Chapter 13 in About God
We have it written that the Father in Heaven has compassion. For many of us, this is very difficult. Where, we may ask, is the compassion of the Father, on the day our house burns, on the day our beloved dies, on the day our people are killed in war?
Some recommend that we choose to close our eyes to the question, and make ourselves more blind, rather than desiring to be less so. This is a choice to hate many questions. A religious movement lately increasing in power in the world, one whose oldest writings encourage killing of unbelievers “wherever you find them,” encourages its devotees to repeat over and over again that the Creator is “akbar”, which simply means “beyond”, their intent being to inculcate a theory that the Creator is beyond anything and everything seen: they want everyone to consider that He is not here and really does not care, except about certain unsavory outcomes. It is worthwhile to consider, how close many church-teachers have come, and still do come, to this pattern.
I do think most of us can agree that given choice, we would rather see more, and would rather not swallow blindness pills. What might we have to see, in order to recognize the existence of the compassion of the Father? Why might this be such a difficult thing?
The question reminds me very much of a number things I saw and received, a number of years ago. It’s quite a story, please do bear with.
At the time I happened to be living with ten or fifteen other people, also relatively young. Some of us were chronic drug addicts. All of us were in grave pain of the soul. Many of us screamed a lot.
The screaming was never for obvious reasons. Physical pain had nothing to do with it. Sometimes it went on for many hours at a time. On the worst days and nights, one screaming would be joined and become two and three and rarely four or five, and this torture for all of us, staff and not, sometimes continued until past breakfast-time and beyond. At least one of these that I saw, began early Christmas eve.
I was as appalled as possible, and wondered if I was going to start screaming myself. Happily I found myself exempt, though it is not trivial for a young man to be present and unable to help while multiple women scream in terror and inner pain. Around the same time as this began to happen often, I found myself drawn to a nearby piano. It happened to stay in quite good tune, though it was almost never touched by anyone except to rest drinks upon. I had had a certain history with pianos, so I thought perhaps it might be a good idea.
I was not then capable of playing common songs, but some new music did find its way into my hands sometimes, and so I played it. I was quite surprised to find myself able to concentrate on the music easily, regardless of the other things happening around me. Eight short musical essays arose over several weeks, and I was starting to feel good about music in my hands again, for the first time in quite while. And then a thought came. It was a thought that felt mostly like my own, but not entirely, it had an unusual flavor. It said, “I wonder if a piano can scream?”
For me this thought was shocking, startling, and not a little intriguing. I had listened to much piano music over the years and enjoyed and sometimes played, had heard pianos cry, yell, speak quietly, and firmly declare. But I had never heard a piano scream. And as I wondered about this thought that I only partly recognized, I felt my right hand curve into a chord-shape it had never held before, and saw a few places where it would get used, and accepted a long walk ahead.
So I found myself beginning a very long, very structured, very careful piece of music. It was the only one I have ever played by all of that description, and I was surprised. Most surprisingly of all, it eventually did indeed gather to a scream, even two series of screams, in two slow mountaintop pushes and descents with thunder, separated by a rest with a feel like rainstorm. The piece of music was more precise, more specific in its notes and its phrases and its emphases and quietudes, than anything I have been permitted to play before or since. I could tell that I was not designing it. It was being given to me, very gradually, carefully, and gently, by a thought which exhibited much more power and capability than anything I had known. I would play perhaps five or ten seconds of the music, record that, immediately be given to see what parts of what I had just played were wrong, do it again, over and over again until it was right at least twice or three times and sometimes five or six, and then move on to the next five or ten seconds. The design was strict and precise, and the thought which presented it, gently permitted no variation at all.
It took a solid year to receive it entirely and then, with practice, to be able to play it reliably. I worked on it every day, sometimes two and three sessions per day. It was about six minutes long when completed, not really very long at all as historical piano music goes, but the precision coupled to the power was scary. I had never played anything like it, even in the last two years of my twelve in classical piano. But even more scary was what also happened during the process.
As already related, when I was receiving this it was common to hear usually one, and sometimes more than one, woman, screaming in terror and misery, for hours on end. The piece was not soft in at some of its excursions, and at first I was concerned that the staff on duty might see fit to ask me to stop. Any other unsoft sound was always carefully and routinely squelched in that place, except the screaming, and I understood very well why, because any other unsoft sound was likely to precipitate more screaming or worse. But the remarkable thought delivering the music urged me on, and no staff urged me off, so I continued. And not long after this began, I began wondering why, and immediately realized: while the music was being played, if I didn’t make too many mistakes, the screaming gradually stopped.
After a month or two of this, I quietly detected a mite of controversy among the staff, via overheard conversation. Some wanted the music stopped, for no reason given save the circumstances being unusual. The others suggested there were good results obtaining, and I was grateful. The yays eventually won the day, and told me not to worry, they were taking care of things; so I kept on and on. I was surprised yet again, because the unusual, also, was in that category of events to be squelched as a general rule.
