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Sunday Letter: Check Your Pulse
The spirit of God lies all about the spirit of men, like a mighty sea, ready to rush in at the smallest chink in the walls that shut him from his own.
Anything I could say (but I will say something) is better said in Psalm 139:7-12
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit?
or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there:
if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 even there shall thy hand lead me,
and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me;
even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day:
the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
Much like the poet in the Two Rondels, "Thy heart and mine beat one accord", there is no place to go from the Spirit of God: one can cooperate with him or resist him, but he is always there, always working. Whatever unhealthy barriers we place to have relationship with God, he is persistent in bringing them down.
Think on the “mighty sea”: the persistency of crashing waves never stops; it may wax and wane, but it is ceaseless. Put up a wall—be it levee, dike, jetty—to keep this persistence and wear away whatever is built over time. While often in prayer, we invite God in to do sometime for us, it is what we don’t pray about that indicates where we may try to keep God out. Part of this, like keeping the storms out, is for stability on our terms, and building things as we see fit, rather than in cooperation with the elements.1
But there is always a leak; if we think we have shut God out, he will find a way. The stability of God is not static and independent: it is rhythmic and cooperative. It has a pulse
the walls that shut him from his own.
What are we keeping out when we construct these barriers? Building a barrier moderates: it cuts you off from noticing the low tide, the receding wave, and it attenuates the impact of the stormy wave. Keeping God out of certain parts of “Us”, in order to avoid the danger of stormy waters of the Holy Spirit, is what sounds a lot like Spiritual Depression: it keeps out the highs, and you don’t notice the lows.
The first thing to understand is you are God’s; the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is primarily one who recognises and accepts that he is God’s. This is conversion. Blocking the forces of the spirit because it might upset your life cuts you off from beauty, from the pulse of the universe, and from your neighbour, for building a wall to keep out is hardly ever just with God.
The construction of barriers reminds me of the words of Christ in a vision given to St John: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”2 We build protection from many aspects of the Spirit of God, because he cannot be controlled by us: it may be lack of belief (I cannot bear to experience the low tide), it may be fear of what he might ask (I don’t want to be called to …), it may be areas of our lives that we want to keep from God (I really don’t want to give up this sin). These boundaries strike me as negative: these walls are for avoiding—for keeping out—for negating.
If we let these walls come down–for they eventually come down; if we accept the invitation, it is far less the raging sea: for “even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
To put it another way (I do love mixing metaphors): things rush in because of pressure differences: it is because we have tried to Keep God Out of our spiritual house—our beachside dwelling. But if we tear down these barriers, we are not the part being raged against: we are merely in the water (“If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;”), because we are cooperating with the rhythm of the waters.3 With God, in God, to what we think are storms because of our attachments (“Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,”), we can know that “even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee.”
Note that many of these sources of beauty & recreation were ceased because of increasing commerce, as with Killer Dana, California,.
Revelation 3:17 RSVCE
I am reminded of this scene in Contact (1997):