2014. október 13., hétfő

Psalm 71 and the Late Turner

'Upon you have I leaned from my birth, when you drew me from my mother's womb, my praise shall be always with you' (Ps 71:6). Upon you have I leaned from my birth, when you drew me from my mother's womb, my praise shall be always with you' (Ps 71:6). Upon you have I leaned from my birth, when you drew me from my mother's womb, my praise shall be always with you' (Ps 71:6). Listening to the origins is re-valuated in these times. The turmoils of the age, the constant machine-noise of the city (in my case, London) demands this turning back. What happens, what do we observe when we look back to our long shadow, our past? In the well of our depth, we find an original commitment to God. This is true despite the fact that neither can we properly name Him, nor commit ourselves immediately to his Presence. The Paslmist's words form a call to contemplate this lost image of God, which is the lost image of ourselves. Also, that of history, which we cannot name either.

This is the birth of the psychic space in us. This interior is long awaited. It cries out for our ability to name things, to reflect upon our lives. 'Let my mouth be full of your praise, and your glory all the day long.' (Psalm 71:8) This is in this flexible space, regained inner order, where the chaos of our world can be accommodated again. I read this surrounding chaos of history personified in the request: 'In you, O Lord, I seek refuge, let me never be put to shame... Deliver me from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the evildoer and the oppressor.' (Psalm 71:1.4.)
All judgement and action, political, moral, and spiritual must be born from this inner place. If we do not have 'names' for the events of our world, how could we act with integrity in it? 


Our most profound instinct is not sexual but social. That is, the desire for the 'other', to create and sustain a loving relationship. It seems, there is an even deeper 'instinct' in us, an even more intense passion. This is the above passion for words, the desire to create and recreate the human interior. In other words, this most profound passion in us for 'naming' the world. As this being the precondition of shaping it for the better.

As an illustration of this ability to create the syntax and grammar of seeing our reality in a human way, Turner's late paintings come to mind from Tate Britain. The exhibition 'Late Turner' aptly illustrate our turning back to the hidden and lost God-image which lies behind us, somewhere at the origins of our journey. Turner's increasingly becoming abstract and puzzling for his contemporaries in the last decade of his life is the realm of the Psalmist. The visible lines of nature, shapes and contours, indeed become more and more blurred and undefined. This is an expression of a kind of historical uncertainty. The late 1840's were indeed a turning point perceived by the ageing artist. The object of these late canvases is only seemingly a particular point in nature. Though the scenes are often named with geographical precision, the subject matter of the late Turner is much bigger than the visible. It is history itself. That historical path, increasingly complex and unreflected, which occupies Turner's failing eyes.

Room 4 bears the title 'That Real Sea Feeling'. Room five is 'Last Works'. There is one painting which captures my memory in particular now, when meditating on Psalm 71. 'Storm'. The sea, with its waves, is as if in a distance. The brute force of nature, water erupting on the cliffs, is clearly stated. Yet, the waves are seen from a distance. Their power is highlighted if we translate it into the categorical imperative which the Psalmist, the observer of our history, formulates. We must see beyond the chaotic forces of the raging sea of History. One must focus on a distant face, our innermost thirst being reflected in this, at present invisible, imago Dei. The face of God as the presence of desired human interior. This tentative recognition straight away brings to memory the last, calm sea paintings of Turner. When the sea is tamed only to pose for us motionless, in white, in quiet breading.

13.10.2014. Pimlico, London.


O Lord, open in me your wisdom.
Open in me your compassion for the world.
Open in me your never failing Presence in order that
I may regain all the time I lost and emptied of love.
Open in me, o Lord, the richness of your vision,
in order to better perceive you and all the needs
which become visible in the light of your Face,
to which we should turn in time, now.

2014. szeptember 16., kedd

A beautiful space


There is an immense beauty in attempting to find a nourishing centre for our lives. Christians put an emphasis on finding the vivifying centre. Both, personal and 'general' history invite us to this journey. While praying Psalms 132 and 133 from Common Worship, Morning Prayer, a special 'wind' is perceived. It comes from the centre of our lives… It is whirling, moving, and moves us, makes us open.

It is said that identity is always best defined in terms of a 'double identity'. Being an English-European, a Christian-European, an Anglo-Catholic ‒ are expressions of this firmer grounded identity. If we have no other option than living in a world which has become irrevocably pluralistic, global, and complex, we need to build up a dialogue between our self and the history. Finding this healthy gap between us and the world is liberating. It is that 'space' which makes us humans. In it we have distance from the events of the world; and from ourselves.

