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we shall wait quietly for the right question

From the commentary on Abandonment:

May the divine operation of my God be my book, my doctrine, my science. In it are my thoughts, my words, my actions and my sufferings. Not by consulting Your former works shall I become what You would have me to be, but by receiving You in everything. By that ancient road, the only royal road, the road of our fathers shall I be enlightened…

…and also:

 O unknown Love! It seems as if Your wonders were finished and nothing remained but to copy Your ancient works, and to quote Your past discourses! And no one sees that Your inexhaustible activity is a source of new thoughts, of fresh sufferings and further actions….

I appreciate these words because I’ve long felt the Bible has been an obstacle between me and God, instead of a route towards experiencing Him.

I grew up with an attraction to religion but ran up against the same problem again and again, like a fly hitting against a window.

As I understood it, I had to first defy the reason God supposedly gave me and override my understanding of the physical laws which God supposedly created. I had to try to believe things people wrote hundreds of years ago,just because they claimed those things happened, or that God said them, whether or not those claims seemed plausible. I ended up a Buddhist, and I see no reason I shouldn’t always remain one, but so far that has left something unsatisfied.

In college I sometimes went to Riverside Church on the Hudson River to sit and meditate, or visit the bell tower, or attend some event, and I’d had an opportunity to chat with their wonderful minister who had marched with Martin Luther King. All in all I remember being very impressed by the spirit of the place, so much that I decided to join the congregation.

I set up an interview with a minister he asked me something like, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins?” I don’t remember what he asked precisely but I knew that although I wanted at that moment to believe it, I really did not. I could not.

“Yes, “ I lied.

Lied! Lied to the minister that I believed what the Bible said about Jesus, in order to join his church!

I’m sure he knew it too, from the way I undoubtedly blushed. I can’t remember ever feeling much sillier. I wanted at that moment to believe it. But I knew I really didn’t. Why didn’t I say something like: “Well, not really, but I’m open to exploring that.” I guess I had suddenly felt really silly wanting to join their church when I didn’t even believe in Jesus — or in sins, exactly, for that matter. And I didn’t believe a lot of other things in the Bible. What was I doing there, exactly?

I could have said: “Actually, I just feel really good here. There seems to be something here I’m looking for. It’s a really beautiful church, and I love going up in the bell tower and looking out at the city, and there seem to be a lot of nice people here, and I think highly of the Rev. Sloane Coffin.”

I didn’t say that. I just left after the interview and never went back. But:

May the divine operation of my God be my book, my doctrine, my science.

Ahh. That’s… different. What if the minister had asked me: “Are you prepared to allow the divine operation of your God be your book, your doctrine, your science?”

I might have said: “Quite possibly, yes! Whatever God is. Whatever “divine” means.”

Could that have put me on the “royal road” ? Could it now? And interestingly enough, I have been finding as I read this text and others suggested to me here, some of what I know from the Bible has fallen into place. I even found myself trying to remember a psalm my grandmother had tried to teach me, when I was very young and already quite critical and resistant to it, and relearning it and repeating it to myself. The ink-and-paper Holy Book, after all, is part of the “inexhaustible activity” of the universe.

—j., a watchful sister

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