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I once wrote in my notes that “There is no the cruelest torture ever committed against a human soul than a torture by time.” And I mean it. I used this relatively trite notion in a bunch of my stories, notably inThe Forth Waltz, The Burden of Gratitude, When Everything Comes into Place and The Leap of Faith, especially in the latter one. Yet, I have to emphasize that I am talking about soul, not the body. Body under a torture could be broken and die, or it could heal completely or remain crippled.Soul is immortal, so it can’t die, at least not in this realm. And the Soul looks for relief, and most of the time it hardens under the torture. 

That affects its vessel too, turning it into a prison-hardened convict. And this is what prison does to people en mass. Yet, there is an alternative to such a bad change, and it could be a change for the better, although corrections shall not get credit for it. The credit should go to the One who allows such change to happen, it comes by a grace of God. Accepting this change takes courage, often a brazenly long leap of faith, but it is worth it. Because on the other side of this leap is what tormented soul is longing for: Freedom.

And the freedom can be found right there, in a dingy 4 X 8 solitary cell. It may sound improbable, like a cheap paradox out of our hype-infected media, but it's true. Perhaps, I should expound upon this a bit more, but I did it already in my stories. Here I’d rather give way to someone who did suffer a hell lot more than me and achieved a lot more too. I am talking aboutSt. John of the Cross, the Spanish mystic and theologian of XVI century, who wrote these verses while being locked in a prison cell inDominican monastery in Toledo:

Para venir a saber lo todo                                In order to arrive at knowing the All

No quieras saber algo en nada...                     Desire to know nothing in anything...

Para venir a ser lo todo                                   In order to arrive at being All

No quieras ser algo en nada...                         Desire to be nothing in anything...

Para venir a lo que no gustas                           In order to come to that for which you have no taste

Has de ir por lo que no gustas...                      You must go by the way of that for which you have

 no taste...

Ascent to Mount Carmel (Translated by Thomas Merton).

Sounds likeZen mantra, but that's what St. John of the Cross had written. I am calling this principle The Law of Attainment. And I do it for a reason. It works for attainment of everything, freedom included. In St. John's case the attainment of freedom went all the way. The monks had mocked him and beat him, and one day he plaited a rope out of his prison garbs, tied it to the window grating and escaped. And if you'd ever seen an icon of St. John of the Cross, you will never forget him, because he looks just likeKevin Spacey (or, I guess, it should go Vice Versa). I could talk more, but I won’t, because there is no better way to say it as it is done in these verses.

Funny note: I couldn't recall from which Merton's book I took this translation off: was it The Sign of Jonas or The Ascent to Truth? Sounds like no-brainer question, but I’ve struggled on it for a while. Sometimes most obvious things are the hardest ones to see.

One more quote for the go:

Ubi Spiritus Domini ibi libertas. (Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.) Guess, who said this one? Yep, the one who climbed down out of the prison window. St. John attained his freedom and wished us the same.

CLOSING PRAYER: Oh, blessed in Heaven St. John of the Cross and St. Thomas of Seven Storey Mountain, pray for me, a sinner. Or send me a rope.

Bela Abel.

 


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