Quote: Presence is a Situation

What a great quote to reflect on for Christmas and the arrival of God in creation. It makes me think about all of the opportunities we have had as of late, with the increasing unrest and protests in our country and around the world, where we are being called on to physically show up and be present to the need for justice in our society.

The divine quality of the Bible is not on display, it is not apparent to an inane, fatuous mind; just as the divine in the universe is not obvious to the debaucher. When we turn to the Bible with an empty spirit, moved by intellectual vanity, striving to show our superiority to the text; or as barren souls who go sightseeing to the words of the prophets, we discover the shells but miss the core. It is easier to enjoy beauty than to sense the holy. To be able to encounter the spirit within the words, we must learn to crave for an affinity with the pathos of God.

To sense the presence of God in the Bible, one must learn to be present to God in the Bible. Presence is not a concept, but a situation. To understand love it is not enough to read tales about it. One must be involved in the prophets to understand the prophets. One must be inspired to understand inspiration. Just as we cannot test thinking without thinking, we cannot sense holiness without being holy. Presence is not disclosed to those who are unattached and try to judge, to those who have no power to go beyond the values they cherish; to those who sense the story, not the pathos; the idea, not the realness of God.

The Bible is the frontier of the spirit where we must move and live in order to discover and to explore. It is open to him who gives himself to it, who lives with it intimately.

—From God in Search of Man by Abraham Joshua Heschel

Published by Wess

Teacher, author, Quaker, ​and public theologian. He works at Guilford College, enjoys riding his Triumph Bonneville, and listening to music.

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