Thursday 7 July 2016

The Hand of God - by William Arkle (1960)

The Hand of God

By William Arkle (self-published as a pamphlet in 1960)

I came to the point of love at my inmost heart, and I was glad and at rest, like unto the end of things. But the point was not a point, it was a doorway opening both inwards and outwards. Though I had thought to rest there for ever, I could not do so for long, since my deepest feelings pulled me. So pushing gently inwards I passed through the doorway and went in.

Then it was if I had walked onto the palm of the hand of my God, who had now become my great friend. The palm of His hand was as the most sensitive place in his heart might be. It was tenderly aware and responsive, so that I stopped still in case I should hurt it.

In some strange way the hand was the heart and it extended beyond my understanding in all directions unto the fingers. While the palm of this great hand was content to be at rest, as I was, the fingers had a longing in them to express the nature that was the heart of the hand. The place that had been a doorway had now become like a whole country opened from within.

As I stood in the sun of that moment, I was gathered into the song of a bird and I was with the substance of that song in a way which I had always longed to be. The sound rained on me and touched my spirit with a quickening, like a silver dart, which sent it shimmering outwards to all spaces that lay about me.

Each phrase of the song of that bird became like a book whose pages I could have written and drawn on for ever. For I overflowed with the means to say so much that had only been partly said. I, myself had only been partly said. But now I was among the saying and the understanding that was a fullness of my love and the delight of my God, and such gladness was between us both.

With a voice that needed no sound, my friend spoke through the whole of the vast country. His hand and His fingers were full of the expression of each word. The fingers not only held fast the treasure of the hand, but they were also the means of discovery. The spirit of this discovery was in need of companions, and I could be such a companion. For that which remained to be discovered lay out beyond the finger-tips of God's person in a larger reality of being.

Although I had not moved, my understanding had now grown beyond the bird song, out into the hills and meadows of this land; which land is only a way of saying the person and quality of this great friend. So, all about me lay qualities that cannot be said and at last I could be with them and more truly know myself. I realised how like my friend I had grown in ways which were yet real to me alone and to Him alone. And there, as I came abreast a hill, I saw in the distance the camp of His companions and, as I approached, they were all my companions and were remembered.

Here was a place where our God met with us and we also met with one another. Some were concerned with the harvesting of friends from among God's children, while some were enjoying the fruits of our Being nature, which we all shared and exchanged with ease. Others spoke of questing out into the potency of Divine nature, seeking for the refinement of greatness and beauty. Some went alone, others together and with them went the person of God in loving company. Such songs went up of sweetness and such chords were struck of gentleness, matched with burning love and endeavour, that they continually mingled about the sun. Now and then this caused a great leap in the heart of the whole hand and the sun flashed outwards to us all, and the peace, in which all was dressed, became more hushed and more deeply still, lengthening recognition and kissing the inmost heart of things.

Those who went out to the harvest passed through the doorway of the point of love where I had come in. There they met and discussed their work with those who lived about that point. Such did not see the door, as I had not seen it at first. When they were ready, down and outward each team would go. Some to tend the seed beds, others the garden and others again the fields that lay about the garden. So the harvest of friends was brought in, through patience and toil and pain. But it was their work which they longed to do; seeing in each friend an endless book of pages, filled and unfilled, to be read and to call forth response with freshness and difference; to be a delight upon the everlasting hand and to all who know it. Such who did this work became strong against the darkness of distance in which the seedlings root, away from the smile direct whose eyes would burn and hinder their growing and bending, unlike another's as it should become.

For the affection of the smile and the blue understanding which spreads from the eyes of God will seal the bond and comes after the growth which can support it, otherwise the bond is slavery not required. So first that smile begins to grow within each plant as goodly wholesome care, conceived by each to please itself alone. Then the foundation is sure and the growing and bending of the journey builds sure the friend who has no like. None other can we love aloft towards the doorway of the hand of the great heart.

How does the gladness grow among those who stay upon the palm of this hand, living among the hills and streams that cannot be said, who have the bird and song always and who thrill with the sunflash and the eyes. Long does the spirit drink such things and far does the loveliness spread when companionship rejoices unhindered in opal light and gentle ways. For the softness that becomes us here is strength and the sweetness is understanding, clear and unconfused; power only serves and is not sought by those who reach this place. Though beyond and beyond goes His spirit, to be uncovered, to be disclosed to those who search it out, or deep in their own well find it.

Then go up to this house. He will ask you in and She will greet you there. Father and Mother of us all, dwelling in a valley of the hills that are not, but are the hand that is the heart always. From this place their spirit never moves and in this place is the measure of all things kept safely. But you may go in and touch direct the uttermost. Then you will have the foundation about you you did not know to need. It remains in the smile there and all things are borne up by it. This is what is served to every friend who comes.

The light of Their eyes is to you and outward through the window is the view that goes to them that search and find and make and make again. Exploration and refinement bring back to the table in the hall the subjects of our gathering there. Here may all experience be added for the furthering; newly found and ancient, every value is potent to the plan that grows towards another day, when this day is complete.

So shall the harvest live on about the uttermost and the persons whose one life is for all and for friendship, whether They be seen or not, whether They be understood or not. They look upon their children to see who will stand and bear this friendship everlasting; or if, sadly, too much modesty or too much virtue may cause them to melt from this. Knowing no friend but Holiness, there can be no room in their ungathered love for such a self, it was somehow shamed away. Yet I see upon the table in the hall a project offering hands again to each such essence unfulfilled to friendship. We will come to it again another day.

Long would be the telling of this aching hand whose heart shall hold friends and teach the art to many in that country that cannot be said, between whose spirits the potency of difference so gladly spreads to uncover and display a growth to all things new.


Rich said...

Thanks for posting this, Bruce.

David Balfour said...

Truely, I long to live in Arkle's Heaven!The way he sees the divine family and our potential to forge eternal friendships that are a kind of creative play and cosmic adventure of co-creation with loving friends and family. What could possibly be a more appealing or motivating vision for an ideal world than that? At least for myself I cannot think of anything that could eclipse this. All the money, all the fame, fortune or transient fickle adoration or 'success' of this fallen world seems like a paltry and jaded mirage, an empty promise and a lonely hellish path of falsehood compared to Arkles vision. I find myself wanting to inhabit his world even for a few stolen moments of reverie between the demands of my stultifying and mechanical daily grind; a few moments or cherished minutes before the world imposes itself on me once again and I wade slowly with difficulty through its weight and resistance. I find myself whispered to that to hope for such a thing as a real dream to aspire towards is a silly fantasy. A day dream. Nothing more. I tell others of the dream and I am reticent to let the words leave my lips in case the mere telling of it and the potential of salvation will cause that dearest dream to disintegrate in the sharing of it with others in a world of almost totally alien incomprehension to what I value most. And then I remind myself that the whispers of doubt and dissent and dscouragement are all lies and that the whispers of the spirit, that swelling in the chest of a glorious sense of inarticulable deeper truth; such whispers fire my soul and I wish to follow them anywhere! Some day the great work will be accomplished and I pray we can live in a restored Earth or Heaven. If there is one then I think Arkle has glimpsed clearer views of this world than I have thus far.

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - I agree. This clearly was a revelatory vision of Arkle's - perhaps the main vision upon which his life's work was built: it seems to have been his first 'publication'. I have shared partial visions of something which probably was the same underlying reality - refracted through a different consciousness; and it is upon such direct experience of reality, and the conviction it brings, that Christian faith ought-to be built.