With God in Solitary Confinement
But count them and you will find that only forty-one are enumerated, in- Matthew was a publican. So we may pre- sume that he knew how to count. Why did he list forty-one and say that there are forty-two? If this was a simple error, how is it that it has been perpetrated for twenty centuries? You can see that St, Matthew wished to hide a mystery by the fact that he really pretends to give forty-two names by a cun- ning device. He has three sets of fourteen names each. He repeats the name of Jechonias, the last in the second series, as the first in the third, so that the inattentive reader may never observe that one of the alleged forty-two is missing.
Who is this missing forty-second link? Another biblical curiosity: nearly all the women of the Gospels are named Mary. This makes six. If we had one Mary more, we would have the holy number seven. Is one Mary missing? By the cross there stood only Marys, three of them. The relevant Bible verse sounds very strange: "There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mother's sister, Mary. Two sisters don't have the same name. What if Mary in Hebrew Miriam, "the star of the sea", the star which shows the way to those who sail on the ocean of spirituality is not used in the Bible as a name only?
It seems that it was also a title given to a certain type of Christianwoman in the early church, as the Communists call each other "com- rade", and as there are titles in the army and in masonry. So anybody can become a Mary, just as anybody can become a comrade, or a major in the army. A third mystery: Jesus said, "Whosoever shall do thewill of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and my sister, and mother.
It is easy to understand what it means to hold. But how can one become his mother? He says that this is possible, too. It is a greatprivilege to be God's child, buthowmuchgreater Jesus tells us that this is possible for us. Nestorius fought against calling Mary "Theotokos" the one who gives birth to God , but a general council of the church defeated him.
Christ is God. And Mary held God as a baby in her arms. She washed him, she cared for him, she fed him, she brought him up. Her God was dependent upon her. She is unique as the first and the greatest mother of God, But this experience is not entirely reserved for her. Jesus says that the one who fulfils his will can be his mother, can be with him in the relationship which a mother has towards her child.
What does all this mean? The highest form of love is that of a mother for her child. The child's love towards its mother contains a grain of interest; it turns to its mother for every need. The child's love towards its father is similar: Father gives the pocket money. In every human love some kind of interest is mixed. Only a mother's love is totally self-sacrificing. She gives everything for her children, expecting nothing in return. Mary, the mother of God, gave everythingfor Jesus and never received anything from him, not even good words.
After the resurrection, when he showed himself to so many, comforting their sad hearts, he did not show himself to his mother. There was a purpose in this. He offered her, by this, the highest opportunity: to give to God without claiming ever to receive anything in return. Those who have attained this spiritual position bear the title of a "Mary". I think that this should be the sense of the Catholicword "marianite".
Then Protestants could not object. And now we come back to the one missing link in the genealogy of Jesus. This genealogy is not history. Even a superficial comparison with the genealogy of the Jewish kings in the Old Testament, and with the one in St. Luke, is suffici- ent to show that they do not agree. The genealogy of Jesus according to St. Matthew is not a historical succession, but a ladder of initiation. You begin by identifying yourself with Abraham, the father You then become Jacob, who saw the angels ascending and descending, to teach him that in the spiritual life you cannot stop at any point.
If you do not advance, you slide back. God is at the top of the ladder. Sweet communion, with him in the highest sense of the word is possible only there.
The Voice of the Martyrs - With God in Solitary Confinement
You continue the initiation, reliving the lives of Judah and all the others until you arrive at the stage of Mary, of being to- wards God as a mother is towards her child. The Mary of two thousand years ago gave birth to Jesus Christ, the historical person of whom the Gospels speak. But you too can have your meeting with the archangel Gabriel. Christ can be conceived in your heart, as a result of the forty preceding experiences of communion with saints, common men and sinners of all the ages. You can be a Mary with self-sacrificing love, which wishes only to give, not asking anything in exchange.
The Christ in you, the hope of glory, will be the forty-second person in the chain. Your aim will have been accomplished. You will concentrate on one thing, to serve God who is your child. You will not depart from this, not even when the Communists tempt you with their promises of release if you betray; not even when you are tortured. Hail, Mary, my beloved sister in the fourth cell; hail, Mary, full of grace.