The Temple of the Lord is a powerful expression of this need. Also, the 'Temple' is that pole which sets up a space for reflection. This 'psychic space' is filled up by love. That is why the vision of the world and ourselves which we acquire in this human interior, is the only objective vision of our lives. Psalm 132 makes us understand the value of the effort to build a Temple to the Lord or restore it. 'I will not allow my eyes to sleep, nor let my eyelids slumber, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob' (Psalm 132,4-5).

However impenetrable and chaotic the world surrounding us might be, we know one thing for sure. This is the core of the Biblical experience of the divine. Namely, that it is Beauty which attracts and redeems us. We must utter these beautiful words which can reverse the whole course of derailed human history. 'Behold how good and pleasant it is to dwell together in unity.  It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard.' (Psalm 132,2-3) This alternative history of beauty in us which is solely redemptive for whatever happens in time and space.  




O, Lord of history. Through the gate of your Psalms

Let us enter into the beautiful dance which happens between you and our world.

It is our alternative history, the story of our true self. We pray

That in this beautiful space, the river of your love, we might realise

That everything becomes real in you, Lord of history.

Make us also realise that this miracle of transformation,

Of which core is our desire for unity, cannot take place

Without others, without our fellow human beings being

Put to the centre of our lives. Amen.




2014. szeptember 14., vasárnap

A Prayer in your Presence

The very sad news that jihadists beheaded their British hostage, David Haines, prompts our response, in terms of prayer. The words of the Psalmist came to mind from today's Morning Prayer. "The Lord watches over the stranger in the land; he upholds the orphan and widow; but the way of the wicked he turns upside down." (Psalm 146,9) Putting aside the political interests of the sides in this already global 'Third World War', we can focus on the objective wound which has opened up with this killing. Indeed, there is an objective damage caused in History. This killing is remembered in Salvation History. It is Salvation-History, precisely on the ground, that God does not let injustice done by humans to humans pass. From a global perspective, and this is part of restoring our sense of history, we are called to mourn David. The wound emerged in his loss, is not an empty space. It is not a passing empty hole in time and space. If we have a closer look at his passing away from among us, we can see the emergence of the Angel of History in the very gate of the killing. He is wearing a red robe and is erect about the scene. The Lord watches over the killers. They are under judgement not by humans, but the Lord himself. The way of the wicked indeed has been turned upside down. Divine judgement has already found the killers already.
We are also given another presence. In the disquieting shadow that the Angel projects, we are hearing the words of the Psalm, uttered and prayed by the Spirit of Salvation History. "Who gives justice to those that suffer wrong and bread to those who hunger. The Lord looses those that are bound; The Lord opens the eyes of the blind." (Psalm146, 6-7) This is a judgement upon us, survivors. A chance for healing.


O, God, remember the pain of the family of David Haines.
Awake us from our manifold blindness
and restore the sense in us that we belong to your Salvation History
where no injustice remains invisible and forgotten. O, God, our
Lost Father, as part of our return to your house of love,
make us partakers of your of peacemaking in the world.
Send us, first, to the sources from which Peace may spring from,
then to our world, which cannot see from the tremendous thirst
it has become. Amen.


2014. szeptember 11., csütörtök

On Psalms 113,115 ­- Praying with the Books of Common Prayer and Common Worship (Psalm-meditations)

