The Matchbook Diaries


Marriage of Heaven and Hell

William Blake in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell writes about this idea exactly.  His words have long sat in my heart until I was able to understand them. (If you like, see the entire text below.)

When I am in agony and dialoguing with God I remind myself, “I know you are here with me.  I know you are here..”  I say it over and over again until I remember that this statement is true.  The last time I said these words, God replied, “Yes, and you are normally not here.” The deepest horror is knowing that I choose, more than 90% of the time, to be apart from God, to exist, but not to live. I’m not living when I am out of God’s presence, I’m waiting or fighting or scheming or dying and I am doing all of these things whilst standing a breath away from God.  Heaven did indeed marry hell.  Heaven married hell so that I could choose either parent.

Every time I surrender to my fear, which quickly deliquesces into hate for myself and for others, I have taken a step sideways.  There is no spiritual condition nor any physical place required for me to access God.  All I have to do is show up in my own skin.  My prayer is, Make me willing to see what you are willing to see (that is, me, myself).  Make me willing to feel what you are willing to feel (that is, my pain and fear).  Make me willing to know what you are willing to know (that is, my actions and secrets).  Make me willing to touch what you are willing to touch (that is me, myself).

Insobriety is anything I do to step away from myself.  My principal drugs for years and years were food and caffeine.  But I have been sober from both for a long time by the grace of God.  There isn’t anything in itself that is immoral.  What is immoral is anything that I choose as a means to remove myself from my Creator, anything I use to deny the truth that I am beloved and forgiven.  I’m not addicted to any substance.  I’m addicted to hate because I am always afraid.  I use hate to numb my incessant fear and pain.

I always wind up acknowledging the truth: it’s just pain.  The more regularly I endure it, the more I see that pain has no power to compel me.   The only thing in the world that can control me is me.  God chooses not to control me.  Since only God is capable of controlling me, my oppressor is myself.

The call of every faith and even in Chinese philosophy is to love your neighbor and your enemy and to do unto them as you would have them do unto you.  This seems to be a weak choice.  If I am being trespassed, why should I love the trespasser?  That’s the secret – if I hate the trespasser I have bound myself to them in my rage, we are grappling in hell and the devil is delighted that it can use us to defile one another and drive ourselves deeper into hell without any demonic effort expended.

But if I shed my hate like a foul, dead skin, if I find it in myself to do this, and rather than return hate for hate, if I return blessing, then only one of us is in bondage, and it’s not me.  God is not asking me to let myself be raped, or to suffer fools, or to ignore my intellect and my skills.  God is asking me not to feed myself to the devil, which is what I do every single time I choose to lash out in my heart or directly.  It is not that the enemy needs my love, nor that I am capable of blessing my enemy.  It’s that I need love and I am capable of blessing myself by loving that which I hate.  The enemy is not somehow getting away with it when I pray for them.  Instead, by blessing my enemy I am getting away from the enemy.  It’s the only way I can.

When I push a person away, it’s a lot like how it would be if I were to do that in outer space.  My push would do nothing to move the object of my violence, but it would most certainly propel me away.  This is exactly what happens when I dwell on hate and fill my mind with judgement and schemes to attack.  Inside of the enemy is God, immutable, permanent, omnipotent.  No, it is me I move when I strike; I push myself away.

When I was helpless I got shoved, hard.  The trespasses I sustained at the hands of my mother, principally, and secondarily my father and his many wives, should have been TKO blows.  It is that trespass that I have to absorb if I choose to remain in the present, sober, with God.  I know that this punch is waiting for me, so I avoid it all day long and bury myself in activity so that I am numb, not here inside of me.  At night I stop moving and then I feel the shove from my past.  It’s so painful that I cannot tolerate it without howling.  I breath heavily, the way I might if I’d been literally punched.  But I do it over and over again as the impact of my history surges.  Then I start saying, “Oh my God.  Oh my God.  Oh my God.”  And I am crying desperately.

Hate is the means for me to perpetuate what my mother and the others did.  Love is the way to annihilate it.  Love is the pathway to freedom, the power, the unlimited liberty and dignity.  My sincere blessing of my enemy in no means blesses them.  I’m giving them nothing.  In fact in one holy story God says, “Pray for your enemies and insodoing heap burning coals upon their heads.”  If I try to heap burning coals I will self-immolate.  If, with all my heart I pray for those who, for cause or not for cause, I hate, if I do this with sincerity, I am free of their trespass.

I am not praying for my enemy’s benefit.  I am praying for me.  I am not blessing them and therefore condoning their actions.  I am blessing them to disconnect myself from the consequences of their actions.  But the prayer has to be sincere, without malice, if I am to be free.

William Blake excerpt : (This one passage, here without modern corrections, provides the answers to so many questions  it’s worthy of a lifetime of study.)

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead. The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity. He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence. The cut worm forgives the plow. Dip him in the river who loves water. A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.

He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star. Eternity is in love with the productions of time. The busy bee has no time for sorrow. The hours of folly are measur’d by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure. All wholsom food is caught without a net or a trap. Bring out number weight & measure in a year of dearth.

No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings. A dead body, revenges not injuries. The most sublime act is to set another before you. If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise. Folly is the cloke of knavery. Shame is Prides cloke. Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion. The pride of the peacock is the glory of God. The lust of the goat is the bounty of God. The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God. The nakedness of woman is the work of God. Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps. The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the    destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man. The fox condemns the trap, not himself. Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth. Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece of the sheep. The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship. The selfish smiling fool, & the sullen frowning fool, shall be both thought wise, that they may be a rod. What is now proved was once, only imagin’d. The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbit: watch the roots; the lion, the tyger, the horse,  the elephant, watch the fruits.

The cistern contains; the fountain overflows. One thought, fills immensity. Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you. Every thing possible to be believ’d is an image of truth. The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.  The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion. Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night. He who has suffer’d you to impose on him knows you. As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers. The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Expect poison from the standing water. You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough. Listen to the fools reproach! it is a kingly title! The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the beard of earth. The weak in courage is strong in cunning. The apple tree never asks the beech how he shall grow, nor the lion, the horse, how he shall take his prey. The thankful reciever bears a plentiful harvest. If others had not been foolish, we should be so. The soul of sweet delight, can never be defil’d. When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius, lift up thy head! As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys. To create a little flower is the labour of ages.

Damn, braces: Bless relaxes.

The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest. Prayers plow not! Praises reap not! Joys laugh not! Sorrows weep not! The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands & feet Proportion. As the air to a bird of the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible. The crow wish’d every thing was black, the owl, that every thing was white. Exuberance is Beauty. If the lion was advised by the fox, he would be cunning. Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius. Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires. Where man is not nature is barren. Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ’d.