Sunday, June 07, 2015

Becoming Aware of God’ PLAN

I just came across a remarkable book by Tom Sullivan, “As I See It:  My View from the Inside Out.”

Born prematurely in 1947, Tom was given too much oxygen while in an incubator.  Though it saved his life, it cost him his eyesight.

I was particularly struck by his experience at the Sistine Chapel.  He was frustrated to be there, unable to see Michelangelo’s masterpieces, and then his daughter, Blythe, approached a curator who had a loving heart, and opened it up to Tom to feel the sculptures.

Here is Tom’s loving account:

There are ultimate moments in a person’s life, experiences that transcend all others.  For me, this moment—this singular hour on the clock of life—changed my life forever.

I was taken behind the ropes and allowed to touch the works of the artist.  Under my hands—the hands that had been my eyes on the world—the masterpieces came alive, and in a moment of beautiful clarity I realized that I understood every nuance Michelangelo had hammered and chiseled into the Carrara marble.

I touched Moses, feeling the fullness of his beard, the tablets of the Commandments under his arm, the set of his chin, as if he were saying, “I will bring the people of Israel out of bondage.”  There was the high forehead, the angle of his shoulders preparing to move, to reach freedom.

I was crying now, uncontrollably, the tears pouring down my face because for the first time I grasped, in this place—incredibly etched in my memory forever—that I was no longer really blind because I was seeing Michelangelo[s work inside out, as he had seen it in its creation.

From that day to this and on through the rest of my time on earth, I realize that my way of looking at the world will remain unique and, yes, unusual.  I’m sure that in God’s essential PLAN I was chosen to be blind, and after many years of struggle I’ve come to terms with that remarkable truth.  I now celebrate my own uniqueness with closed eyes and a completely open soul.

And this is beautifully echoed in these passages from A Course in Miracles:

A healed mind does not plan. It carries out
the PLAN  that it receives through listening
to Wisdom that is not its own. It waits
until it has been taught what should be done,
and then proceeds to do it. It does not
depend upon itself for anything
except its adequacy to fulfill
the PLANS assigned to it. It is secure
in certainty that obstacles can not
impede its progress to accomplishment
of any goal that serves the greater PLAN
established for the good of everyone.
(Lesson 135.11)

Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast
illusion in which figures come and go
as if by magic. Yet there is a PLAN
behind appearances that does not change.
The script is written. When experience
will come to end your doubting has been set.
 (Lesson 158.4)


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Saying “WOW.” A shift from in-time to out-of-time

I often find myself saying, “WOW.”  For example, I just walked into our living room, and I was stopped because I saw a bright light streaming through the skylights, throwing luminous rectangles of light on the wall, and I found myself exclaiming, “Wow.”

Soon after, I came across this passage in Doreen Virtue’s, “Healing with the Angels:”
Doreen:
The angels also show me that it would be a great idea for you to have pink roses around you.
Belinda, her client:
Oh, WOW!  That opens my heart just thinking about it.
Often, in our Writing Class, a poem is read aloud, and guys say, “WOW.”

Then I thought, hmmm, I wonder if I can make up an acronym for WOW., and I did: 

Without Ordinary Wariness

The word “wary,” comes from the Latin, vereri, meaning “to fear.”

Our ego consciousness is wary of seeing the light, fearful of its own continuing existence.  When this wariness is suspended for a split-second, we can experience the light, Christ vision.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
William Blake


It is a WOW moment when Blake sees haven in a Wild Flower, and renders it into words, and a reader says WOW while reading it, and what is being communicated is seeing with Christ vision, stepping, for a moment, out of time and space and into eternity.

I asked my friend, Judy, to come up with an acronym, and she promptly did:

Work Of Wonder

When I mentioned this to Christine, she quickly said:

Wonder Of Wonders

The word “miracle” comes from the Latin, miraculum, meaning “to wonder.”

Miracle, of course, is defined in the Course as “a shift in perception.”  In a WOW moment we are shifting from ego consciousness to light.

WOW expresses the synchronicity of the crossing of two vectors, out-of-time and in-time.

Expressed in general terms, we have these crossings: 

forgiveness/grievance
remembering/forgetting
love/fear
love’s presence/blocks
waking/sleeping
resurrection/crucifixion
“Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?”/
“It is accomplished!”
atonement/separation
wave/particle
eternity/time and space.
The single condition that allows a WOW moment to occur is RECEPTIVITY to the out-of-time vector.  As we become increasingly RECEPTIVE and gather together, the more these synchronistic moments occur.

A WOW moment brings to mind the memory of what always is,
using this memory  as a springboard from what never was,
enabling us to dive deeply into what is, LOVE.


Now I’m found/I once was lost

And, of course, it all happens by the grace of God.