"From the rising of the sun to its setting / let the name of the Lord be praised." (Psalm 113,3). Psalms 113 and 115 are allocated as today's prayers for the Morning Prayer. Psalms are like an iconistasis, a wall of icons in the Church. They are icons of our own history. Praying the Psalms offers a unique opportunity to contemplate the depth of history in which we live. They offer an insight into history's complex life; into our own interconnected lives.
Following the news of world- and local politics, it seems, they fixate us in a constant flux. The iconostasis of history, which we are privileged to contemplate through the Christian prayer, has a profound effect upon us. It restores our sense of history. We become capable of seeing unity into an otherwise dangerously fragmented realm. And this is a vital faculty in our mediatised, computerised "e-age". In The Times Henry Kissinger said that the problem with today's politicians is that they have lost the sense of history. Together with their world they respond to what happens on the web. The ageing politician insinuates that leaders and peoples have become too internet-dependent. They are captive of emotional responses. Indeed, in the lack of a proper distance from history (the present) there is no proper engagement with this nervous medium. Arriving back to our Psalm-icons, without a "third eye", there is no proper analysis. We can see the consequences of developing its synonim, genuine historical responsibility. When we are responsible for the depth of our analysis, gestures and words.
Psalms 115 and 116 are governed by one single theme, which underlies their words. Peace. "From the rising of the sun to its setting / let the name of the Lord be praised." (Psalm 113,3). This line is of prophetic value. This line is a judgement upon us today. When I pray, I can hear a voice inside, which the historical Psalmist, the Spirit of God shares with us. Look! There is no peace in your world! "From the  rising of the sun to its setting" we are called to face this lack. The archetype, the Source of this Peace, which could smooth the entangled ways of peoples and nations in their Laoconic wrestling, is there, however. It is always among us told in this equally prophetic line: "The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens" (Psalm113,4.) Indeed, we can call it a prophetic statement as we should no longer taken for granted the meaning of "God". Neither in the Roman Catholic Church, nor in the Church of England. God, to whom our doctrines and liturgies point, so to say, are "beyond" our Psalms. We have to re-learn to contemplate this source of Peace. "Who is like the Lord our God that has his throne so high, yet humbles himself to behold the things of heaven and earth?" (Psalm 113,5).
The closing Prayer of the Psalm in Common Worship is wise. It brings to completion our meditation. It illustrates what the "depth" of meditation, to which we are called to arrive at, means. Acquiring the sense of history in our "e-age" is most of all letting God's peace be manifested as compassionate seeing of the world. "From the rising of the sun to its setting we praise your name, O Lord; may your promise to raise the poor from the dust and turn the fortunes of the needy upside down be fulfilled in our time also, as it was in your On, Jesus Christ our Lord."
Psalm 115, the second part of the Morning Prayer, does not leave a rest for us. Now, with this call to see through the depth of compassion, the question is repeated. "Why should the nations say, 'Where is now their God'? Where is the Peace now to which we are called?"
I am leaving myself and you with this single, I believe, guiding question, on the threshold of the referendum on Scottish independence. There is a lot to contemplate in ourselves, till our motives in acting at this particular part of history become clear, and till we perceive fuller what the taken for granted words, "the Peace of God", mean.