God is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your heart. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should sit near me in a royal prison cell? For lo, as soon as the tapping through the wall of the cell gave me knowledge of your presence and of your faithfulness, my babe leapt in my heart for joy.
God help us all to arrive at the final, missing link in St. Matthew's genealogy. Duty Never Ends He had ink and parchment. John, too, could write to the churches from his exile on Patmos. Wehave no paper and no ink. But there is one way ofwriting which they cannot forbid us: to write with the Spirit on the hearts of men, even if they are far from us. I may as well teach you the technique of this kind of writing, so that you may be able to use it too.
A technique in matters of the Spirit? Usually, Christians are very vague in thinking and speaking about spiritual matters. But there are laws of the Spirit just as there are laws of the material world. It is possible to orientate yourself in the spiritual world, just as you do in the material world.
The seers of old knew not only that they had met an angel, but what legion he belonged to, and what his name was - Michael or Gabriel. When you know the laws of the Spirit, you can use a certain technique, just as a technique in material things becomes possible when you know the natural laws. The basic principles of writing with the Spirit in thehearts of men far away are these: i. Don't think about the man on whom you wish to concen- trate in order to convey to him a message from God, except in the hour of that concentration.
Don't speak about him. He should be out of your mind. Then all your potential of interest and love for him, which would otherwise be dissipated, will be available in the hour of concentration. I tell myself jokes and play chess with myself and hum all kinds of melodies before I concentrate on speaking to you. Meditation must precede the delivery of the message. I must think the message through, and refine it to contain, in the most condensed form, what I consider to be essential for you to know. I must meditate about how the knowledge of this message from God might beautify your soul; -what loss it could befor you not to know exactlythe state ofheart ofyour brothers and sisters injail, you being one soulwith them, their sufferings and doubts and victories being yours.
From meditation I must pass to contemplation. I must see you with my spiritual eyes as I used to see you in church. I must recognise every face. You must be as real to me as if I were actually seeing your picture. More than this, I must see you laughing or weeping according to what I tell you. Medita- tion calls for burning love; contemplation requires an exercise of the imagination.
We can all evoke a loved one in our day- dreams. Exercise this faculty, and you will be able to write in the Spirit. Actually write with letters your message on the hearts of those whom you now have before you in the spirit. Atfirst,it is best to make the gestures withyour hand, as if youwere actually inscribing the words. Never allow the mental pictures of those to whom you are writing to disappear from your view until you can see on their faces that they have understood your message.
There should be a nod, a smile or a shake ofthe head. But thereshould be a reaction. All prisoners, and pastors and Christians of the Underground church should learn this forgotten art, as the possibilities of normal communication become less and less. In the end, prayer is also something like writing with the Spirit on the heart of God. And the technique of real prayer is something like that I have just described, the face which the Christian has before him being that of Jesus Christ.
But it was not really about this that I wished to speak to you today. I have something else to tell you. I have observed that Jesus and the angels, listening to my sermons delivered in the solitary cell, enjoy particularly the Just as my son Mihai used to beg me: "Tell me that storyagain," I have the feeling that they too would like to ask me to repeat a story.
So I will tell you a story: Ayoungking was quarrelsome and gave no peace to the wise oldking of a neighbouring country. The old king entreated for friendly relations, but in vain. The young king started a war. The old king, remembering how many foolish things he him- self had done in his youth, and that there is an age from which we cannot expect wisdom, gave orders to his officers to capture his young enemy alive.
So it was done. He was brought in chains before the victor. The old man pitied the youngster, but pretended to be very angry with him and sentenced him to death. The young king begged for his life. So the old man told him: "I will give you a chance. Tomorrowyou willbe given ajug ofwater, full to the brim. You must carry it from one end of the main street of the city to the other, without spilling a drop.
If you do not succeed, your life is lost. The old king had given orders that on one side of the street there should be a mob to boo the prisoner, on the other side a crowd to cheer him. The prisoner succeeded. He did not spill a drop. The old king asked him: "When so many people were mocking you, did you answer them back?