Amazing Grace


How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now I'm found

Was blind, but now I see


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Woman in Gold: Down the Rabbit Hole, Arty Senger

On Monday, April 13, 2015, I entered a theatre and unknowingly slid down a rabbit hole into an ever expanding new, yet familiar world.  “Woman in Gold”, the film being shown, depicted the true story of a Jewish refugee’s legal battle with the Austrian government to return a painting that had been confiscated by the Nazis in 1938.  The painting, “Adele Bloch-Bauer”, was a portrait of Maria Altmann’s Aunt, created in 1907 by Austria’s most revered artist, Gustav Klimt.

While viewing the scenes of present day Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Vienna morph into memories of past unreal scenes, I felt my emotions being plucked like the strings of a harp.  Flashbacks showed the opulent, gay lifestyle of uber rich Viennese Jews in the early twentieth century… and thirty years later, when all their wealth and possessions were stripped away by the Nazis. 

Images of people experiencing the highs and lows of human existence streaked across the screen.  I was plunged into memories of my deceased husband, a German Jew who left with his family in 1936 for asylum in Italy.  Three years later, Mussolini joined Hitler and the only country left open to his family was China.  Paul’s dreams of becoming a physician were shattered and he became, in his own words, “Just a poor cabinet-maker”.

My trip down the rabbit hole continued when I returned home from the movie.  While removing my coat, I heard the telephone ring.  It was Ray Comeau, a former English professor who facilitates my Friday writing class.  He suggested that I see “Woman In Gold” and, from an artist’s point of view, write up my impressions of the painting.  This call was surely serendipitous.  I sensed this assignment came from “out of time”.

How to describe the painting; is it opulent or decadent, superficial or profound, a masterpiece or kitsch?  Seeing it on screen, I saw beauty.  There is a square canvas, 4-1/2 x 4-1/2 feet.  An elegant, black-haired woman adorned in precious jewels, sits with hands clasped. Her ivory face, neck, shoulders and arms emerge from thick gold paint covered with geometric figures: squares, spirals, triangles, ovoids, eyes, ornamental motifs as well as secret, erotic symbols.  She appears ethereal but frozen in metal and jewels. 

I remember first glimpsing a reproduction of this painting seventy years ago when I was an art major at Mills College.  My instructor dismissed it as “kitsch”!  We were then studying “cubism”, which was considered true innovative art.  I shrink now at the judgment involved.

One other impression of the painting came from a friend, Art Director Diane Leary.  In 1968, she traveled from home in New Zealand to Austria and visited the Belvedere Museum.  She experienced room after room filled with dark, heavy classical paintings in the European style.  Then she saw an unmarked green door, open, framing a staircase with sunlight pouring down.  Curiosity propelled her up the stairs where she stopped in amazement; a huge area spread before her filled with Gustav Klimt’s paintings.  Many were from his gold period.  Her mind said they were garish and she shouldn’t like them, but her heart fell in love.

Adele Bloch-Bauer I is a multi-faceted portrait.  Diane Leary’s impression was the same as mine; the painting exposed two facets of Vienna’s Mona Lisa.  To fully appreciate this art we needed to know something of the artist and to know the artist we needed to know something of the space and time that spawned his genius.  Lastly, what do we know of the subject herself, Adele Bloch-Bauer?

My friend Hana ferreted out the perfect gem of a book for me entitled “Gustav Klimt, Art Nouveau Visionary” by Eva di Stefano, Italian Art critic and historian.  Beautifully reproduced photographs of Klimt’s work were interspersed with comprehensive information.  I was thrilled to bring this wonderful book home with me from the Madison bookstore.

Gustav Klimt, like his painting, was multifaceted.  He was born July, 1862 in a suburb of Vienna.  His father was a gold engraver and his mother an unsuccessful opera singer.  They influenced his love of music and use of gold in art.  Following formal training in Arts and Crafts he became a prolific painter of historic murals and landscapes and he finally concentrated on women’s portraits.  His last thirty years coincided with the final years of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire.  Writers describe this as “the golden age of bourgeois  security”  that slipped into a “gay apocalypse”.  It was described as the “world of yesterday” – aristocratic, elegant with operatic melodies.  It was the cradle of Zionism, anti-Semitism and Austrian Marxism.  The era’s intellectuals, including Sigmund Freud, were redefining subjectivity.  Erotic hedonism was rampant. 

Gustav Klimt, more than anyone else, was able to give a face to the period’s obsessions: the destructive power of eros, erotic superiority of women, and the idea of an elusive, eternal femme fatale.  These were the central themes of his work.  Aesthetic values were taken to the extreme. He had a personal decorative language where ornament was not empty form but part of the structure. 
Klimt’s golden style spanned the years from 190l to 1909.  He used massive amounts of pure gold leaf and gilded paper.  Gustave not only depicted the “gay apocalypse”, but was part of it.  It is reported that he entertained over one hundred lovers at his studio while he continued to live with his mother and sisters.