2014. május 20., kedd

In Mixed Lands / For a backround of Psalms 102-103

Norman Adams, The Golden Crucifixion (1993)
I have not yet decided in which language to stay. Living abroad, option one is to lay myself down day by day into a language which makes me handicapped compared with what and how I can express in my native language. I am about to stay and speak and work in this second language. I am well aware of, with years of experience that I have, that living abroad can be painful and at stages is indeed painful. I do not know, will have to ask my friends who spent a lifetime here, if the originating centre of our consciousness can ever be forgotten. For someone like me whose primary medium of expression is language, it seems difficult. My instrument is language. That language, which like a faithful sea with its energy and riches, gives a continuous support to be interested in naming the new shores of my life. Language − Hungarian − prompts me to think and order the complex experiences of this world of constant expansion.
Tens of thousands have left Hungary and came to work in the United Kingdom. Sooner or later they will undergo the same initial birth-pangs of being born, however temporarily, into a new language. You cannot exist in your old identity here. It must undergo an expansion, a fermentation.
It would be interesting to know and share: is it indeed happening to all of us here that the mother culture inside starts a strange 'dying' in us. What normally would remain hidden, here, without words, without any conscious deliberation, starts echoing. All the classics of literature, our national thinkers, past generations embracing the identity of being a 'magyar' (Hungarian) − start whispering like will-o'-the-wisp (lidércfények). And all this whispering is underneath the present. (In a sense, Bartok's homesickness was similar and different. He has chosen the state of exile as a protest against Nazism. Yet, there was a constant yearning for return. He died from an unquenchable desire to be reborn in the mother culture and language he left behind. His leukaemia manifested this underlying pain of being cut off so dramatically from the centres from which his music developed from and wished to serve.)
I have been thinking a lot about this experience of becoming decentred. This experience is hardly named. Sporadically, I follow the programmes of the Hungarian Cultural Centre (Balassi Institute, London). They offer excellent events where the continuity with the mother culture can be cultivated. Yet, this new type of silence, the 'migrant's passion', even there remains unnamed.
It would be worth to develop a culture of sharing this specific experience. Being magyars in a global world − how does it feel? This is a specific knowledge. Not only of ourselves, not only of the host culture which offers hospitality. But first of all, this, potentially, is a very specific self-knowledge of us, as Hungary. There are two options. We came here, work here, earn money, passively, suffering all the pains of an economic migrant. At the end of which journey one usually returns to his or her country. I firmly believe that there is a second option. When identity is actively developed, and the old and the new identities, are integrated. This can be a time of cultural creation and of moral growth. When the consciousness of the migrant becomes an active cell of one's nation's cultural memory. Yes, it is possible, to become a specific, almost autonomous local culture, which can contribute to a redefinition of what a 'nation' is. Still we do knot know what this new voice can and will say. All I sense is, at the moment, that this identity should not be a passive one, which is either the victim of the pain of nostalgic yearning for 'home' or a submission to the economic coercions. Economic migrants will never attain the dignity of a 'free citizen'.
Thinking about what it means to be a Hungarian − surely will differ from the routinely reflections with which we are familiar at home. Perhaps, this is my expectation, the cultural canon may come alive an a new way. Perhaps, if I start writing this London Diary again, I will have to explore this positive direction.
Without this positive rethinking of one's identity, I fear that one can only be locked in a permanent mourning. Which is, a natural reaction of the psyche. I myself has been making attempts to overcome this wounding nostalgia. Pain must be named; think of the unredeemed pain of the exiled Kelemen Mikes of Zagon from Turkey. This pain is not a shame, it is a state, and also, a lack of a supportive fellowship who share your local experience of 'exile'. However, this pain (let us call it the pain of Bartok) is the very ground upon which a new reflective culture can be erected. There must be a point when pain does not speak any longer - but a joyful solidarity and renewed openness to existence. Of which significant fruit is the renewed openness to the 'sending culture' and all its dying forms (in us, at home, and here).
In the Book of Common Prayer, for the 20th day of the month Psalms 102 Domine, Exaudi and 103, Benedic, anima mea, are thematically arranged. They perfectly express the dynamic of 'mourning' of old, and being reborn in a new identity. This is a powerful honesty which describes both states. 'Hear my prayer, O Lord: and let my crying come onto thee. Hide not your face from me in the time of my trouble.' This is the story of our migrant self, the story of our exile. A beautiful world of pain, which, has produced many 'Hungarian divines', wounded thinkers of outstanding quality from Ady and Márai (ongoing line).
However, the world of Psalm 103, is our redemptive, cultural archetype. 'Praise the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me praise his holy name...Look how high the heaven is in comparison of the earth: so great is his mercy also toward them that fear him. Look how wide also the east from the west: so far hath he set our sins from us.' Without this ascension to renewal there is no cultural creation. There is no home-coming. The Psalms, with their deep humanism, are indeed a guidance for our cultural condition − for that of our split and splitting presence. Psalm 103 confirms four us that, indeed, there is a 'new earth and new heaven', when our mother culture, through and in our fragile present, is being reborn.
It is also archetypal how Pilinszky lived the birth-pangs and passion of being a migrant of today. As if he was thinking in advance, anticipating, the wounds and missions of our postmodern fragmentation. His poetry − again an existential metaphor − is like Ikaros, staggering undecidedly between the worlds of psalms 102 and 103. A painful equilibrium, indeed. It is the task our generation to redeem his experience of exile expressed in the poem, On a Forbidden Star.

On a Forbidden Star

I was born on a forbidden star. From there
driven ashore, I trudge along the sand.
The surf of celestial nothingness takes me up,
and plays with me, then casts me on the land.

Why I repent I do not even know.
It is a puzzle buzzing in my ear.
If any of you should find me on this beach,
this sunken beach, don't run away, stay here.

And don't be scared. Don't run away. Just try
to mitigate the suffering in my life.
Shut your eyes and press me to yourself.
Press me boldly, as you would a knife.

Be reckless too: look on me as the dead
look on the night, seeing it s their own,
your shoulder there to aid my weaker one.
I can no longer bear to be alone.

I never wanted to be born. It was nothingness
Who bore and suckled me; with her I started.
So love me darkly. Love me cruelly. Love me
like the one left behind by the departed.

Translated from Hungarian by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri (In: Janos Pilinszky: Passio, Worple Press 2011)

Tilos csillag

Én tiltott csillagon születtem,
a partra űzve ballagok,
az égi semmi habja elkap,
játszik velem és visszadob.