I had to be careful about myjug. Their acclamation could not help me. I was con- cerned with myjug of water. That is the only thing that counts. If you do not succeed, you perish. Don't seek the applause of men. Don't worry if they mock you. Watch over your soul. Soon I will have to give an account of every second of my life. Today is my fortieth birthday. I have to account for 1,,, seconds. While I was making this calculation, other seconds have passed.
I have a duty to fulfil every second. The fact that I am in solitary confinement does not release me from this duty. As a rule, prisoners pass their time in trifles. I know this from my time in the Nazi prison.
If they are not compelled to do slave labour, they tell each other stories and jokes. Some- times they quarrel. They waste their time, just as some millionaires do. Millionaires use a lot, prisoners very little, of nature's wealth, without always feeling it their duty to give something to the world. In prison there is a feeling of being released from duty, especially when you are in solitary confinement. Who has the right to ask anything from you when you are in such terrible circumstances? But the imperative of life knows no excuses.
Duty is a categ- orical demand, whether you are in happiness or unhappiness. Mocked, hungry, jailed, sick, falsely charged, tortured, alone, you have to serve the Highest. I know my duty. It does not consist so much in doing things. Prison conditions hinder me from accomplishing deeds. Duty consists mostly in becoming something. A more literal rendering of the Hebrew "Ehjeh asher ehjeh" is "I will become what I will become". He himself is constantly becoming some- thing.
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This is my duty too. My duty is to become more and more myself. When God formed me in the hidden place, he made me to be myself, to be in my own way the herald of his glory, to be unique, as God himself is unique. To be yourself is much more than being truthful, or loving, Jesus was not content to be the truth alone.
Truth was too little a thing for him. Hitler said: "Truth is an oft-repeated He. But if we take the classical definition of the word, "truth is correspondence between reality and our thoughts", what about the realities which are incomprehensible to us, which we don't even know? Jesus did not wish to be truth alone. He is truth and way and life. He did not wish to belove alone. He knows howto hate, too. He said to the church at Ephesus: ". This thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. It is writtenwith the first, the middle and the last letters of the alphabet.
But reality has no beginning and no end. Reality is greater than truth. The Greek word for truth is ahtliiay which means, etymologic- ally, "nothing forgotten". But there is something more than alethia; there is the forgetting, too. Truth belongs to the conscious part ofourbeing, a littleisland in the ocean of the unconscious. Love is one among many human feelings. Jesus is more than truth and love. Myths belong to him as much as the truth.
So they have a powerful meaning for me. I have to become myself, aselfnotimprisoned inasetpattern, as my body is imprisoned in this cell. I must become the greatest being that I can become here on earth; "I will become what I will become", taking as my final goal Jesus, who did so. Then I will be able to fulfil an outward duty even here. And what if I am tortured? Christ saved a robber while he was on the cross. My brethren to my right and left have some- times brought their torturers to Christ. A Communist officer, beating a Christian prisoner with a rubber truncheon, put his stick aside and asked: "What is it about you?
How is it that your face is shining? You have something like a halo round your head. How can you look at me so lovingly? I would never love a man who jailed and beat me. How is it that you can obey the foolish commandment of your Christto love your It is not that I love you only because Jesus orders me to. Jesus has given me a new heart and a new character. A nightingale cannot sound like a crow, because it is a night- ingale and not a crow.
So a Christian can only love. We are in hell. Sometimes, during nights of horror, I look at the cup of water which is in my cell. Only this assures me that it is not the eternal hell. There the damned have no water. But even in hell you are not released from duty. How often I have said the words of the creed: "He descended into hell.
That is what we are doing. We bring souls to Christ by tap- ping the gospel through the wall. The important thing is always to have one aim, and to pursue it in stormy and fair weather. Jesus wants our eyes to be single. Man always does what he is; he reacts to outward circumstances according to his character.
The Romans had a proverb: "Quod agis, agi" do what you do , dojust one thing. Most of us, when we are praying, think of the pancake on the fire which might burn. While making pancakes, we think how nice it would be to pass our time in prayer. While speaking with one man, we think how useful it would be to pass our time with another. We never do anything well.