Gustav Klimt died in 1918, the same year as the dissolution of the Hapsburg Empire.

Key to the final facet defining this revered portrait was the model herself.  Who was Adele Bloch-Bauer?  As the daughter of a banker, and wife of the owner of central Europe’s largest sugar refinery, she represented Austria’s refined Jewish bourgeoisie.  While almost blending in to Viennese high society, she was hostess to the era’s stars, including Alma Mahler, Richard Strauss, and Sigmund Freud.  Gustav Klimt painted two identified portraits and over one hundred sketches of Adele.  It was known that the artist and this lovely married lady were intimately involved.  Several erotic paintings titled “Judith” were said also to depict his lover.  One face glowed with post-orgasmic fervor above bared breasts. 

Brief affairs were common at the turn of the century among wealthy Viennese.  At the young age of forty-three in the year 1925, lovely, lively Adele Bloch-Bauer died of meningitis.  She was spared from seeing her precious belongings seized by the Nazis!

The last serendipitous message I received came from a book.  I knew it was imperative that I finish my assignment.  “The Hare with Amber Eyes” by Edmund DeWaal was loaned to me by my friend, Nellie.  I finally started reading this book two days after seeing “Woman in Gold”.  Edmund Dewaal inherited 264 Netsukes (Japanese wood and ivory carvings no bigger than a matchbox).  He felt compelled to trace their journey through generations of his family.  The journey took him from Odessa to Paris and from occupied Vienna to Tokyo.  To my total surprise, his wealthy Jewish-Viennese family lived on Ring Strasse, the same street at the same time as Adele Bloch-Bauer lived there. 

DeWaal meticulously researched the milieu and personal lives of his great grandparents.  Viktor, 39 years old married Emma, 18 years old in 1899.  He was in love with Emmy and she was in love with an “an artist and playboy who had no intention of marrying anyone.”  I wondered if it could have been Gustav Klimt?  At that time, sex was inescapable in Vienna.  Sex is argued over by Freud.  In “Sex and Character”, the cult book of 1903, women were said to be amoral by nature and in need of direction.  DeWaal states that Emma’s friendships of 100 years ago are no secret.  All her former lovers are known.

The Old Emperor Frans Josef was trying to keep together a harmonious supranational state.  Regarding anti-Semitism, he is quoted “I will tolerate no “Judenhelze” in my empire”.  The empires dissolved in 1918.

“All that glitters is not gold” was the first thought I had on viewing Adele’s portrait.  It is now my last thought.

Vienna in 1906 was like a city with splendid empty palaces setting on decaying foundations.  Oskar Kokoschka would later write, “People lived in security, nonetheless, they were full of fear.”  Old emperor Franz Josef held the idea of a harmonious supranational state, ignoring the unrest and reawakening of nationalism.  He rejected anti-Semitism but still the prejudices grew stronger.  The palatial homes and large families proclaimed stability while spouses took on multiple lovers.  The Austro-Hungarian empire was in denial.  The ultra-rich Jews on Ring Strasse were also in denial.  Their immense wealth allowed them to purchase anything desired; their art collections rivaled those held by museums.  These Jews also blended into the Christian upper class so well they were almost indistinguishable.

Gustav Klimt’s portraits also represent this era.  In Adele Bloch-Bauer, only a small part of the canvas depicts her ivory skin and black hair.  Ninety percent of the area is covered in thick gold with multiple decorative motifs embedded in it.  This large area has little connection to the model and could be a separate painting.  It is like the glitter of denial that covers Vienna is drowning out the image of Adele Bloch-Bauer.

This assignment enchanted me.  I was immersed in the movie, thrilled by Ray’s request, and excited by my trip to Barnes and Noble and discovery of the Klimpt book.  And my balloon popped!

I received back from Hana the first pages of my paper on “Women in Gold” she typed for me.  Where I had written “morph into memories of past Viennese scenes” she had typed “morphed into memories of past unreal scenes”!  What did she mean?  Of course I know this is a story of human beings told from the point of view of ego, my ego.  Of course I know that God did not create a world of pain, loss and death.  Of course in this past week of pure adrenalin I had bought into this story - hook, line and sinker.  Acknowledging ownership of this tale gradually allowed me a different view of this segment of human history.

I thought of Jesus on the Cross, asking God to forgive the two criminals for “they know not what they do”.  I, too saw that the rich Jews, Viennese Christians, Emperor Franz Josef, the Nazis and Gustav Klimt are projections of my own thoughts.  Forgive me, Father, for I know not what I do!  As I forgive myself, I thank God for this wonderful assignment….for all that glitters is not gold!  Last of all, while writing this paper, I dropped my judgments and now can enjoy the “Woman in Gold” portrait exactly as it is.