Nem is tudom, miért vezeklek?
Itt minden szisszenő talány,
ne fusson el, ki lenn a parton,
e süppedt parton rámtalál.

S ne félj te sem, ne fuss előlem,
inkább csittítsd a szenvedést,
csukott szemmel szoríts magadhoz,
szorits merészen, mint a kést.

Légy vakmerő, itélj tiédnek,
mint holtak lenn az éjszakát,
vállad segítse gyenge vállam,
magam már nem birom tovább!

Én nem kivántam megszületni,
a semmi szült és szoptatott,
szeress sötéten és kegyetlen,
mint halottját az itthagyott.

20.19.2014, London, South Kensington.

2014. május 19., hétfő

On Pilinszky's Poetic Attention

Churchill-house (Chartwell, United Kingdom, f: bbeckett)
The world of the Psalmist is an intriguing one. Suspended between his life, which is in need of healing, and the desired state of recovery, the Psalmist becomes a migrant of prayer. His language can never be 'normal' again, ruled by the norms of this world's observation. The language of the Psalm is one that is always requesting a liberation from the calamities of the present, or it is always in the state of praise and thanksgiving. Here, or there, unredeemed or fully redeemed - but never in a blind state again. (I have been reading the Psalms these days, this time from the Book of Common Prayer, in the old language. Just to explain my opening metaphor, 'the Psalmist'.)
However, the spirituality of the Psalmist is much more about than being a pious wanderer journeying between his world and that of God. The spirituality of the psalms is the school of attention. The spiritual space, as if an aura, surrounds the Psalmist. Indeed, the 'person in prayer' who wrote the Psalms is a master of intense attention. There is no other explanation that the words of these ancient prayers have become so valid. And what is the scope of this masterly attention? It is cosmic. It embraces everything what can be observed in the encounter between the human and the divine worlds. What our world can learn from the Psalmist (and from  his God who sustains their conversation) is the quality-attention paid to all what surrounds us within and without. For it is this passionate embrace and gentile touches through which the world will feel it again that it belongs to someone.
And this 'belonging' is the key in understanding that the 'secular world', from the religious point of view, should never be used in terms of a negative value judgement. With the Psalmist, if we genuinely enter his spirituality, the 'secular' is never a 'godless' state. Not only for the reason being that first we, the 'religious', have abandoned God and it is we who have created this vacuum. Sadly, 'religion' tends to put the blame on the 'secular' environment. Instead of a 'secular world', with the Psalmist, it is better to speak of a world abandoned by our attention first.
Janos Pilinszky's short essays are master classes of this type of intention. These days of the Easter season, side by side with the Psalms, I am reading his short prosaic writings. I am dwelling particularly on the short essays written in the 1950s in Communist Hungary. He published them in the Catholic weekly, Új Ember. This journal offered Pilinszky an intellectual and spiritual refuge when he was silenced in the years following the 1956 Revolution. One can see Pilinszky as a late victim of the 'Zdhanov doctrine', which silenced the 'decadent' music of Bartok just a few years earlier. This mutilated aesthetics (hijacked by totalitarian politics) condemned all forms of 'bourgeois' art which were not praising the 'harmonious' achievements of the Communist regime − in a language easily accessible to the people. This type of 'outdated' art was pigeonholed as 'formalist' and condemned ideologically as dangerous. It was accused of abandoning the glorious Revolution.
In fact, the apocalyptic attention which Pilinszky's poetry exhibits was all but a servile idealisation of the Communist present. First, for Pilinszky the body of history exists in a continuity which is governed by inertia since the Fall. Its wounds are neither old, nor new since losing Paradise. For Pilinszky, there is only one proper way of approaching to this wounded history, through a universal and unconditional compassion. The categorical imperative of this poetry is to observe the smallest fragments in this apocalyptic landscape, remembering the painful memories of the victims. In this poetic anamnesis, the world exists either in an apocalyptic captivity − or comes alive, potentially, in love. In Pilinszky, the most this world can achieve is not a spectacular renewal but a precious inner purification. This revolution is an arrival to the threshold of hope for Resurrection. For this poetry, and this is its substance, the language of responding to the unconditional embrace by God needs to be re-learnt. Poetry and life reflected upon is our long purgatory.
Reading Pilinszky goes not simply against the taste of our age. The intensity of this poetic attention is a judgement on culture's superficiality which refuses entering our truer selves. Though his essays and poems will never ever be consumable for consumerist cultures, our postmodern present, if it makes the effort, can have access into Pilinszky's purifying world. When he examines and revaluates the facts of our abandoned history (abandoned by human care, abandoned by us!) he detects an all penetrating goodness beyond the limits of our perception. As if a cosmic radiation of an un-faced Beauty would slip through the matter of our existence. Tiny dots and sparkles of this unseen splendour break free from the beyond. The world is under judgement, it is true, in this poetry. This judgement, if the human eye surrenders to it, is experienced as mercy. This invisible light, however week it may be − it is only on the surface that Pilinszky's poetry reads pessimist −, is gathering among us and waiting for its 'weight' to have been full regained. This is the same tone of warmness that Bartok's Concerto radiates (from 1943, also written in exile, in the United States).
The poem Van Gogh's Prayer shows this light, patiently gathering at, and washing humbly, our thresholds. For me, this poem is a perfect illustration of what this type of poetic attentiveness is capable of observing. The unsurpassable attention of this apocalyptic Psalmist penetrates, literally, into the unreachable. This untameable poetry invites the invisible Angel of History to come among us stepping over the (invisible) thresholds of our exit-less postmodern present.   

