The Bible is not a book about God; it is a book about man. God’s dream is not to be alone, to have mankind as a partner in the drama of continuous creation. By whatever we do . . . we either advance or obstruct the drama of redemption; we either reduce or enhance the power of evil. - Abraham Joshua Heschel
If only we could see the air. The thick blanket that surrounds us all. There is no rift in it, no gap. It moves against the earth’s circumference, seeping even into subterranean caverns and stretching up against the cosmos. Its boundaries are traceable but porous - like an exercise in generosity. And without it not one human being would last more than seven more minutes. Seven. Maybe eight if you’re a practiced free diver. But that’s it.
We all live in this continuous blanket of second and third breaths, and it doesn’t belong to anyone. In fact, we belong to it.
How is it that the air affords us the space - the breath - to make judgment on another, to deem death for the other who shares the breath? How is it that we are given this much freedom?
What rich and stunning beings we must be to have the tragic luxury of capacity. If only we could see the precipice of our freedom.
Our sight is found wanting, indeed.
But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts.”
Is history made by the sword or by the name of the one that is unseen? In David’s story, it is God who shows his hand in the lines of human agency. And at every turn we have the freedom to align with the unseen name or to force the javelin. At least I know what the javelin looks like. The name is elusive - it’s nothing that I can hold. Like filling my lungs with air without expulsion, containing it is death to me. It’s only in the trust and the rhythm of the breath that life can emerge, grow, even flourish. The place of the taking in and letting go is where life dwells - the place that we can only experience by the posture of surrender. This is not the way of the javelin, it might be the way of the name.
The javelin is finite and inanimate. It shapes the terrain of fear, anger, hate, and violence. Like it or not, we are all slow to part with the javelin.
But there is another way. It is unseen, untouchable, and can only be experienced by the posture of surrender. It exists for nothing less than everything. And gives us the breath to participate one more time or not. This generous exercise in the luxury of capacity gives us the breath and the dignity of choice.