Friday, March 06, 2015

Jeremy, The Christ at Buchenwald, and my Commentary Inspired by the Mind Training of A Course in Miracles.


This is a commentary on “Jeremy,” an essay from the book, “Against the Pollution of the I:  Selected Writings of Jacques Lusseyran.”
 
I was so inspired reading this essay that I recorded passages that came to mind as I read certain sentences and paragraphs.


Sentences and paragraphs from the essay are in bold, and my passages are in a plain font.

I do not know if there is a greater blessing than to encounter a true old person, that is, one who is joyous.
Jeremy was an example: he found joy in the midst of Block 57. He found it during moments of the day where we found only fear. And he found it in such great abundance that when he was present we felt it rise in us. Inexplicable sensation, incredible even, there where we were: joy was going to fill us.

Eternity
William Blake

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Live in eternity’s sunrise.

The one who fills my memory is like this. His name is Jeremy Regard.
It is not I who would give him this name. It was his. How many novelists would like to have invented it?
This is how “regard” is translated into English:
Regardez l’homme.
Look at the man.
Je tiens l’homme en grande estime.
I hold the man in great regard.

Jeremy was looking through.

Lesson 42, God is my strength.  Vision is His gift.
And here and there one could just barely glimpse a second forge standing there, a forge of the spirit.
I heard Jeremy speak of men who did not come to his shop just for their horse and their wagons but for themselves. They came so as to go home all steeled and new, to take home a little of the life they were lacking and which they found overflowing, shining, and gentle at the forge of father Jeremy.

. . .he seemed to be addressing invisible beings. through you.

Namste.
You felt it as you feel a hand on the shoulder, a hand which summons, which brings you back to yourself when you were about to disappear.
I am God’s Son, complete and healed and whole, shining in the reflection of His Love.   (Who am I?)

Each time he appeared, the air became breathable: I got a breath of life smack in the, face.

The root meaning of “spirit,” is “to breathe.”  We  are breathing ion the Holy Spirit, the breath of God.

 But I also knew many who died very quickly, like flies, because they thought they were in hell.

Lesson 325, All things I think I see reflect ideas.

From judgment comes a world condemned. And from forgiving thoughts a gentle world comes forth…
"For one who knows how to see, things are just as they always are," he said.
Well, without a doubt, there exist in certain beings, as there existed in him, a rightness and wholeness so perfect their way of  seeing communicates itself, is given to-you; for, at least, an instant. And the silence then is truer, more exact, than any word.
But one day it became obvious, palpable to me in the flesh, that Jeremy, the welder, had lent me his eyes.
With those eyes, I saw that Buchenwald was not unique, not even privileged to be one of the places of greatest human suffering. I also saw that our camp was not in Germany as we thought, in the heart of the Thuringee, dominating the plain of Lena, in this precise place and in no other. Jeremy taught me, with his eye, that Buchenwald was in each one of us, baked and re-baked tended incessantly, nurtured in a horrible way. And that consequently we could vanquish it, if we desired to with enough force.

One time n Session, Dear One said, “I will stand here for a moment so that you can catch your true reflection.”
. . .the land of Cockaigne.
In medieval times Cockaigne was a mythical land of plenty.
A man who did not dream: that was more important than anything. The rest of us were dreamers.
Prospero:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest. (4.1. 18-58)
For him, and for us through him, the world was saved in each second. This benediction had no end. And, when it ceased, it was that we had ceased wanting it, that we—and not it—had ceased being joyful.


Lesson 325, All things I think I see reflect ideas.

