Coded green.

Sunday 27 May 2001


Pic of the day: At this distance, you can barely even discern the church. But that's OK, because my God does not particularly live in houses built by human hands.

Abide with me

Disclaimer: Yes, this is another "Jesus and I" entry. I know some of you have suffered at the hands of christians and twitch at the very mention of that name. And most christians won't be too happy either, I am afraid. Sorry, please come back another day. My entries vary rather chaotically (what did you expect in a Chaos Node?) so take your pick from my monthly index page.


Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Henry F. Lyte, Eventide ("Abide with me").

I liked this song (or rather the Norwegian translation) well before I knew that it was a burial song. I am not at all sure it was meant to be that, even, but it is rather clearly written with the end of the life in mind. Then again, some of us have thought about the end of our life since we were children, much good it has done us.

Unless my memory horribly betrays me, we sung part of this hymn when we buried my mother's body this spring. It is quite a beautiful song for such occasions, but let me be bluntly honest: It is a bit on the late side then. It should preferably start a bit earlier, you know. If at all. I have lately given a bit of thought to the whole thing, as seen in my Thursday and Friday diaries.


Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord:
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

For some reason, some of us have a pretty strong experience of a mild divine presence. Some say they have a guardian angel, some think of it as the nearness of God or the Light, and other religions probably have other explanations of it. I know for sure that some Hindus have a very similar experience. For me, I retain the childish expression "Jesus in my heart" even though that is not quite literal. It is more like a telepathic connection.

OK, it is unlikely that anyone reading so far has also read the X-men comics a few years ago. But just in case, Cyclops and Phoenix used to have such a telepathic connection. I'd say it is quite a bit closer than the Warder bonds of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, but I guess this varies from person to person. As I've said, my Jesus will cheerfully give me advice on various everyday things, but I don't get to discuss scientific matters with him in any great detail. Yeah, I guess that would have been a bit creepy now that I think about it. Creepy but way cool.


Thou on my head in every youth didst smile;
and though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, o Lord, abide with me.

OK, the language in the English original (if original it is) is strange at the best of times (the New Norwegian rendition is far more singable and understandable) but here it unravels completely. Whoever copyed this to the Net must have been very very tired. I certainly can relate to the "perverse meanwhile" part though ... Uh, don't look at me like that please.

What I mean is that these days christianity is no longer a question of a hasty martyrdom but a common lifestyle. So it's kind of not just for saints any longer. This makes for all manner of strange cases, since the original christian scriptures seems to expect people to become saintly overnight. Lord knows St Paul must have been close to tearing his hair out, if he even had any left, over the mess his small churches presented him. Infighting and squabbles, loud confrontations over anything from meat to celebrating the new moon; people who thought there was not enough freedom, and others who thought there was too much. Basically the apostles had this message for the newbies: You're already saints, now please start to behave like it!

Jesus instructed his followers to forgive seventy times seven times, that would be 490 times per person. I hope the Lord himself is more generous than that.

Evidently the mystical experience of a connection with the Divine is not a guarantee of a particularly holy life. It does act as a reminder, but I can't honestly say that I am more saintly than those who have to walk in blind faith because to them it is never more than words in a book. I guess I'm pleased to see that this poor guy from 1600-something had the same experience. It's not just me. Oh well.


Come not in terror, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.

You know, sometimes I wish I could be like that too. Now that would really be something. I guess that was how it was meant to be. Those who know me when I was young will know how hard and judgemental I could be then, how arrogant and critical and demanding. I guess something has happened inside me after all. But is it really "Jesus in my heart" or is this just a way my soul organizes things? Jesus seems to say that the Kingdom of Heaven is inside everybody's heart, even the pharisees. So even if you don't have an "invisible friend", you could still have all this inside you. But for me, I need my "invisible friend" to abide with me, to connect to the invisible kingdom. I would not want it otherwise. Not now.

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