Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Challenge Of Portrait Painting

Literature scholar Jack Miles in his wonderful book God, A Biography refers to a famous mystic's notion that God eliminates the "successiveness" of men. What the mystic meant by this is that God views we humans as a portrait of ourselves as a whole, not merely the sum of our particular experiences, much like a portrait painter sees his subject.

I have thought of this quite a lot lately, as I have considered the next part of this Tale to tell. I am tempted to "cut to the chase" somewhat, as the world is closing in, and the strains of work, family, and other activities tug at my time and attention. Notwithstanding the statement in my post a short time ago, I am tempted to tell about the day God's presence was so strong, and my continued resistance to His presence so ragged, that I acknowledged Him once and for all. I remember that day well but fear that recounting it may be a letdown, at least for some.

I have mentioned before that I am not much for "practice," and the same disposition has governed my writings in this journal. By and large, I have not plotted the course of these efforts, but relied upon the feel of the moment for what I should write about with each post. By and large, I have left each post as written as a first draft, with subsequent changes made for typos or grammatical problems.

Perhaps because of this, I have found this self-portrait to be very difficult. How can one do justice to the influences from one's past? The regrets from one's past? How can one adequately capture the important decisions of one's life, the forks in the road that were taken, missed, or nearly missed, but that nonetheless lead to the present? How can one make statements about or arguments for God, without diminishing God in the process?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but it is disconcerting to think that, like my resistance to God at one time, my answers to these questions are getting a little ragged as well. In my very first post on this journal, I told you I had a pretty good idea of where this Tale starts, and how it "ends." I was concerned then, and concerned now, about the middle. Well, we are now in the middle of the middle.

With that said, in my next post, I will tell you about the second time I very distinctly felt the presence of God.