Only one thing can be done well at a time. Those who participate in too many sports never become champions. Our earthly life is short. Let us not be like the ass in the story who, having two heaps of hay before him, died of hunger, not knowing which to choose. But let us concentrate upon our single aim: to develop a heavenly character, which by con- tagion will fill God's heaven with men. Samson in Prison But communicatingwith them through the wall and the telegraph is functioning through many cells to my right and my left , I discovered that none of them were conscious of being martyrs.
They felt that God was punishing them for their sins. Even St. Paul, who suffered so much for his faith, called himself "the chief of sinners". We must distinguish between the appearance and the substance, between what people call "facts" or "truth" and their spiritual significance. Who can work as a conspirator in the Underground church and always speak what is generally called "truth"? When I introduced myself, I did it under a cover-name. The one with whom I was speaking might be an informer.
If asked by some- one where I was yesterday, a factually correct answer might bring many people into great trouble. Today again the inter- rogator told me: "You are -a Christian, and a pastor. Your religion obliges you to tell us the whole truth. If I had complied with his demands, other brethren would have been arrested. Nobody can be a leader in the Underground church without re-evaluating the notion of truth. So, to come back to the problem of martyrs. To outward appearance, anyone who has been killed or imprisoned for his convictions is a martyr. But the substance may be otherwise.
God may use the Communists to punish you for a sin. He can lead them to put you in a solitary cell because he wishes to deal better with your soul. The Jews had a deep respect for men like these who had died "alkidush hashem", for the glory of the Name. But Jesus called the slaughtered Galileans simply "sinners". He looked at the substance. Sinners - that is what even martyrs are before God.
Luther makes a distinction between "sinners of the left" and "sinners of the right", between scoundrels and law-abiding men who observe the religious commandments, even that of self-sacrifice, in order to earn paradise. Both types of men are sinners. I am nothing else than a sinner. I have never known a-man worse than me. The One who can free me prefers to keep me in prison as a punishment for my transgression. Samson was in prison because he had sinned, although the Philistines had jailed him because of his noble fight for the Mosaic cause.
I am a sinner, but I know that if I accept my punishment with whole- hearted humility, my strength will grow. Like all the other prisoners, I had my hair cut short until today. Now they announce that I am to be allowed to let it grow, a sure sign that I shall soon be brought before the court. They make you look a little bit more human before presenting you to the judges. The hair will grow very slowly in this sub- terranean cell, in which never a ray of sun enters. But still it will grow.
This made me think about Samson. His strength grew simultaneously with his hair. I wiE become an embodiment of power, and will be able to slay more Philistines at my death than I slew in my whole Christian life. I will kill them, even if I die with them. Once this power has come back, I will no longer wish for my release. This age has produced powers unknown in the past. But I will draw from God the still unknown powers of the ages to come, the hidden spiritual powers.
Though they remain behind prison walls, those who possess this power can demolish temples and build them again. They can remain in a dark cell, They can be sad and depressed, yet fill many souls with gladness. How I would like to become what Samson became in prison! True worship is not that on Mount Gerizim, the place of the Samaritan temple, nor that in Jerusalem.
True worship is to grow in power to destroy everything which opposes the One crucified for me. Sin is every second of my life spent on something other than the destruction of what opposes the triumph of love.
There are not certain deeds which are sinful under all cir- cumstances, and other deeds which are always good. The mud with which we are all smeared contains in its mixture many compassionate actions. Charity given to a drunkard, who after having drunk liquor with your money, beats his wife, is sin. Judith, on the other hand, killed. So did Jael. Around me, in the other cells, are many patriots who have killed.
It was for the sake of freedom. It is foolish to consider that knitting a pullover for some lazy man is a good deed, while the attempt of German generals to stop the slaughter of millions of innocent victims by killing Hitler is to be despised as murder. For me, the only criterion of a deed is: does it prepare the way for the final triumph of love, or not?
We have to choose between good as the means, and good as the end. If I am always good towards all men, even those who by deceit and terror hinder the victory of love, good will never triumph. The wicked will profit by my meekness, and consolidate the position of evil. If I choose good as my goal, I have to commit many actions which are condemned as evil in the moral catalogue of the world. The Bible writes about God sending enticing spirits. My only scruple is in having scruples about such an attitude.