This is salvation’s keynote.
What was supernatural in him, from all evidence, didn't belong to him; it was meant to be shared. The spectacle, if it existed, was for us to find and to find within ourselves. I have the clearest memory of finding it. I perceived, one day like the others, a little place where I did not shiver, where I had no shame, where the death-dealers were only Text Box: 7phantoms, where life no longer depended on the presence of the camp or on its absence.  I owed it to Jeremy.
This reminds me of making contact with small children.  For example, I am in the checkout lane at Wal-Mart, and a small child is in the cart in front of me makes great eye contact with me, recognizing something in me that his parents do not see.  We just keep it up, smiling, until his parents checkout and leave.
What I call the supernatural in him was the break with habits which he had completely realized. Those habits of judgment which make us call any adversity "unhappiness" or "evil," those of greed which make us hate, desire vengeance, or simply complain—a minor but incontestable form of hatred—those of our dizzying egocentricity which make us think that we are innocent each time we suffer. He had escaped from the network of compulsive reflexes, and it was this necessary movement which neither good health—or even perfect health, if such exists—can explain.
Lesson 61, I am the light of the world.
. . .the ego’s petty views of what you are and what your purpose is.  
If I have used the word "supernatural," it is because the act of Jeremy sums up to me the religious act itself: the discovery that God is there, in each person, to the same degree, completely in each moment, and that a return can be made toward Him.
Who is the light of the world except God's Son? This, then, is merely a statement of the truth about yourself. It is the opposite of a statement of pride, of arrogance, or of self-deception. It does not describe the self-concept you have made. It does not refer to any of the characteristics with which you have endowed your idols. It refers to you as you were created by God. It simply states the truth.
We would all gain a lot by putting memory in quarantine.
The petty memory, at least, the stingy, encumbering memory which makes us believe in this unreality, this myth: the past.
Lesson  7,  I see only the past.
It is memory which suddenly brings back—without a shadow of reason—a person, or the shred of an event which then installs itself in us. The image throws itself on the screen of consciousness; it swells, soon there is nothing else but it. The mind's circulation stops. The present disperses. The moments which follow no longer have the force to carry us. They no longer have any flavor. In short, this memory secretes melancholy, regret, all manner of inner complication.
The miracle does nothing. All it does
is to undo. And thus it cancels out
the interference to what has been done.
It does not add, but merely takes away.
And what it takes away is long since gone,
but being kept in memory appears
to have immediate effects. This world
was over long ago. The thoughts that made
it are no longer in the mind that thought
of them and loved them for a little while.
The miracle but shows the past is gone,
and what has truly gone has no effects.
(T-28.1)

 Jeremy, when he speaks to me, does not do so from out of my past, but from the depths of my present, there, right in the center. I cannot move him.
There is no link of memory to the past.  (T-28.1)
The good which he enjoyed was not his. Or rather, it was—but by participation. It was just as much ours. This is the mystery and power of those beings who serve something other than their own provisional personalities: one cannot escape them.
Christ is God's Son as He created Him.
He is the Self we share, uniting us
with one another, and with God as well.
(What is the Christ?)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Jeremy: The Christ at Buchenwald, an essay by Jacques Lusseyran, the Blind Hero of the French Resistance



Jeremy
The first man on my path is an old man. And you cannot imagine how happy this makes me.
I do not know if there is a greater blessing than to encounter a true old person, that is, one who is joyous. It is a blessing which is rarely given to us, because for most, alas, age is nothing but the blank and degrading addition of physical years. But when an old person is joyous, he is so strong that he no longer needs to speak; he comes and he heals. The one who fills my memory is like this. His name is Jeremy Regard.
It is not I who would give him this name. It was his. How many novelists would like to have invented it?
I would like to be very modest, you know, in describing him, because he was so great and yet seemed so little. He made such a brief passage through my life—only a few weeks—that I can no longer remember his body. I vaguely perceive a man who is vigorous, straight, thickset. Yes, a small man, according to physical measurements. As for his face, I can't see it. I think that I never asked myself any questions about his face even then. I saw another which was much more real.
I met him in January 1944, in the midst of the war, in Germany, when I was in a
concentration camp at age nineteen. He was one of the six thousand French who arrived in Buchenwald between the 22nd and 26th of January. But he was unlike any other.
Here I must stop for a moment, because I have written the word "Buchenwald." I will often be writing of it. But do not expect a picture of the horrors of the deportation. These horrors were real, and they are not pleasant to talk about. To have the right to speak about them, it would be necessary to be a healer—and not just of the body. I will content myself then with the indispensable, the basic scenario.
Sometimes I will even speak of the deportation in a manner which is scandalous for some. I mean paradoxical: I will say in what it was good, I will show what riches it contained.
If I comeback to it sometimes, it is because it stands at the very entrance of my life, an attic bursting with pains and joys, with questions and answers.
Jeremy did not speak of the concentration camps either, even when he was there. He did not have his gaze nailed to the smoke from the crematorium, nor on the twelve hundred terrified prisoners of Block 57. He was looking through.
At first I didn't know who he was—people spoke to me of "Socrates."
My neighbors, who were very numerous, pronounced this name which was utterly unexpected in the swarming fear and cold in which we tossed. "Socrates said...,"
Socrates laughed....," Socrates was over there, a little further, on the other side of this crowd of closely shaven men. I did not understand why all these people called one person out of everyone Socrates. But I wished to meet him.
Finally one day I saw him—that is, I must have seen him, for to tell the truth, I have no memory of the first meeting.
I know only that I was expecting an eloquent  prisoner,  a clever metaphysician, some sort of triumphant moral philosopher. That is not at all what I found.
He was a simple welder from a small village at the foot of the Jura mountains. He had come to Buchenwald for reasons which had so little to do with the essential that I never knew them or asked about them.
His name was not Socrates, as you already know, but Jeremy, and I didn't understand why this name wasn't enough for his companions.
Jeremy's tale was that of a welder from a particular part of the world, a village in France. He loved to tell it with broad smiles. He told it very simply, as any tradesman talks about his trade. And here and there one could just barely glimpse a second forge standing there, a forge of the spirit.
Yes, I said "spiritual." However, the word has been spoiled by overuse. But this time it is true and full.
I heard Jeremy speak of men who did not come to his shop just for their horse and their wagons but for themselves. They came so as to go home all steeled and new, to take home a little of the life they were lacking and which they found overflowing, shining, and gentle at the forge of father Jeremy.
At this time I was a student. I had hardly ever experienced such men, they do not fill the universities. I thought that when a man possessed wisdom, he immediately said it, and said how and why and according to which affiliation of thought. Especially, I thought that in order to be wise, it was necessary to think, and to think rigorously.
I stood with my mouth open before Jeremy because he didn't think. He told stories,   almost always the same, he shook your shoulders, he seemed to be addressing invisible beings. through you. He always had his nose smack in the obvious, the close at hand.  If he spoke about the happiness of a neighbor upon leaving his shop, it was as if he spoke about a wart, a bump, which-lad just been removed. He observed things of the spirit with his eyes, as doctors observe microbes through their microscopes.. He made no distinction. And the more I saw him do this, the more the weight of the air diminished for me.