Eventually all of the notes and phrasing had arrived, and I practiced it a lot, it had enough for me to need quite a lot of practice. I was grateful for the task, but since I had all of the notes now, my awareness expanded a bit. While practicing, I listened outside of the little closet where the piano had been moved, and began to wonder just why the screaming gradually stopped when the music began. From the source of the music again, I received a new, most radical, yet peace-generating thought: they became relieved, because the source of the music was screaming with them, and then shortly for them. Because the source of the music was screaming, they did not feel the need, or the same amount of need. I never managed to ask any of the people of the screams about this; none of them were ever able to look me in the eye after this music began, and conversation was thus never possible.
All of us non-screamers, did tend to ask the staff about the causes of the screaming. We were usually trying to be compassionate to each other, to the staff, and also to the screamers themselves, but we probably drove the staff a bit up the wall because it was the same questions over and over again. And we non-screamers tended to believe what the staff had available to tell us about the screaming, which was that there was not any cause or reason for it, that the screaming was just part of illnesses. But there was one more related thought that the source of the music had for me in that year. The thought was, that there was indeed cause, there was indeed reason, though not human. The screamers needed to scream out of real righteous terror, of the real factual future, as a result of a set of feelings delivered at a very subliminal level, by the Creator Himself, to all, with no one being permitted exemption. And more than twenty years later, the Lord having changed my soul considerably, making me able to receive much additional information, I finally understand it: this all is immediate and direct working of the compassion of the Father in Heaven.
I did not and still do not find it easy to recognize compassion as something which might elicit fear. But I saw one way recently. My sweet wife Lori and I have a wonderful little cat; she loves to turn off some of her bones and be loved on, off, and around laps of anyone who understands. But she is also rambunctious when she wants to be. One day my sweet wife came home to find the big kitchen trash can on the floor, on its side, it being clearly intelligently topless and strategically conquered by our little cat. The cat knew she had done wrong, she kept her ears down, and sadly walked away to her resting chair. She was not waiting for a shoe to drop; the consequences had already happened, she was sad, and experiencing a particular kind of fear which is good. I will suggest to you, dear reader, that that little cat experienced a cat-sized example of that which is written, where the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
I will suggest that the cat has ideas of rightness and wrongness, and will feel a good kind of fear when she understands that she has done wrong. Some of these ideas of hers, the very ideas, are wrong, and when she understands this, she will feel that good fear also, until one of us gives her the love by which she knows that all is well.
I will suggest, that we are all like a little cat, in respect to our Father in Heaven.
True compassion is the sharing of emotion. The Father, who has compassion, desires to share His emotion with us and ours with Him, and does do so, whether we like it or not. If we have too many wrong ideas, we will believe that anything we feel from Him is no good and must be ignored and repressed, and we will do so.
The compassion of the Father is not the spineless glad of the man who smiles and praises his daughter no matter how much she plays the slut to millions. It is also not the behavior of the human tribal leader who is helpful to everyone which supports her/his claim to dominance, and curses, ignores, kills, or imprisons everyone for whom he/she is not the center. The compassion of the Father is very different: He delivers it to every single person, for the maximum good.
The poor suffering screamers, were very ill, had many disturbances within, which caused them to react with terror to the compassion of the Father. The Father sends us all His ultradominant love, which we all suppress, in the profoundly sad pattern into which we are first born. And He sends us His profound and terrible sadness and frustration too, which in general we do not understand and do also suppress, as much as we can. But the screamers are not strong enough to suppress, and so they scream.
That day, I learned that the Father is truly unhappy about many things which are, were, and shall be; and I learned that these feelings are real and correct and good and not going to be stopped. I learned that because of this, the feelings of the screamers too were real and true, and sufficiently correct to be worthy of honor. And I learned I do not have good reason to question the rightness of certain of my own similar states of being, as I was told to do over the years. The women had too much trouble within them, as did I before the source of the music began to release me, to do other than fear and suppress all that comes by the compassion of the Father. And much later, I learned that in the place of the risen Son, the Father promised to send a Helper, the Holy Spirit: so to be as specific as possible in this day, it is the Holy Spirit, who is doing delivery to all of us, everywhere, of the compassion, the real and infinitely valuable feelings, of the Father. The Father delivers His love, and His frustration, and His sadness and His anger, with us, in His Father-sized compassion, which shall be disturbing to all except as we become able and willing to love Him. And we become willing to love Him, as He changes us, changes for which He encourages us to ask.
I received only a seed in that year of the music. I was changed only enough, to receive just enough love and cherishing through the compassion of the Father, that I was able to decide to seek a very different kind of life than I had ever known. Over time He has proceeded to open my mind more and more. I know more about His frustration and anger now than I ever have, and I expect to know yet much more; but I also know much more about His love and kindness now too, the feelings by which He gives us the privileges to eat, sleep, love, and most of all, grow into that which He Personally defines as good, more and more. All of His feelings are enormously greater than any human being’s; we cannot truly conceive of their boundaries nor their extents, for we are nowhere near big enough. But we can feel them if we are willing and as He makes us able, and He very much wishes to make us able. If we ask, we receive. We must love ourselves, and be patient with ourselves, because there is much which the Father will need to remove from us, so that we can perceive His good.
© 2017 Jonathan E. Brickman
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