This Very Hour

Martin Buber [‘Between Man and Man’, p 68]=

“Certainly the relation of faith is no book of rules which can be looked up to discover what is to be done now, in this very hour. I experience what God desires of me for this hour — so far as I do experience it — not earlier than in the hour. But even then it is not given me to experience it except by answering before God for this hour as my hour, by carrying out the responsibility for it towards him as much as I can. What has now approached me, the unforeseen, the unforeseeable, is word from him, a word found in no dictionary, a word that.. demands my answer to him. I give the word of my answer by accomplishing among the actions possible that which seems to my devoted insight to be the right one. With my choice and decision and action – committing or omitting, acting or persevering – I answer the word, however inadequately, yet properly; I answer for my hour.”

And [pp 69-70]=

“God tenders me the situation to which I have to answer; but I have not to expect that he should tender me anything of my answer. Certainly in my answering I am given into [God’s] power.. but I cannot measure heaven’s share in it, and even the most blissful sense of grace can deceive. [In coming to an answer, I am ‘touched’ by my own conscience], “but not.. the routine conscience, ..the play-on-the-surface conscience, [but] the unknown conscience in the ground of being, which needs to be discovered ever anew, the conscience of the ‘spark’.. The certainty produced by this conscience.. is uncertain certainty; but.. the.. person who is addressed.. answers.

“[This] has nothing to do with ‘individualism.’ I do not consider the individual to be either the starting point or the goal of the human world. But I consider the human person to be the irremovable central place of the struggle between the world’s movement away from God and its movement towards God. This struggle takes place.. in the realm of public life.. Yet the decisive battles of this realm as well are fought in the depth.. of the person.”

We are free. God stands back and awaits our choice and decision and action. He will join with us in this, helping us, if we ask for that assistance [power, guidance, inspiration].. But even then God will not ‘do it all for us.’ Even when we play the best childish ‘victim card’ ever, refusing to take responsibility for our hour because we are supposedly so very hopeless and helpless, God will not disrespect us by rescuing us..

God will never overwhelm our freedom, by shows of magic, by demonstrations of miracles, by intemperate fits that threaten to punish us unless we kow tow, by displays of majesty, omnipotence, dominion. God even withdraws the holiness of divinity from us, so as not to humiliate us in our fragile self-belief– which in truth contains more self-disbelief than any real trust in our own nature, soul, spirit, heart. God is not out to cow us into submission, even by impressing us. Occasionally, as a concession to our weakness, God reveals a little of the divine marvellousness, we get a few ravishing glimpses of the eternal beauty more sublime than the oceans, as Plato put it, we get a few intoxicating drinks of the divine bliss more ecstatic than any release, orgasm, joy, known in life..

This is not the point.

God wants a partner, a friend, a co-worker, not a kicked dog, nor an arrogant cur. This is why we are free. God requires our heart, and we can only give our heart freely.

It is more than that.

God finds a beauty hidden in the soul, and a worthiness still smouldering even in the ashes of the burned out furnace of the heart.

In our rush to value God, we forget he valued us, he held us in his love, before we loved him.

This is the point.

In God’s love — in God’s delight that our soul lives, in God’s grave respect that our heart beats — we must come, finally, to the proper belief in our soul’s ‘bearing fruit that will last’, and to the necessary trust in our heart’s risk-taking passion.

That God will not do it for us is because he wants us to have the flowering and the honour.

He wants to celebrate what we can do.

He wants not only a partner, a friend, a co-worker, he wants a heart divinised, even as his heart was humanised in the very imagining of us before we were made.

God first comes to us as Light, and this is the Face.

God finally comes to us as Fire, and this is the Heart.

Face to face, and Heart to heart; this is the point.

Thus, face it, and use your heart. Do not be afraid of yourself. Do not refer everything to God. By believing in your soul beauty and by trusting your heart worthiness, you love God because you give whatever you have for God. It won’t be perfect, but then it need not be so, because it is yours. It is your gift to God, it has your signature on it, and that makes it precious in the sight of God who desires you to flower and intends you to prove true.

Thus do you glorify God in your action, and thus in his Spirit, God glorifies you.

Self-doubt, self-hatred, and the despair in which we turn against the self and repudiate being a self, and whoever or whatever put these poisons in our depths, must be overcome, expelled, digested.. This will take time, work, tears. It will remove from our depths that entire and deepest assumption that God wants ruin for us. This judgement is of the devil. We will not clarify, at depth, our confusion over the devil and God until we break through to the knowledge that we are loved by God.. Then, however much we are negated by the voice of the devil, the ultimate ‘inner saboteur’, that voice will lose its power, because it will come from outside, trying to go within. But it will not get within, it will be expelled from within, since God alone will be within. When we know we are loved, believed in, trusted, by God, nothing ‘hinders’ us anymore, and many things become possible.

Our soul is also the Temple where God dwells, and our heart is also the Abyss where God toils, and the Furnace where God burns away dross and uncovers gold.

Yes, love God. But, forgive yourself– only then will you realise God forgives unreservedly. It is forgotten, wiped out, as if it never happened, both what was done to you and what you did as consolation, revenge, self-solace. It did not ruin you. Only in the devil’s eyes were you ruined, and you let that false seeing become your eyes. It takes time, work, tears. It is nothing facile, glib, easy. None the less, at the end of it, as you emerge, you will see both that neither are you ruined, nor are any of all the others ruined. The errors, the tragic betrayals, are terrible, but they are borne in God’s love. We have to make him suffer. It is right. We have to force him to go deep. It is right. He does this, not because it is right, but because it is radical love. He will not, even in this tragedy, remove our freedom. But he will join us, and even subject himself to us, to bring us through.

Obviously, in forgiving ourselves, we forgive God. This is more than right; it is love.

God remembers our primal beauty, before it was ruined, as we recall with aching tenderness our children before they entered the world. God also foresees our final beauty after we have come through. What ruined us, for a time, will add to that final victory, for all time, world without end.

When you begin to understand, you will realise that the most wonderful thing of all was being given an hour, because it was your hour.

Use it, and know you use it with God’s blessing. Do not be hindered, within, by the Adversary. It is enough that you will have to meet him, without, but that too is fated, and you will overcome even that ordeal, when you call for help from the Mashiach who broke the power of the devil in this world. The Redeemer never defended himself, and this is the open secret.. The ruin from which we are defended has got us in its grip. Paradoxically, it is when the ruin is an open wound, within and without, that it can be changed.

This is the point.

You are given your hour, and this is the hour God blesses and is moved by, filled by the pathos of your vulnerability and generosity.