Even before they call I will answer . . .
Ask, and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
The end-time does not come at the end of time. The end-time is now, just as it always has been and always will be.
Our role is to enjoy it, as it carries us on its ever-rolling wave.
The prayer for deliverance is already granted even before it is prayed. Indeed, only because deliverance has already been granted, are our lips opened to pray for it. As Augustine taught, we would not seek God unless God had already found us. The very search for the divine is proof that the divine has already revealed itself to us.
To ask, to beg, to request--if it is genuine, and not a mask for mere demanding, like spoiled children--is to open ourselves to receive. When we do that purely, without any admixture of expectation concerning what answer we will receive to our question, we open ourselves to receive the revelation that our request has already been granted, even before we made it. Only now, by truly asking, we have been granted the additional gift of being able to see the answer we've always already been given, and to accept it.
Then we are surprised to find as well that without out ever asking for it, we've also been given the gift of gratitude. All we then have left to do is to take up the gifts that have been showered upon us and, accepting the gift of gratitude among the rest, to revel in them all.
After all, that is how one expresses gratitude.
* * *
Deliver us, oh Lord, from our bondage as streams in dry land. Those who are sowing in tears will sing when they reap.
They go out, they go out, full of tears, carrying seed for the sowing; they come back, they come back, full of song, carrying their sheaves.
The going out and the coming back are one and the same, as are the sowing and the reaping, the tears and the sheaves. What is promised is not something yet to come, but something already long ago arrived, waiting only for us to gather it up.
Prisoners held captive in solitary cells in penitentiaries do not need to wait for the cell doors eventually to be opened for their release to be granted them. The doors stand open already; all the prisoners have to do is to see that they are open, and to go freely through them.
Who will deliver the bound from their bondage? The one who lets them see that their chains have already fallen away.
Who will unlock the cells of the imprisoned? Whoever lets them hear the echo of the key that has always already unlocked them all.
There must be fifty ways to leave your prison: Just walk out the door, and set yourself free. You say you believe in the power of prayer? Well, why don't you act like it, then? Having prayed for deliverance, gladly accept that your prayer has been granted. Indeed, your prayer was already granted even before you prayed it. Just let yourself know it, and walk out the door.
My God is a God of nooks and crannies, Interstitial, fond of gaps and lapses, Loving spareness.
God haunts burned out churches And climbs dead trees, To see the desolation.
Life is there.
* * *
In June 1957, for reasons yet to be determined, all the state's Negro inhabitants departed. Today, it is unique in being the only state in the Union that cannot count even one member of the Negro race among its citizens.
--William Melvin Kelly
There were arrows, so we followed them.
The door to deliverance is always open. We only await the opening of our own eyes to see that it is so. Then we just need to go through the open door, into freedom.
Jimmy Santiago Baca, alone in his solitary confinement cell in the Arizona State Penitentiary at Yuma, suddenly saw that the door to freedom lay open before him. He did not have to wait for his jailers to unlock it; he just had to pass through. So he did, and set himself free. Since then, he has continued to bear witness to and for all others who remain imprisoned as he had once been, and who have not yet been given the eyes to see the door that already lies open before them, as he was once given to see it.*
Kevin Cooper, in his death-row cell at San Quentin California State Penitentiary found the open door to his own freedom in books. The new Governor of California, as I write this at the beginning of April 2019, has just recently put Kevin's execution on hold by declaring a moratorium on the state's enactment of death sentences. Long before that, however, and regardless of whether the authorities of the sovereign state of California eventually kill him or exonerate him of the false charges on which he was convicted by the judicial apparatus of the same state, Kevin long ago already walked out of prison. He just picked up his books, and set himself free.**
William Melvin Kelly's first novel, A Different Drummer, was first published in 1962. Shortly after his second novel was published three years later, Kelly left with his wife and their daughter to move from his native New York to Paris, exercising is own freedom and bearing his own witness.
Kelly's lines cited above are from a fictional source of his creation: "The Thumb-Nail Almanac, 1961," about a fictional state between Mississippi and Alabama, from which in 1957 all the black residents suddenly leave.*** Their departure is triggered by the sudden and utterly unexpected deed of one of their number--a black farmer aptly named Tucker Caliban.
In the novel, Tucker Caliban one day salts his land, shoots his horse and cow, sets his house afire, and leaves the state with his pregnant wife and their infant child. Kelly himself would soon enough follow, as it were, his own fictional creation by leaving not only the state of New York but also the entire United States of America.
Fictional characters and real ones alike--Tucker Caliban, all the other blacks in Kelly's fictionalized state, and finally Kelly and his own family themselves--are all at some moment given the eyes to see that the door to leave stands open before them. One by one all then go through that open door, and set themselves free.
* * *
[I]nseperable from a sense of kairos is a conviction of vocation, of a providential role to play in the world of our time.
Anyone, anyone can break loose from his chains. That courage, no matter how deeply buried, is always waiting to called out. All it needs is the right coaxing, the right voice to do that coaxing, and it will come roaring like a tiger.
The door has always been open. It is now. It always will be. May we all be given to see it, then to pass through and set ourselves free, following the signs left by all the others who have gone before us, to show us the way!
*See my earlier post concerning Jimmy Santiago Baca's story at https://www.traumaandphilosophy.com/blog-1/2019/1/14/the-power-of-non-compliance.
**My earlier post concerning Kevin's story may be found at https://www.traumaandphilosophy.com/blog-1/2018/11/26/liberating-imprisonment.
***The quotation from Kathryn Schultz is from her foreword to the new 2018 imprint of Kelly's novel (Great Britain: riverrun).