Yesterday on the bus to work, opening up A Course in Miracles at random, I read Workbook Exercise 157, and it just tore at my heart, the thought that the day might come when I would close my eyes, “gently forget the world,” and, stepping into eternity for a moment, experience the presence of God directly. This is the Gospel promise described in John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
I’ve wanted that experience all my life, and arguably since the beginning of time, but particularly since my twenties when I began to read about it in books like the Yoga Sutras and Yogananda’s Autobiography, undaunted by the belief, expressed in The Cloud of Unknowing and other Christian classics, that it was only to be had after the death of the body. Of course, I wanted many other things, too, failing to see them as contradicting my desire for God.
Increasingly, as I approach age seventy, I’m coming to want that direct knowledge of God for us all, as soon as we can be made fit to have it. What more loving wish could I have for anyone than that they’d realize that this alone is the Pearl of Great Price, and everything else only has value insofar as it leads to this great awakening to All Love? Paul counted all things as dung in comparison, “that he might win Christ” (Philippians 3:8); he’d been thoroughly taught the valuelessness of every other seeming good, and he knew that to know Christ is to know God also.
How strange it is to reflect that I go to Friends’ meeting every week and never speak of that yearning! Of course, lovers never do like to speak of their love other than to each other, and this might explain why I never hear any other Friend speak about that yearning, either; but what odd things we sometimes talk about instead, when we open our mouths to give vocal ministry! Is it time for those of us who find the wait for God painful to come out of the closet about our longing? Are we afraid that someone will tell us we’re not yet worthy of what we’re craving? Let them! I throw this blog posting out like a message in a bottle, hoping that the sea will bring it to some fellow sufferer who might find comfort and encouragement in it.