2015. május 6., szerda

Strong winds; a visit to T. Carlyle

Strong winds above London. So strong as if the globe would be blown a further away. The thick grey clouds give only slowly way to the light. Rain mixed with plains landing at Heathrow. Almost a Biblical image of the struggle to break open the skies to see again what is beyond.


'And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying onto me, Saul, Saul, why pesecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutes.' (Acts 22,7-8) 'I am your History whom you are passing by without understanding'.


Paul's story is an encouragement that suddenly we can face reality as it is. That all the chaotic motives of life, with their thousand loose threads, suddenly begin anew.

If only as individuals, and as a culture, all of us fell into those interior, in which Paul's and Christ's clarifying conversation took place. Just like the winds outside my window; all what is outside is excluded, everything is internal now in this conversation: 'Those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.' (Acts 22,9) Facing what should be faced face to face. Paul had the strength.


We need to recover the intensity of his attention. He saw Christ because he was determined to observe and learn from the Lord of history.


But how to create this ability? How to re-create this ability of ours to give prime attention to 'history', just as well as our stories? We need this Biblical silence. My visit on an equally windy to Thomas Carlyle's house in Old Cheyne Row gave a sense of this 'school of attention'. Carlyle was praised for his ability to bring persons from the past alive. Oscar Wilde said of his The History of the French Revolution that Carlyle made music of history. Events and characters became alive and vivid, as a fruit of his contemplating past history. The secret is paying prime attention. It is very telling, Carlyle built a sound proof room in their attic – otherwise he was unable to work. I am just marvelling the intensity of this listening while reading his classic, the Friederich II. Of Prussia.   

This is almost a Biblical imagination. Carlyle is a good encouragement to learn to focus on our own 'Biblical' history. We will never be able to see God again unless we learn to devote ourselves fully to this listening, this focused vision. The silence of Carlyle's house at Cheyne Row has deeply marked me and speaks since. Those semi dark but festal interiors utter the words, '…Regain your sight!' (Acts 22,12)




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