The tree of knowledge was the tree of reason.
That’s why the taste of it
drove us from Eden. That fruit
was meant to be dried and milled to a fine powder
for use a pinch at a time, a condiment.
God had probably planned to tell us later
about this new pleasure.

We stuffed our mouths full of it,
gorged on but and if and how and again
but, knowing no better.
It’s toxic in large quantities, fumes
swirled in our heads and around us
to form a dense cloud that hardened to steel,
a wall between us and God, Who was Paradise.

Not that God is unreasonable—but reason
in such excess was tyranny
and locked us into its own limits, a polished cell
reflecting our own faces. God lives
on the other side of that mirror,
but through the slit where the barrier doesn’t
quite touch ground, manages still
to squeeze in—as filtered light,
splinters of fire, a strain of music heard
then lost, then heard again.

The Miracle

Don’t wait for some miracle to be performed on you from without, lifting you above your fears and doubts and self-centeredness. You help God from within by turning in outgoing love to others, and miraculously your fears and doubts and self-centeredness will vanish. The miracle starts within, not from without.

Do Not Complain

Do not quarrel with your lot in life. Do not complain of its never-ceasing cares, its petty environment, the vexations you have to stand, the small and sordid souls you have to live and work with. Above all, do not resent temptation; do not be perplexed because it seems to thicken round you more and more, and ceases neither for effort nor for agony nor prayer. That is your practice. That is the practice which God appoints you; and it is having its work in making you patient and humble and generous and unselfish and kind and courteous. Do not grudge the hand that is molding the still too shapeless image within you. It is growing more beautiful, though you see it not; and every touch of temptation may add to its perfection.

Inward and Outward

Just as we are committed to being on an inward journey for all of time, so are we committed to being on an outward journey, so that the inner and the outer become related to one another and one has meaning for the other and helps to make the other possible…. If engagement with ourselves does not push back horizons so that we see neighbors we did not see before, then we need to examine the appointment kept with self. If prayer does not drive us out into some concrete involvement at a point of the world’s need, then we must question prayer. If the community does not deliver us from false securities and safe opinions and known ways, then we must cry out against that community, for it betrays.

Spiritual and Practical

Most of our conflicts and difficulties come from trying to deal with the spiritual and practical aspects of our life separately instead of realizing them as parts of one whole. If our practical life is centered on our own interests, cluttered up by possessions, distracted by ambitions, passions, wants and worries, beset by a sense of our own rights and importance, or anxieties for our own future, or longings for our own success, we need not expect that our spiritual life will be a contrast to all this. The soul’s house is not built on such a convenient plan; there are few sound-proof partitions in it.