God praised those who killed Sisera, Agag, Holofernes. The same words are used in the Bible about Jael, who killed Sisera, In one of the cells on this corridor is Nina, a Rumanian girl, who did something similar. If it was right to kill a foreign oppressor several thousands of years ago, it must be right now also. The New Testament praises such heroes of the Old Testament. The Jewish people had to be defended. The Rumanian people have the same right. The same Spirit of God who inspired i Corinthians 13, the poem of love, inspired the book of Esther, in which the enemies of God are ruthlessly destroyed.
The Holy Spirit has arranged for both to be part of the same holy book. What is more, the first Christians had as their only holy Scriptures the scrolls of the Old Testament. The New Testament was written decades later, and completed towards the end of the first century. God has brought together poems of love and books which teach determination to uproot the enemy, in order to perfect us and give us only one aim: to cause love to triumph at last.
Bloody fighting against tyrants must work together with acts of tender charity towards the attaining of this aim. We must set ourselves in our life the highest aim, to be his servants and the servants of all. Then "good" or "evil" deeds will have the same result, to bring love to triumph. The question is a very real one for me. Christians around me have participated in the patriotic fight against the Communist oppressor and have had to kill. They tap their confessions through the wall.
But was their action sin? Would I take part in such a fight? In Dostoievsky's The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan says, in effect: "It is not God that I don't accept, understand this, it is the world that he has created, the divine world which I do not accept, and cannot agree to accept I am as convinced as a child t h a t.
I would rather remain And besides, they make the har- mony too expensive, we cannot afford to pay quite so much to enter. That is why I am hurrying to return my entrance ticket. If I am an honest man, I am obliged to return it as far in advance as possible.
That is what I am doing. It is not God I don't accept, Alyosha, I am only returning the ticket to him in the most respectful manner. Tell me and don't lie. My answer is: "I would. He was ready to sacrifice his own child for this. His followers know that the five octillions of atoms which constitute the body of the child are the shrine of a spirit, perhaps the prison cell of a spirit, and that the spirit will be happy to have got rid of it.
They believe what the Bhagavad Gita says, that the killer may be no more than the fulfiller of God's predestination for a man. It is right, when necessary, to kill for the sake of freedom, of fatherland, of God. If it is sacred history when the Jews fought against tyrants, why should the fight of Rumanians to get rid of Communist slavery not be sacred also?
No, you have not sinned, patriotic fighters. Augustine said: "Love God, and do what you will. Nobody is so courageous a warrior as the Lord himself. He never slumbers nor sleeps. Christianity teaches us not so much to be good as to be warriors for the good. You cannot be a warrior for the good without fighting, and so striking not only abstract evil and evil institutions but also evil men. The middle of the day is ours. We do not know what the future holds for us.
And I do not want his Klingdom in the future only. Fight today for his Kingdom ofrighteousness,peace and love. Sermon to My Own Soul I can no longer cry out to him with my voice. I can no longer speak across the distance to my brothers and sisters. Today, for the first time, I burst out into yelling cries, for no obvious reason. I have often heard such cries, interrupting for a few moments the deep silence of our prison.
We all knew then that one of us had become mad. The cries very soon, ceased. I did not know how the guards quietened those whose nerves had cracked. Now I know. They have put me in a strait-jacket, very tightly bound. They have put a gag in my mouth. The only one to whom I can speak is you, my soul. David often spoke to his own soul, asking it to praise the Lord, or questioning why it was troubled. But David, too, knew mad- ness. The Bible recounts how he pretended to be a lunatic while living with the Philistines.
Psychiatrists tell us that no- body simulates madness unless he has a tendency towards it. I will do what David did. I will now deliver, in utter silence, a sermon to you, my soul. I ask you, first of all, to take knowledge of yourself and to declare, like God, "I am. My body had all these things, but, notwithstanding, I was not happy; I sighed for something more. Who was this -"I", dissatisfied when the body had plenty of all that it needed? It was you who wished to know, out of purely scientific in- It was you who took delight in art and philosophy, but also in exag- gerations and refinements of bodily needs, even when these did harm to the body.