Van Gogh's Prayer

A battle lost in the cornfields
and in the sky a victory.
Birds, the sun and birds again.
By night, what will be left of me?

By night, only a row of lamps,
a wall of yellow clay that shines,
and down the garden, through the trees,
like candles in a row, the panes;

there I dwelt once and dwell no longer −
I can't live where I once lived, through
the roof there used to cover me.
Lord, you covered me long ago.

Translated from Hungarian by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri (In: Janos Pilinszky: Passio, Worple Press 2011)

Van Gogh imája

Csatavesztés a földeken.
Honfoglalás a levegőben.
Madarak, nap és megint madarak.
Estére mi marad belőlem?

Estére csak a lámpasor,
a sárga vályogfal ragyog,
s a kert alól, a fákon át,
mint gyertyasor, az ablakok;

hol én is laktam, s nem lakom,
a ház, hol éltem, és nem élek,
a tető, amely betakart.
Istenem, betakartál régen.

19.05.2014 London

2014. május 12., hétfő

Thoughts on history / Gondolatok a történelemről

Dialógus (foto: Balintbeckett)
A párbeszédek fontosak az életünkben. Személy és személy között. Ember és Isten (avagy jobbik énünk) között. Ám felnőttségünk valódi jele, amikor felismerjük egy "harmadik" párbeszéd megjelenését. Ez a párbeszed lelkünk és a történelem között. Valójában értelmünk és a külső történelem közötti, őszinte beszélgetés ez. Belül történik, hangosan kiejtett szavak nélkül: belső reflexióban. Ezért a "lélek" beszél, értelmünk figyelmes megszólalása.
S muszáj belépnünk ebbe a belső tengerbe.  Egyszerűen nincs más lehetőségünk: hisz a magunk mögött hagyott út terhével, mint a Nagytörténelem bennünk nehezedő súlyával, szembe kell néznünk. Felnőtté válásunk elkerülhetetlen.

This is just like becoming a reflective eye between two languages. Living abroad and writing in both languages, in English and in Hungarian, is not a mere switching between the two. This is not like existing and using one language at one time, and using the other at another. It is much more like the aforementioned dialogue between the self and History.

My impression is that being an observer of both cultures, of what is left behind and that of the new acquired one in which personal existence at present unfolds, is itself that situation which makes this historical dialogue  necessary.

Usually, living only in one single language does not create this sense of being in a permanent Exodus. A "nemzeti nyelv", a nemzeti kultúra kizáróagos dominanciája, talán eleve predestináló oka is, hogy eleddig érzéketlenek voltunk a zsidóság történelmi tapasztalatára. Nevezetesen, hogy elönt bennünket, teljes súlyával, hőmérséklet- és állagváltozásával a történelem tengere. Ez a különös médium. However, now, when our pluralistic world is expanding into thousand - and less and less controllable - new directions, this sense of Exodus becomes the core of our existence. First, we sense this new world as something like a border. In the beginning it is a borderline phenomenon. In the outskirts of our observation. Then, slowly, this periphery grows into our very centre. And then, the "two languages", a két nyelv, merge. Egyesül. And this throws us onto the shores of this new existence.