Text Box: 3I have encountered startling beings, beings whose gestures and words so dazzled that in their presence one had to lower one's eyes. Jeremy was not startling. Not a bit! He wasn't there to stir us up.

It was not curiosity which moved me toward him.  I needed him as a man who is dying of thirst needs water. Like all important things, this was elemental.
I see Jeremy walking through our barracks. A space formed itself among us. He stopped somewhere and, all at once, men pressed in tighter, yet still leaving him a little place in their midst. This was a completely instinctive movement which one cannot explain simply by respect. We drew back rather as one steps back to leave a place for one who is working.

You must picture that we were more than a thousand men in this barracks, a thousand where four hundred would have been uncomfortable. Imagine that we were all afraid, profoundly and immediately. Do not think of us as individuals, but as a protoplasmic mass. In fact, we were glued to one another. The only movements we made were pushing, clutching, pulling apart, twisting. Now you will better understand the marvel (so as not to say "miracle") of this small distance, this circle of space with which Jeremy remained surrounded.
He was not frightening, he was not austere, he was not even eloquent. But he was there, and that was tangible. You felt it as you feel a hand on the shoulder, a hand which summons, which brings you back to yourself when you were about to disappear.
Each time he appeared, the air became breathable: I got a breath of life smack in the, face. This was perhaps not a miracle, but it was at least a very great act, and one of which he alone was capable. Jeremy’s walk across the quad was that: a breathing. In my memory I can follow distinctly the path of light  and  clarity which he made through the crowd.

I didn't understand then who he was, but certainly I saw him. And this image began to work inside me until the moment it lit up like a torch. I didn't know who he was because he didn't say.

He had a story which he came back to often: it belonged, he belonged to the-Christian Scientist sect. He had even been to America once to meet his fellow Christian Scientists. This adventure, quite out of the ordinary for a welder from the Jura, intrigued but did not enlighten me. It gave another  layer of mystery to his character. That was all. Jeremy, without stories, mattered.
Is it necessary to apologize for using so many images which are linked to simple acts: to eating, to breathing? If I were tempted to do so, Jeremy would prohibit me. He knew  too well that one   does not  live on ides.

Text Box: 4He was truly, a  manual man. He knew that at Buchenwald we would not live on the ideas which we had of Buchenwald. He said this; he even said that many of us would die from them. Alas, he was not mistaken.
I knew there were men who died because people had killed them. For them there was nothing left to do but pray. But I also knew many who died very quickly, like flies, because they thought they were in hell. It was of such matters that Jeremy spoke.
It was necessary for there to be a man as simple, as clear, who had gone to the depths of reality, in order to see the fire and beyond the fire. More than hope was needed.
It was necessary to see.

The good man Jeremy saw. There was a spectacle before his eyes, but it was not the one we saw. It was not our Buchenwald, that of the victims. It was not- a prison, that is that is to say, a place of hunger, blows, death, protest, where other men, “the evil” ones, had committed the crime of putting us. For him, there were not us, the innocents, and the other, the big anonymous Other with the tormenting voice and the whip—"the Brute."

How did I know? You have the right to ask; after all, Jeremy said almost nothing about such things. Well, without a doubt, there exist in certain beings, as there existed in him, a rightness and wholeness so perfect their way of  seeing communicates itself, is given to-you; for, at least, an instant. And the silence then is truer, more exact, than any word.

When Jeremy  came to us across Block 57, in the midst of his little halo of space, it was clarity which he gave to us. It was an overflowing of vision, a new vision. And that is why we all made way for him.