And what bread! But I don't just vegetate. I live. I sometimes laugh heartily at jokes which I tell myself, being alone in my cell. I think about politics, about how nations which I have never seen should be ruled; I remember works of art; I lead a life of worship. All this is you. Say, my Tsoul, "lam. He was healthy. He was not satisfying a need of the body by destroying himself. You know my secret. You know the place where I have hidden some thirty sleeping pills which, taken at once, will ensure that I do not become a Judas.
These suicides are acts of love and honour. They protect the Underground church. Love, decency, honour, belong to you, my soul, and not to the body. I am gagged and cannot speak. But because of this, you must speak even more loudly, and assert yourself: "I am. You sawme dancing with heavy chains aroundmy ankles. Who was the one who exuberantly rejoiced? It was not my body. My body had no reason to dance. There was no music to incite it to do so. It was you, my soul.
The body will die. Around me, prisoners are dying, because of the great hunger, the cold and the tortures. But who has ever seen a soul die? I have lost everything I had in the world, but if you are saved, I shall have kept the pearl of greatest price. The enemies of Jesus took away everything he had. Naked, His foes stood around it, rejoicing. But at the last minute he spoiled their joy by saying: "Father, into thy hands I surrender my spirit. And by this he lives and rulesk for ever more. You must only repent, in the biblical-sense of the word.
The Greek word "metanoic? Etymologically, metanota means "a change of mind" or "to go beyond reason". Parallel biblical expressions are "to receive a new heart", "to become a new creature", "to deny oneself", "to be born again", "to become a child", "to be clean every whit". I will tell you whatis wrong withyou, mysoul; whyyou need a radical transformation. Some believe that when we repent we have to change the contentof our soul.
Theyfilltheir souls with heavenly thoughts and feelings instead of earthly ones. But can a damaged car be repaired by changing the passengers who travel in it? The experience of men who deceive themselves about being Chris- tians shows that a broken car does not move, no matter who are the passengers. You may have all your thoughts and feelings directed towards God, and still not be in friendship with him, because the intimate structure of the soul, its psychological mechanism, its fundamental defect, has not been correct. Re- pentance must affect not only our thoughts and feelings and wills but the very being of the soul, its complicated organism out of which thoughts, emotions and actions flow.
My soul, I reproach you for one great defect: the lack of a sense of proportion. Jesus tried to convey this sense in the words "Fools and blind. Ye have omitted the weightier matters of the law.. Paul asks: "Are we stronger than the Lord? The animals cannot speak, as I cannot because of being gagged. They have interesting things to say. The story of Balaam's ass shows this. How much our dog could have told us! He knew beforehand that I was going to be arrested. He was miserable for two weeks, and barked the whole time.
But animals cannot speak. You never used to be worried about the dumbness of animals. You are only worried now that I am gagged. But the whole Communist camp is gagged. Nobody is allowed to say everything he thinks. I am in a strait-jacket. But some angels are in everlasting chains.
How much worse it must be for winged beings, accus- tomed toflyfrom planet to planet! I am obsessed only with the suffering of one little insignificant being - me. Why can't you have a right sense of proportion? Why don't you worry about yourself in proportion to the share of your suffering in the universal pain, and in proportion to what you, an unimportant man, mean in this infinite and eternal universe? You judge things, events and men according to their useful- ness or harm foryou, as if the universe existed for you, and not the reverse. True repentance is a reversal of proportions.
God is at the centre. I am an extremely valuable being, but one of innumer- able billions of beings, of whom every one has to bear the fate assigned to him by the Creator. The soul which has repented does not become lost in details. The whole world, and not only the world of men, is passing through a huge and long-lasting catastrophe, and I amworrying about what is happening to me. During the war, a quarrel broke out in a family, in my presence, because the husband reproached the wife for not dusting a cupboard. At the same moment, tens of thousands of young lives were being wiped out in Stalingrad, London, France and our own country.
