Masked and Anonymous

Just a passage from Abraham Joshua Heschel’s deeply inspiring book, Man Is Not Alone.

God is unwilling to be alone, and man cannot forever remain impervious to what He longs to show. Those of us who cannot keep their striving back find themselves at times within the sight of the unseen and become aglow with its rays. Some of us blush, others wear a mask. Faith is a blush in the presence of God.

Some of us blush, others wear a mask which veils spontaneous sensitivity to the holy ineffable dimension of reality. We all wear so much mental make-up, we have almost forfeited our face. But faith only comes when we stand face to face — the ineffable in us with the ineffable beyond us — suffer ourselves to be seen, to commune, to receive a ray and to reflect it. But to do that the soul must be alive within the mind.

Responsiveness to God cannot be copied; it must be original with every soul. Even the meaning of the divine is not grasped when imposed by a doctrine, when accepted by hearsay. It only enters our vision when leaping like a spark from the anvil of the mind, hammered and beaten upon by trembling awe.

I noted that particular passage for its (pre-)echo of Dylan’s concept of humans as beings who go around wearing masks, as in his 2004 film.However, it is soaring and galvanizing writing irrespective of any potential Dylan links. And every page of the book is like that. Quite amazing.

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