Above all, do not imagine that Jeremy consoled us. At the point we had reached, any consolation would have been mere romance, a taunting nursery story. We were not in the land of Cockaigne, and if we had been crazy enough to think so for one second, waking up afterward would have been bitter indeed. Jeremy spoke hard. But he did so gently.

There was no trace of glibness about him. He had a mellow voice, precise and deliberate gestures, but this was the habit of his craft a natural tranquility. He was a good fellow, I'm telling you, not a prophet.
Jeremy was so little a prophet, he created so little uproar, that I don't know how many, among the dozen men who survived those days of Winter 1944 in Barrack 57, remember him today. I would so much like not to be the only one.
One didn't notice anything special about Jeremy, no sign. He carried the banner of no faith, except from time to time that of Christian Science. But at this time, for me, and for the other Frenchmen around me, this word had only a bizarre resonance.

Text Box: 5One went to Jeremy as toward a spring. One didn't ask oneself why. One didn't think about it. In this ocean of rage and suffering there was this island: a man who didn't shout, who asked no one for help, who was sufficient unto himself.
A man who did not dream: that was more important than anything. The rest of us were dreamers: we dreamed of women, of children, of houses, often the gory miseries of other times which we had the weakness call "liberty." We weren't at Buchenwald. We didn’t want anything to do with Buchenwald. And each time we came back, it was still there, and hurt just the same.
Jeremy was not disappointed. Why would he have dreamed? When  we  saw him coming with his immense serenity, we felt like shouting, "Close your eyes! What one sees here burns!" But the shout remained in our throats because from all the evidence, his eyes were solidly fixed on all our miseries and did not blink. Even more,  he did not seem like someone who takes a great burden upon himself, the air of a hero. He was not afraid, and that just as naturally as we were afraid.
"For one who knows how to see, things are just as they always are," he said. At first I did not understand. I even felt something quite close to indignation. What? Buchenwald like ordinary life? Impossible! All of these crazed, hideous men, the howling menace of death, these enemies everywhere, among the SS, among the prisoners themselves, this wedge of hill pushed up against the sky, thick with smoke, with its seven circles, and over there across the forest, the electric fences, all of this was just as usual! I remember that I could not accept this. It had to be worse--or if not—then more beautiful. Until finally Jeremy enabled me to see.
It was not a revelation, a flashing discovery of the truth. I don't think there was even an exchange of words. But one day it became obvious, palpable to me in the flesh, that Jeremy, the welder, had lent me his eyes.
With those eyes, I saw that Buchenwald was not unique, not even privileged to be one of the places of greatest human suffering. I also saw that our camp was not in Germany as we thought, in the heart of the Thuringee, dominating the plain of Lena, in this precise place and in no other. Jeremy taught me, with his eye, that Buchenwald was in each one of us, baked and re-baked tended incessantly, nurtured in a horrible way. And that consequently we could vanquish it, if we desired to with enough force.
"As always," Jeremy explained to himself sometimes. He had always seen people living in fear and in the most invincible of all fears: that which has no object. He had seen them all desire secretly and above all else one thing: to do harm to themselves. It was always, it was here, the same spectacle. Simply, the conditions had finally been completely fulfilled. The war, Nazism, the political and national follies had created a masterpiece, a perfect sickness and misery: a concentration camp.

Text Box: 6For us, of course, this was the first time. Jeremy had no use for our surprise. He said that it was not honest and that it did harm us.
He said that in ordinary life, with good eyes, we would have seen the same horrors. We had managed to be happy before. Well! The Nazis had given us a terrible microscope: the camp. This was not a reason to stop living.
Jeremy was an example: he found joy in the midst of Block 57. He found it during moments of the day where we found only fear. And he found it in such great abundance that when he was present we felt it rise in us. Inexplicable sensation, incredible even, there where we were: joy was going to fill us.
Imagine this gift which Jeremy gave us! We did not understand, but we thanked him, time and again.
What joy? Here are explanations, but they are feeble: the joy of being alive in this moment, in the next, each time we became aware of it. The joy of feeling the lives of others, of some others at least, against us, in the dark of night. What do I know? Isn't that enough for you?
It was much more than enough for us. It was a pardon, a reprieve, there, all of a sudden, just a few feet from hell. I knew this state through Jeremy. Others knew it also, I am sure.
The joy of discovering that joy exists, that it is in us, just exactly as life is, without conditions and which no condition, even the worst, can kill.

All of this, you will say, came from Jeremy because he was lucid. I didn't say that he was lucid—this quality belongs to intelligence and, in the world of intelligence, Jeremy was not at home. I said that he saw. I have spoken of him as a living prayer.
Subtle people will pretend that the faith of Jeremy was without nuances. Who cares! For him, and for us through him, the world was saved in each second. This benediction had no end. And, when it ceased, it was that we had ceased wanting it, that we—and not it—had ceased being joyful.