Évekkel ezelőtt csak látogató voltam Angliában. Londonban. Semmi sem változott. Hazulról, a nemzeti kultúrából és nyelvből jöttem, s időről-időre ebbe az emlékezetbe tértem vissza. Abba a kollektív tudatba, mely önhivatkozó. Egyetlen viszonyítási pontja önmaga. S mely nemzeti kultúra határvédői, kerubokként, a magyar-angol és angol-magyar szótárak. Zárt szárnyú angyalok.

Belépni a Történelem (mint második anyanyelv?) és énünk közötti dialógusba, új felelősségbe helyez. Hiperérzékenyít a Nagytörténet iránti felelősségre. Indeed, it sensitises us for a much wider self-reflection. Hirtelen látni kezdjük mennyire a Nagytörténet részei vagyunk. Hogy, például (ma Pimlico-beli sietésem a St. Gabriel's be szülte gondolat), vajon megfordul-e fejünkben, személyes konfliktusaink közepette: a hirtelen nézeteltérések, a két ember között megemelt szó, vagy családi vita nem csupán egyéni seb. Hanem olyen felszínre bukó krízis, melynek kiváltója a Nagytörténet dagadó passiója. Sebeinkbe, személyességeinke tapadva.

That is why it is vital to undertake this conversation. Becoming fully human entails taking responsibility for these wounds. For the burdens and unresolved conflicts, often marginalised by us as careless bystanders. We need to become translators between our and 'his' wounds; or 'her' wounds. Who knows, perhaps this role of the translator, the facilitator of the Dialogue - makes God solely visible. Our taking responsibility for the wounds which we cause to the 'Nagytörténet' or History, in the end, exclusively, makes visible God's wounds. It seems that outside the dialogue between 'us' and the Angel of History, there is no perception of God. There is no visibility for Him/Her/(as bleeding) History whatsoever. If there is no attentive and responsible eye opened up in us onto the grand-narrative of history: there is no perception of salvation. We ourselves remain invisible to ourselves. Then, only blind 'English', 'Germans', 'Hungarians' and 'French' (etc,) will write their own stories obsessively and will see only themselves, narcissistically.

A zsoltárok világa ezért új szótáram és Bibliám. Exodusben született szem a zsoltárosé. Aki szüntelen képes két világ határán élni. Két világa határán. Nem két külön világén, hanem két világa (kinn és benn) határán, s ezért egyszerre közepén mintként történetnek. S amikor sikerül teljesen szolidárissá és eggyé válnunk emberi és emberen kívüli (s ebben az értelemben is isteni) világunkkal - nos, ez az a bizonyos "új ég és új föld" ami teremtetik. Csakis ebben a médiumban gondolkodva tudunk kinyílni egy olyan egyetemes szolidaritásba, melyből világunk sebének bekötözése megtörtéhet. Csakis zsoltárosként, a két világot beszélve, válthatjuk meg világunkat; avagy nyílhatunk meg a megváltásnak.

Usually, an emigrant is defined by the loss of their mother culture and language. One becomes a migrant or a refugee by an external necessity. Uprootedness is taking place owing to political, economical or cultural conflicts. The dialogue between the self and History is not taking place. Sadly, this seems to be our general (self-generated) destiny and condition. There is no other dialogue but that of the wounded migrants. 'Me' or 'us' with our wounds (or pleasures). My hope is to stay connected with what is left behind. This is the Psalmist's hope. My desire is to rebuild the unbuilt bridges of reflexivity. My hope is to become responsible for personal and collective pasts. Thus, through this Dialogue, I hope, this is my conviction with the Psalmist, we can continue a dialogue with our rejuvenated Present. When the unsung songs of history, the unsung Psalms, will be sung again. And I just wonder how it feels like being a Hungarian in this Psalmody. How does it feel being a European?

Also, it seems, that the question is not if there is a God or not. Statements on the existence of the deity are questions raised outside our non-existent Dialogue. The question of God (in the old sense) is almost secondary. The core problem, which should not leave rest for us, is as to whether we have the conversation between our true self and History, or not. In other words, is there a border (a penetrable one) between Exodus and our present history? Are we translating the wounds of History into our lifegiving hopes or the reverse is taking place?


