Alpha and Omega

My neighbor does not believe in a life after death - but he cherishes an active veneration for his favorite saint. And in a newspaper, someone stated: 'I do not believe in a god - but I am sure there is a connection of things'

Alpha and Omega

We clearly live in a mixture of two spheres of life, two worlds which are far apart – yet still crossing each other’s boundaries time and again. How society is permeated by that diptych has something to do with the so-called Holy Scriptures, mainly the Bible – at least in the West. Not particularly the book itself – most people never actually see it up close – but nonetheless language, education, culture, literature, art, almost all layers of daily life are peppered with biblical influences and expressions, even quiz items in the media.

Most of the official public celebration days have their origins there too, although the significance and purpose of those high-days has been partially shifted to the background by the ever-increasing secularisation. The days are still on the calendar, but to many people Easter and Pentecost mean little more than an extended weekend and Ascension refers to holiday resorts more than to heavenly destinations.

On the other hand, remarkably enough, the Christmas celebration continues to exist; although richly provided with culinary elements, but still carried by a considerable group in which more lofty aspects have retained their place. Literature, drama, movies, painting and especially music maintain the tradition, culture and devotion, in which metaphors have acquired a place of their own.

Man is a sentimental realist; the head wants the heart in the right place, the heart wants the seal of reason: facts, proofs, historical framework. At first glance this is not asking too much, but that´s just where the shoe pinches: the Bible text does not offer any framework; its alphabet just consists of the Alpha and the Omega. Perhaps this can generate a distant sound or image in a certain mental capacity – but not the words to interpret that awareness with chisel or pen.

Now we can deal with an abstraction more or less, but in the end, we want something in our hands, something tangible; chisel and stone, pen and paper. But it´s not that simple.

Writers try to express events and ideas in words, and then translators convert them into other languages and forms, thus adding a grey zone of opinions and interpretations, tinted by their personal or dogmatic touches.

And if we may believe the luxuriant amount of literature, a lot of reservations about this subject can be made.

This is not about some kitchen recipe but about thought patterns and tendencies that determine the direction of cultures and civilizations. Because the ‘Word’ has become flesh. And just as everything that presents itself in the world of matter is promptly given its opposite, this unique moment is not spared either; it was even announced as ‘a sign of contradiction’. The Word, nebulized in a multitude of words – each and every word an object of dispute. With the Bible in hand, you can prove or refute everything, reject everything or justify it. A gift of salvation, forged into a weapon.

But the Word is more than a combination of signs to express an understanding or sound. They are just the carriers, the channels for the idea of salvation that fulfils the universe and eternally slumbers in human hearts, waiting for a mind that can clarify word and reply until eventually only the Alpha-Omega remains; the Joyful Message which does not manifest itself only one time or one place, but is realised here and now – in you and me.

Veiled references to inner processes are found in fairy tales and writings of all times. For example the Bhagavad Gita in which the hero finds himself placed on the battlefield opposite his own friends and relatives and then is urged by Krishna (the Mind) undertake the battle. Seemingly absurd, unreal conditions that nevertheless may awaken something in us.

Beyond reason and forms, not simply to be understood in formulas such as ‘heart and head’. Every aspect of that complex being ‘human’ is involved in the process; in every room of the house that is called the ‘I’, we can meet the Unnameable.

This is the true Bible, the life-book, the living book that keeps writing and rewriting new pages. Where every word includes the One Word, separate from form and sign; on stone and paper where necessary, in light and strength unassailably anchored in the atmosphere as an eternally inspiring Presence. Possibly as a vague relic somewhere in a forgotten place in our house; perhaps as the ‘Pearl of Great Price’ in our hearts.

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Date: February 3, 2019
Author: Emiel Vanhuyse (Belgium)
Photo: Ruth Alice Kosnick

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