Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Waters of Mercy

Abraham Joshua Heschel, the Polish-born American rabbi, writes beautifully of the spiritual path that is the God-given potential of every person. 

In his book, The Insecurity of Freedom, he speaks of the act of prayer as - not so much a dialogue with the Eternal - but an immersion in the "waters of mercy".

It is certainly true that as our prayer deepens it grows in simplicity. We become less active, more still and receptive to the action of the Spirit of God.

This makes for hard going. We have an innate and strong desire to be in control, even of our relationship with God.  This growth in simplicity in prayer can mean letting go of particular ways of praying that have nourished our souls in the past.

The rabbi writes: "I am not ready to accept the ancient concept of prayer as a dialogue. Who are we to enter a dialogue with God!

The better metaphor would be to describe prayer as an act of immersion, comparable to the ancient Hebrew custom of immersing oneself completely in the waters as a way of self-purification to be done over and over again.

Immersion in the waters! One feels surrounded, touched by the waters, drowned in the waters of mercy."