If this defect, this lack of a sense of proportion, is not re- paired in a soul, the fact that a man has changed from being an. The soul will continue to be busy with trifles, with this difference, that now The object at which youlook with short-sighted eyes will be a different object, but your eyes will remain short-sighted. Consider yourself, my soul, as a small detail in a huge mechanism, as one cell in a vast organism.
White blood cor- puscles are sacrificed in order that the whole body may live and be healthy. You have to suffer for somehidden purpose of God, about which you know as little as the white corpuscle knows why it has to die. Let it be enough for you that you are suffering for the Kingdom of God. Jesus looked on his suffering like this. He accepted it willingly and, even on the cross, thought not about himself but about the thief near him, about his mother and about you. Drown your small suffering in the vast ocean of pain. Believe that there is meaning in it, and you will be comforted.
Listen to me, my soul, and praise the Lord in all his doings. Word Made Flesh In the language of the chosen people, words are not only symbols and echoes of a reality but they are themselves reality. John thought out in Hebrew the prologue of his Gospel, he meant it to mean: "In the beginning was the reality.
And the reality was with God. And the reality was God. There is a blessing in night vigils. Burglaries, murders and rapes occur at night. Stalin did not sleep during the night. That is when he received people and planned his mass murders. Saints must use the weapon of night vigils to counteract the power of darkness. Those who have to work during the day cannot do this.
But I have the privilege of being an isolated prisoner. I can sleep during the day. I can keep vigil during the night. I pass my nights in spiritual exercises, in prayer, in travelling in spirit round the world and remembering every country before God, in preparing and delivering sermons. Every night I also compose a poem. I compose it in my mind, not having any paper to write it down.
Poor poems of an ungifted spirit! What are they compared to the works of the great artists? But even so, in my concern with metre and rhyme, I can feel the difficulty which poets must have in putting love and wisdom and life into poetry. The Word became flesh two thousand years ago. The "Word would like to befleshtoday, too, and not merelyapiece of poetry. The Word desires to be incarnate once more in a man who can perform deeds of love, and can also speak harshly for righteousness' sake and rebuke wrongdoing, as Jesus did — a man who leaves all, loves all and offers himself as a sacrifice for all, even for those who betray him and scourge him; even for those whom he himself has had to strike with a whip for the sake ofjustice.
The word of God and the spirit of love are always longing for incarnation. Christ was incarnate not only in the carpenter Jesus; he also lived in St. We throw only words into the agitated sea of this world, and the multitude of words takes the place of reality. God has brought me into the sphere of silence. The silence around me is absolute. You cannot hear the guards approach. God wishes me to unlearn words. It is becoming more and more difficult for me to formulate long, clear sentences. Per- haps they are putting some drug in the food to destroy my mind.
I live in profound silence, a silence like that inhabited by the fish in the depths of the sea. The secret sign of thefirstChris- tians was a fish. I am beginning to love this silence. I sometimes make up verses to pass the time, but what I would really like would be to make men, each one of whom would be a fine piece of poetry. In the original Greek of Ephesians, it is written that Chris- tians are the poem potema of God.
His poems are serene, flexible, rich in meaning. He has em- bodied his poems in flesh. Each one has a different subject. One is the embodiment of heroism, another of sanctity, another of wisdom, yet another of practical common sense. Chris- tians are not only different, but also sometimes divergent and even contradictory characters. But every one is pleasing to the Lord. I would also like such a task. First of all, I would like to make myself into a temple of embodied love, so that those who follow the wise men and shepherds of old may see in me Christ in miniature, and worship the Saviour in me.
Instead of a world in which bookshops sell volumes of ser- mons and poetry, I would like a world in which each man and woman is a poem of high thought, filled with melody and colour. If I am a hindrance to the coming of such a world, may God kill me here in prison! But this is how the world should be. I will do my part towards the coming of such a kingdom by following the example of Laban.
His name in Hebrew means "white". He had two daughters, Rachel and Leah. A young man, Jacob, loved the beautiful Rachel. But Laban did not allow him to have her, unless he took the ugly Leah too. Laban was a just man, and did not allow preferential love. Christian love must embrace both the good and the bad. Goethe called colour the suffering of light, because colour is the result of the tearing asunder of light beams while passing- through a prism.