2014. április 15., kedd

The heart and the city

When we read and pray the Psalms, there is a special connection established between our  heart and "the city of God". This Lenten season is an opportunity to breath in this collective support which lies behind the human heart.

The human heart is never alone. There is a collective life present, to which the individual soul is attached. "Conversion" is rooted in this greater or wider life. We share the joys and pains, past and present, even future ones, of this historical community.

Perhaps, in our postmodern fragmented life, when personal relationships are weakened, this is our most important resource. There is an inerasable sense of the community in us, literally in us: beyond us. Waiting for us. Emerging through us. Rejoycing through us. Hoping through us.

Outside the world of Psalms, one can never understand the spirit of conversion to which the Lenten season invites us. This week, which is called Passion week, the scenes of Jesus's Passion-drama, with a particular force draw us into this collective dimension of conversion. Jesus prayed these ancient prayers. He has marked them and enhanced their meaning through using them. Just as we (subsequent generations) add the life of our age to their already rich collective meaning.

Collective salvation history, the particular human heart, and Jesus's life are connected and inter-related. Jesus's life is the Christ's life. The Master's life is not only a personal life, so to say. Jesus's personal passion story (today think of his betrayal by Judas Ischariot during the last supper) has a collective meaning. His life is summing up the whole of salvation history. This individual and indeed redemptive suffering (love) is rooted in the collective breathing of human history which we have just contemplated in the Psalms.


2014. április 9., szerda

Waves of the Psalms

The Book of Common Prayer (1662) offers a continuous reading of the Psalms. Compared with the Catholic tradition of daily prayer, this non-thematic arrangement is unusual. There are no spiritual themes which would organise the sequence of their readings. There is only the option of entering this deep sea and face its waves as they come. Our self is washed and shaped by these 'external' forces. And there is some humility in this way of reading the Psaltery: its themes come upon us. Our heart has only one choice: to open up to their content, and to be lead by this Narrator of our souls.
One recurring theme, which strikes me, is the pains of the heart. Psalms often show the praying person in birth-pangs of the soul, so to say. There is always something rigid, something stiff, something resistant, comes to the surface. Are these individual pains? Or, do they point beyond their particularity to something collective in us, shared by all?
Today, the following thought occurs to me. The 'hindrances' in the psalmist's life, at the same time, are also collective anxieties and questions. In them, when we pray individually, the inertia of collective history reveals itself. What is in my heart, as a prayer, is also history's effort to bring into the conscious, what is unnamed. What has been unnamed, unspoken, not only to history itself, but what is still 'unpronounced' by us. When we pray the Psalms: our history is being transformed. Into what? Into a 'speaking being', which is increasingly capable of telling his story: deeply hidden in God; and deeply hidden in himself.
One more thought. This walking into the waves of the continuous sequence of Psalms, also has to do something with our personal lives, the interactions which we perform with those with whom we live or work. Personal love − its joys and failures − makes visible that collective ground of our self, which the waves of the Psaltery uncover. The personal, the collective, and the interpersonal, after a while, all live together in this life-giving Sea.


2014. április 8., kedd

A sacred journey


I am just getting familiar with the Book of Common Prayer. Old English. Besides the archaism of the language, there is another level of the sense of 'history'. As if all cultures, instinctively, had the sense that they have to 'build' a sacred language. As if a culture, instinctively or deliberately, had the rational knowledge, those human experiences, desires, religious hopes, with all the passions that a culture went through in the past and can go through in the future, which must be preserved in the form of prayer. Which body of sacred prayers will forever remain 'detached' from the turmoil and experiences of the forthcoming ages. Which is why, this language anchored in the past, constitutes a 'sacred heritage'. A sacred memory.

Religion, when offers these ancient 'historical' forms of prayer, does a crucial service to culture. Through these prayers, the inhabitants of our culture make a powerful attempt to return to that 'sacred memory' from which 'distance' our present consciousness can be purified. Thus, prayer is an attempt to renew our consciousness, individual and collective. We need this distance from our presence.

When 'journeying' in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, I have the sense of walking together with previous generations of faith and history. The footsteps of those dead and alive (through this journey all of us are resurrected!) can be heard. History becomes real. This is a wonderful experience: our culture can speak a common language. We are in a journey − Exodus − towards our truer self...  Towards a shared vantage point from which not only our present can be judged better and seen more clearly, but also where we find the genuine source of renewal. I would almost say, that of our Resurrection.


08.04. 2014