Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wrestling with an Angel

This passage really spoke to me this evening. Sitting on my backporch, enjoying the sun just catching the tops of the trees as it sets, with only the occasional snores of the poodle disturbing the silence.

"You are nourished by real experience far more than by the most precious words from the Bible and other devotional literature. Sitting in devotional silence seems hard. On occasion, silent waiting is like wrestling with an angel (as Jacob did), to wrest a blessing from the angel (not from a book!). On some days, the angel seems to be wrestling something from you: that something is a recognistion and acceptance by you of your own inner beauty and strength.

All the beautiful psalms and other heavenly verses came from a source of inspiration. When we insist on waiting on that Source for oursleves, until we "meet" it, then, at such time, what we feel and say and do comes freshly from that Source. By such first-hand experience, we understand how those heavenly verses came to be written. When we prepare to read them next time, we sit by the Source and understand them better than before."

passage from "A Little Journal of Devotions out of Quaker Worship: An experiment with 104 entries across two thousand miles", by Francis D. Hole and Ellie Schacter. Both authors, I believe, were members of Madison Monthly Meeting. I knew Francis, but not Ellie....

5 comments:

Suzy said...

Hardly a day goes by when I don't think of Frances.

That one sums up much of what Quakerism is all about.

Thanks, Chuck.

Suzy said...

Argh -- misspelled his name: Francis.
Are you familiar with this website?
http://www.soils.wisc.edu/~barak/fdh/index.html

When we were coming back from Rock Island, we stopped in Green Bay and went to a little amusement park there. Waiting in line for the bumper cars, I saw a woman wearing,yes! an Antigo Silt Loam t-shirt. I stalked her through the park, waiting for a chance when I could approach her and ask where she got it. Alas, she didn't know Francis, but she said it was her favorite t-shirt and she'd worn it all over the world.

poodledoc said...

I wish I'd gotten to know him better............

jbixleri said...

This passage reminds me of a poem I know that provides another metaphor for sitting in devotional silence. Not quite the same as wrestling with an angel, but some of the same sense of struggling and finding grace.

"Prayer is like watching for the
Kingfisher. All you can do is
Be where he is likely to appear; and
Wait.
Often, nothing much happens;
There is space, silence and
expectancy.
No visible sign, only the
Knowledge he's been there,
And may come again.
Seeing or not seeing cease to matter;
You have been prepared.
But sometimes, when you've almost
Stopped expecting it,
A flash of brighness
Gives encouragement.

By Ann Lewin, from "Women Pray," a collection of poems and prayers edited by Monica Furlong. Something I picked up at some FGC book table some time.

poodledoc said...

Thanks for the beautiful poem!