Full, undivided light is white, "laban". So the man who cultivates the white in his soul walks with devotion, as in a liturgy, through the world of the unloved and unlovely Leahs, whose constantly weeping eyes are unpleasant to look upon. It is a world full of girls whose hearts are broken because nobody loves them.
Not being loved, they become uglier and uglier, and even a saint like Jacob does not want them. He desires only to pass his life with the beautiful Rachel. For her he works zealously for fourteen years, and it seems to him but a few days. He would not have worked one day for Leah. Then they had a shakedown. All you can have on is your boxers and your socks. When we were walking out in line out of the tank, the main sergeant was a female, an African American lady.
She was waiting, inspecting everybody as we came out of the tank. I have breasts. Put your shirt back on. You need to go in there, grab your shit, and get the fuck out there. My first reaction was to push her back. I pushed her back, and she fell back and slid across the floor. Then they picked me up, made me go get my stuff, and then they put me in solitary confinement.
They put me in solitary confinement because I pushed her, but she made it seem like it was protective custody. Mind you, the tank is a homosexual tank. I was in there going crazy. Solitary at Lew Sterrett was different than Oklahoma City. In Oklahoma City, at least when you looked out your window you could see other people, talk to them.
Serving God in Solitary Confinement
But in Dallas, the view out the window in my door was nothing but a white wall. In solitary confinement in Lew Sterrett, you have your own shower. They bring you a tray of food to your door. Every vent is connected to all the other cells. The inmate who was in the cell next to me, he basically had a crush on me because he had seen me being put in there. All I knew was his nickname, Red. He was in solitary because he had a lot of tattoos, some with supposed gang affiliations, and so he kept getting into fistfights and stuff.
So he was in protective custody too. I would move my bed, my mat by the vent, and we would talk through the vent. We would pretend that we were out in the free world. When I get out, should I try to be a man? Why do I have to go through this? Why am I going through this? Why am I getting treated even worse? It was just that one guy. I asked for a psychiatrist.
The only thing the psychiatrists did when they came and talked to me was put me on Celexa for depression and another pill that I forget the name of. I was in that solitary cell for the rest of my year at Lew Sterrett, so nine months of solitary. I was talking to myself a lot. Red would hear me talking to myself. The other guy actually, his mind was gone. He thought he was a person from the Bible.
Every day I would wake up, and he would say scriptures of the Bible. I thought, Oh god. Come here. Come talk to me. I had a routine already. Get my breakfast tray. Eat my breakfast. Go back to sleep. Wake up. Lunchtime I eat my sandwich. They called it a cold tray. The only time that it changes is dinner. You get a hot meal.
It was loud. People would be yelling, kicking doors all the time. And I remember feeling scared when it was time to sleep, worried that anyone could open my door and come at me anytime. They could open the door and call me out for a nurse and then an inmate could be walking by and try to hurt me or something. I felt like I basically slept with one eye open and one eye closed. I read the Dallas Morning News every day from front to back. Did the crosswords. That was my only entertainment. I could also go to a gym by myself for an hour a day. I remember being let out and walking down the hall, and people would be spitting out their windows, smearing their own shit on themselves.
But Red kept me sane. What you want to eat? Get dressed. Are you coming? Meanwhile, the guy in the cell on the other side of him could hear us and would make fun of Red. Just blank them out. My mother came to get me out when I was released in , and I went to live with her for a while.
I was overwhelmed when I first got out. It took a month for me to be able to break off the thinking that people were staring at me or that they were going to attack me. One day my godmother Nikki took me to a place called Traders Village, which is like a flea market, where they have vendors outside in the open. I got there, and as soon as I got there I felt like something broke inside me. It took me a long time to break off that. Then I would go eat by myself and hurry up and go back upstairs.
I was like that for a while. And ever since I left jail I never read the newspaper now because it reminds me too much of being in there. I met Miss Nell through my best friend, Pocahontas. She had me come to a chat they held once a month, and Miss Nell was the guest speaker. I had bad anxiety.