These are not great words. And if nonetheless you have that impression, then it is that I am clumsy. Jeremy was an ordinary man. Ordinary and supernatural, that's it.
One could very well live next to him for weeks and not see him, and speak only of "an old guy not like the others." He was not a spectacle in the manner of heroes or street hawkers.
What was supernatural in him, from all evidence, didn't belong to him; it was meant to be shared. The spectacle, if it existed, was for us to find and to find within ourselves. I have the clearest memory of finding it. I perceived, one day like the others, a little place where I did not shiver, where I had no shame, where the death-dealers were only
Text Box: 7phantoms, where life no longer depended on the presence of the camp or on its absence.  I owed it to Jeremy.

I have carried this man in my memories as one carries an imag e with one because it has been blessed.
And now, how has he disappeared? I hardly know. Without a sound, in any case, just as he came.

One day, someone told me that he had died. This must have been several weeks after our arrival in the camp.



Men went like this there. One almost never knew how. They disappeared in too great numbers all at once; no one had either the time or the inclination to look into the details, the "how" of their death. We let them melt into the mass. There was a solid ground of death in which we all participated more or less, we who were alive. The death of others was so much our own affair that we didn't have the courage to look it in the face.
I do not remember the "how" of Jeremy's departure. I remember only that he came to see me, several days earlier, and told me that it was the last time. Not at all in the way one announced an unhappy event, not so solemnly. Simply—this was the last time, and since it was thus he had come to tell me.
I don't think this caused me pain. It must not have been painful. Indeed it was not, because it was real and known.


He had been of service. He had the right to leave this world which he had completely lived.
I am well aware that people will say to me, "What do you see of the supernatural in your welder? He gave you an example of serenity, at a time when serenity was very difficult to attain. That's good, but that's all. This peace of Jeremy was the result of courage and a strong constitution."
Well, no! We will not have done with Jeremy for that price.
What I call the supernatural in him was the break with habits which he had completely realized. Those habits of judgment which make us call any adversity "unhappiness" or "evil," those of greed which make us hate, desire vengeance, or simply complain—a minor but incontestable form of hatred—those of our dizzying egocentricity which make us think that we are innocent each time we suffer. He had escaped from the network of compulsive reflexes, and it was this necessary movement which neither good health—po even perfect health, if such exists—can explain.

He had touched the very depth of himself and liberated the supernatural or, if this word 'bothers you, the essential, that which does not depend on any circumstance, which can Text Box: 8exist in all places and in any time, in pain as in pleasure. He had encountered the very source of life. If I have used the word "supernatural," it is because the act of Jeremy sums up to me the religious act itself: the discovery that God is there, in each person, to the same degree, completely in each moment, and that a return can be made toward Him.
This was the good news which Jeremy told, in his turn, and in his very humble manner. We would all gain a lot by putting memory in quarantine.
The petty memory, at least, the stingy, encumbering memory which makes us believe in this unreality, this myth: the past.
It is this which suddenly brings back—without a shadow of reason—a person, or the shred of an event which then installs itself in us. The image throws itself on the screen of consciousness; it swells, soon there is nothing else but it. The mind's circulation stops. The present disperses. The moments which follow no longer have the force to carry us. They no longer have any flavor. In short, this memory secretes melancholy, regret, all manner of inner complication.
Fortunately, there is the other memory. For me, it is the one to which Jeremy belongs.
This man haunts me, I confess. But he does not haunt me in the manner of the memory. Simply, he has entered into my flesh, he nourishes me, he works to make me live. I spend very little time thinking about him: one could say it is he who thinks of me.
To speak to you of him, I have had to allude to Buchenwald. But do not be misled. Jeremy was never "at Buchenwald." I encountered him there in the flesh and blood. He wore a registration number. Others beside myself knew him. But he was not there in the particular, exclusive, individual manner in which we hear the phrase "to have been at Buchenwald."
This adventure of the camp was for him only an adventure: it did not concern him in a fundamental way.
There are people whom I remember only in letting the "little memory' function in me. These people, if I encounter them there, remain there. Jeremy, when he speaks to me, does not do so from out of my past, but from the depths of my present, there, right in the center. I cannot move him.
They are all this way, the people who have taught us something. Because this something, this knowledge, this increase of presence
in life, they give to us only because they clearly know that they are not the owners. Imagine Jeremy happy as it happens to others to be happy: for personal reasons, due to a history different from that of others, precious and subtle. Do you think that he would still be in my life?

He would have rejoined those picturesque characters, passing figures. But Jeremy was not happy: he was joyous. The good which he enjoyed was not his. Or rather, it was—but by participation. It was just as much ours.
This is the mystery and power of those beings who serve something other than their own provisional personalities: one cannot escape them.