when I reach out, as I always do, will there be no answer?

It seems strange to me, because as it is, dropping myself into the quietness of the present moment always then opens the moment up into the resonant, loving presence of God, as though the stillness were pervaded by the strains of some melody which enhances it and is in perfect tune to the physical world around me.

I can't imagine that not happening; it seems inevitable. And anyway, it's the deepest truth, because in Him we live and breathe and have our being. Even if I couldn't sense it, I would still know it, because I can't un-know it.

So there's no point worrying about it. Life is a mystery.

March 26, 2013 Journal

Last night I crawled into bed, tired, worn out. Then I had a thought, which I didn’t like and I was all, oh no…

And then I thought, But my heart is not divided, I have a good heart.

“Where is that thought coming from, then?” I asked Him.

From your soul, Jesus replied, immediately.

(I realize this will be somewhat difficult to understand, and I am really trusting the Holy Spirit that He will make clear His own message through it. I know there are many different ways and different vocabularies to understand the spirit/heart/soul/body concept and I am not putting this forward as the best way of understanding it. Jesus was working with me in a very personal way, because I already had a kind of vocabulary, and He used the one that I was accustomed to. But for the sake of clarity, when I say the spirit or the heart, what I mean is the inner man, and when I say the soul, what I mean is the emotions, mind, will and then there is the body. I tend to think of both soul and body being carnal. That's the way my understanding was arranged at the time that Jesus was speaking to me, and instead of correcting my vocabulary, He simply clarified my concepts concerning them. I still use this way of understanding. If you have been given a better one, remain with that.)

I actually raised my eyebrow and opened one eye, though there was nothing to see but the night stand. I was taken aback by both the speed and the clarity of His response.

“Oh, really?” I asked, uncertain. “Are You going to explain to me now the difference between the heart and soul and spirit? What is my spirit then?”

It’s filled with My life, full of light, He said, and I saw it like a flame, a flame to His much greater flame.

“Then what’s my soul?” I asked, fascinated.

The soul is what has absorbed the pain and brokenness of this present life, Jesus said.

Then I saw the soul like a sponge, confused, without clear sight, feeling the blows and cracked by the abuses and not sure in what direction to turn, and full of angry, sad, longing thoughts. It was like hurting, wounded thing. I felt pity and compassion for my poor soul. The soul could not see eternal things, and would go immediately astray if left to itself, but Jesus did not teach me to punish myself for my emotions or thoughts, but, through my spirit leaning on Jesus, to gently guide those emotions and thoughts in the direction that He was telling me, because my spirit can hear His voice. (I know many Scriptural metaphors for this involves things like beating one's body into submission or dying to the old man, but because in my childhood, this language translated into self hatred, hopelessness, shame, and despair about myself, Jesus gave me this gentler language to understand the same concept.)

“Then is the spirit and the heart the same thing?” I asked Him, continuing to think it through.

You know this, Jesus said, with His loving humor. You know this instinctively.

“Yes,” I admitted, grinning. “Okay. I do.”

But now I wonder. But anyway, the heart and the spirit are what makes up our deepest selves.

“My goodness, You are quick to answer me tonight,” I said.

You’re a quick student, He replied, smiling. And you trust Me.

“Yes, my trust in You has grown a great deal,” I acknowledged.

Then the rest of the experience I posted on my blog. I left out some parts, which Jesus did not mind. It wasn’t the main point anyway, and I didn’t want the blog to be about His love and reassurance, which are more important themes, and Jesus agreed.

But, for myself, to remember, what He said was, that we have only one mortal life to live through.

March 27, 2013 Journal

I felt considerably nervous last night, between wondering if and when Jesus might withdraw the sensation of His presence and feeling very much on display and trying to remember all the hard learned lessons of times past, like, just being with it, in the moment, and not holding on or trying to recreate and not trying to stuff down the feelings- all the feelings and just knowing, regardless of what I am feeling or how confusing it seems to be or how conflicted my spiritual impressions, to simply know that I am absolutely in Jesus, surrounded and upheld by Him and there is complete rest in that, and in each moment as it is, and the next and the next, always.

I am getting better at doing that, but I also wanted Jesus presently clear and I was also too shy to give myself over to the longing completely until the morning, when I woke up my longing led me there.

(Every time I shared something on my blog, for the next few days and especially that night, I would be bombarded with demands that I prove it was true by making it happen again, which is such a ridiculous lie, because I hadn't made it happen in the first place, but I would be filled with anxiety for Jesus to come and set the fears at rest. I wrestled with this for a year or two, but after a while, I was so settled on Jesus that the fears faded away, and I don't face that sort of thing anymore, or at least, not anywhere to that degree.)

Longing for Jesus, if left to itself, will not trip up over itself the way the mind will. Longing knows what it wants and will flow there. And it flowed straight to His arms and I knew myself to be there, in the way that I crave. I love Jesus. I just do.

I kept pouring love into His heart, His precious heart, His very powerful heart. Then on impulse, I picked up His hand and kissed it and I could see the scar for one moment- which was all that I could endure- and then I moved past that moment, because it’s too much.

Mostly we just lay there in the quiet morning, together on the couch, resting. I almost fell back asleep again, which sounds insulting, but that was the level of trust and closeness.

But in the night, we spoke. Jesus is so quick to answer me, sometimes, lately, especially. Jesus keeps telling me to be compassionate with myself, as though I were a small child.

He said to me, yesterday I think it was, would you condemn a small child for this behavior?

And I was all, of course not, come to think of it. No. I would teach the child.

What would you teach the child? He asked me, gently and loving and interested. Like, that was my cue, now He wants to hear what I would say.

I thought about it. And then I spoke to my own self, my soul, as if it were a child. And that really helped.

Also, I didn’t receive any feedback from my blog post, which was discouraging and Jesus said, if that helped someone, even one, and you never knew it, wouldn’t that be worth it?

And I said, yes of course. But I really like confirmation.

Your confirmation comes from Me, He said.

“Okay, yes,” I said, feeling sheepish. “Of course, that is true.”

Then later, after reading something about people who struggle with doubt, I asked, “But what if my talking about You in the way I do- with such confidence that You exist, and in Your story- causes hurt for people who are doubting You? What if I make it harder for them, for example, if they compare themselves to myself? I know how painful that can be, because I keep doing the same thing myself.”

I am responsible for them, Jesus replied.

Oh, right,” I acknowledged, feeling a little foolish. “Of course, yes. You are. But aren’t I responsible for something?”

You’re to be in present in the world, living out of faith, hope and love, Jesus replied.

Like a city in the dark, only the light is love and the dark is the mystery of the rest of the world.