I feel your familiar pull again, that gentle twinge at my heart. I know it too well, and my first impulse is to recoil and flee from your sight. We’ve known each other a long time, you and I. And yet you still deign think that you can call me aside whenever you will.
“But, my dear,” you say with a smile and a paternal expression, “You are mine, and I’ll call you when I will.”
I was going to write; I don’t want to talk now. Cannot you wait until I’m ready?
“If I wait, you will never be ready, and you will die. Besides, you were hardly writing when I came looking for you.”
Looking for me? I didn’t know I was missing.
“Exactly the point, my dear. Now, if you please, come sit with me; come to the table I’ve prepared and listen to what I say.”
Say? Will you speak to me?
“Only if you come when I call.”
I want to run. The impulse is so strong, down to my marrow I wish to flee this being who holds me hostage upon summons. But he is right; if I do not come, I will starve to death. Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him. What else am I to do? Whom in heaven shall I have besides him; who is like him, to whom shall I compare my master?
Half-hearted and frustrated, I take my crinkled pages, thin and worn, and pen and ink and scroll. From there I kneel upon the floor, and bow my head, waiting his blessing. I do not wait long, for his hand is my crown.
I kneel upon the floor, the rough material scratching my knees. My mind is in a whirl, my body as restless as my soul. Still, the master calls me, and who am I to deny his will?
My mind amounts to naught, for the toils of the world roll off me, and my sins are known no more. My conscience is clear; save me from even unintentional sin; may I never blatantly defy you, O Lord Most High.
Hear the groaning of my soul, O Lord; can you not hear my cry? My mouth utters no speech, but my soul is rent in twain; O soul, O soul, know the Lord; make him thy portion and thy salvation. What shall assail a man? Shall he lament in vain? O God, my God, forget my sins, maker of the day. My spirit tremble within.
What shall I say then, when my flesh and spirit wreak havoc on mind and blood and my soul is downcast within? What then, O Lord my God; how does the soul of man prevail?
“There was a boy who became a dragon, and a dragon who became a man, and that man became the firstborn among the stars. There was a man who had two natures: one to save, the other to destroy, and the power of life and death was given him…But his strength was his weakness, and his weakness strength…and his mind was ruined, body defiled, and yet he was the favored of the Master of Lights…”
But, Father, what shall we say? What of the man who was lightborn and felled from the sky? Shall he too be a son of stars?
“There was a man who was the favorite among all the others; he knew the scrolls and knew all that the Holy One had to say. He was the chief practitioner, the renowned teacher, but the shadows entwined him, choking him until he became their slave, and he lost all that he had, even those he once wished to save…”
Yes, and what happens to this man? Can he return to the height from which he fell?
“That was only the beginning, for his pride swelled, and his rebellion deepened…”
What shall I say, mighty one? Is there such thing as grace; is it to be feared or craved, or somewhere in between?
“I’ve told you before, my child, I am the sovereign one; I have compassion on whom I please; the one I’ve loved, the other hated. Consider now, the terror of grace, and know what you long for, for when the place of desolation comes, then you will know the favor and terror of the Lord.”
I want to love you, O Most High. Make me love you.
“Why must I make you? Love me of your own accord.”
You terrify me.
“I am terrifying. Love me.”
You are my hiding place, my shelter. You are my strength and my shield, the lifter of my head. The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
“I have made you. I have unmade you. I have remade you. And I am remaking you.”
But how can this be?
“Tell me, my child of many questions, shall I answer everything, and lessen your trust in me? Or shall you revel in my glory, and behold my lavish mercies?”
One more, and I shall relent: What do you wish of me?
“Have I not shown you, little one, what is good, and what I require of you? Do justly and love mercy, and walk humbly with me. For I am with the lowly, the heart that laments his sin, the one who is desolate and knows I am his terrifying grace. But be excellent in what is good, and innocent of evil. Be as I am. Come near to me, child; for only then will you be able to do such.”
I am afraid.
“Take courage, and be of good cheer: for I cast aside none who come in my name, and this is the year of my favor. Do not despair, for I am your strength; I offer you power, love, and a sound mind. Is this not sufficient for you?”
My mind is unsound, my body undisciplined, my soul desperately wicked.
“Come close to me, child. Let me hold you. Is not my right hand over you?”
And yet I am afraid.
“Child, my child: It is better to fall into my hands than of men, though my hands are terrifying. Come with confidence, my love. Tremble no more.”
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.
“I am. And I will be. But you must trust me. Shall I save a man from drowning only to tie him to the boat and watch him die of exposure? Surely not! Is my arm to short to save, little one?”
Be thou my dignity, thou my delight.
“Child, your glory and your crown is before you. Can you imagine this, that I have blessed you so that you may become a blessing? Draw near to me.”
Whatever befall, still be my vision, O ruler of all.
“Let me show you something, little one. There is this path they call the shifting path, and it winds throughout the whole of the earth. On it alone shall you find the way to my city. It twists and turns and the landscape alters. You cannot leave it for even a moment, for if you linger too long, it may move, and you will never find it again on your own. For, child, don’t you see: It is not the path that moves, but everything surrounding it. And so the earth itself deceives you, here in this prelude to glory.”
Oh, so if I stay on the path, I will find the road to glory, and there the key to save the world?
“Child, it isn’t your duty to save the world. That belongs to another. But to live, you must follow the path, for everything off the shifting path is lost forever.”
Then keep me to the path.
“Only if you follow me.”
The truth is that you are with me always, and that you will never let me go. You have been so good to me, words cannot express the depth of my debt to you. For you comfort me whene’er I’m troubled; you lift my head in my despair. You chastise and rebuke. I have crawled into your lap and wept more than once. And, most often, you laugh at me. You’ve given me a light heart and made me merry despite grief. This makes my joy all the more; I am drunk on such good pleasures.
Spirit of the Most High, stay upon me; counsel me and prompt me at will. For one day I will no longer resist you; one day my joy will be complete. One day the end of the story will come, and thus conclude my dialogue with God.