Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. When the Divine Intervenes

 

Let me say a bit about my relationship with G-d. I’m not a mystic, nor do I have out-of-body experiences. In terms of Orthodox Judaism, I am not a disciplined practitioner. I don’t have “conversations” with G-d, and I don’t formally pray to Him very often. But over the years, I’ve learned—I’ve experienced—that He is present in my life.

In this post, I won’t talk about G-d’s intervention or lack of involvement in the greater world. I don’t have answers for when He does intervene directly, nor do I know why. In fact, I think it is the height of absurdity for us to try to figure out the mind of G-d, except to know what He expects from us. I assume that His actions, motives, and goals are beyond my ken, and I think I have more sensible things to try to learn and understand in this lifetime.

Since I won’t speculate on divine intervention in the world, I can only share what I myself experience. I must first say that none of this makes me special or, for you cynics, crazy. Everyone has access to G-d, but we have to be open to the experience. It took me a while to arrive where I am because I’m the more rational, grounded type of believer. In other words, I needed an occasional swat with a divine two-by-four to get my attention. Over time, in spite of occasional lapses, G-d got through to me, or I opened up sufficiently to experience Him. Now I find myself regularly expressing silent gratitude and experiencing humility that I find myself in this time and place.

So what is that experience like?—

Presence. When I am feeling centered, open and non-defensive, I feel G-d’s presence; it is sometimes subtle, but there nonetheless. And I don’t know how to describe that except that it is a non-aloneness, an almost tangible quality of relatedness.

Meditation. Although I practice a limited amount of formal Jewish prayer, I invite G-d into my meditative moments. When I am calm and silent in my heart, there is a fullness and peacefulness that I feel. I begin my meditation with the Shema and then pray for the health and well-being of those whom I love and care for. I sometimes get topics for posts. I don’t think G-d cares so much about my next OP, but one way I serve Him is through my writing. Do all my divinely inspired ideas work out? I don’t know; I haven’t tracked them. But I do know that if I’m to be influenced, it’s when I’m still and silent enough to open to ideas.

Incidents. I think a fine example is a recent series of outcomes. I was delighted to learn that the writer, @richardharvester (as he identifies himself here at Ricochet), was coming to town (Poinciana, FL) so we agreed to schedule a book signing on April 9. These kinds of events usually require a lot of time to plan: advertising, room reservations, and I knew I would need to co-sponsor Richard with a large organization in this community. And it all fell into place. My neighbor is a member of Hadassah—she loved the idea and got the agreement of her co-president—done! Room reservation (which usually needs to be done months in advance) for the best room in our development—done! Advertising opportunities—closed-circuit TV channel, an announcement for our development’s magazine with looming deadlines: done! Now some of you will say it was luck or coincidence. It’s okay with me if you say that. But I would say it was divine intervention. Not on my behalf specifically, but because this event was intended to happen.

Why is any of this important? I know so many people who, in spite of being married or having many friends, feel they are traveling this world alone and isolated. In one sense we all are. But in another sense, we are never alone. We only have to realize that truth for ourselves. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says, “Divine intervention changes nature, but it is human initiative—our approach to G-d—that changes us.”

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  1. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Lovely piece, SQ! Great “get” re: our Richard Harvester! Be prepared for minds and hearts to be opened…Enjoy!

    • #1
    • March 3, 2018, at 6:22 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Somebody give me a gift subscription so I can like this post more than once.

    • #2
    • March 3, 2018, at 6:27 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):
    Lovely piece, SQ! Great “get” re: our Richard Harvester! Be prepared for minds and hearts to be opened…Enjoy!

    Thanks, Nanda. It certainly is a great opportunity! He’s a delightful man and I’m so glad we can do have him come.

    • #3
    • March 3, 2018, at 6:29 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Percival (View Comment):
    Somebody give me a gift subscription so I can like this post more than once.

    Oh, Percival, you are so sweet! I was a little nervous about it due to an angry reaction a few years ago by a commenter–he thought I was arrogant and obviously couldn’t make up my mind about religion. (This was when I was first returning to Judaism.) I actually handled the situation okay, but I was stunned by his reaction. If people disagree with me, I hope we can have a good conversation about it!

    • #4
    • March 3, 2018, at 6:31 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    Somebody give me a gift subscription so I can like this post more than once.

    Oh, Percival, you are so sweet! I was a little nervous about it due to an angry reaction a few years ago by a commenter–he thought I was arrogant and obviously couldn’t make up my mind about religion. (This was when I was first returning to Judaism.) I actually handled the situation okay, but I was stunned by his reaction. If people disagree with me, I hope we can have a good conversation about it!

    If your mind is made up, your probably not doing it right.

    (There. How’s that for “mysticism?”)

    • #5
    • March 3, 2018, at 7:36 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    All of my life, I have prayed and heard no plain answers. But I have seen many signs. And I have felt His peaceful presence, as you say.

    Because the Lord is a Person and not a mere force, His responses are not regular and predictable effects like physical laws. Like any person, He relates to each other person particularly, uniquely. For some there are words. For others, silence is not neglect. They will know Him in other ways. He is not so limited as we are in expression.

    You cannot see the wind. You see only what the wind moves. God is forever moving through the world. Sometimes it is a gale and sometimes it is a whisper. It is easy to miss a gentle breeze as it graces one’s back. But when it is noticed, that refreshing whisper can become the only thing in the world.

    • #6
    • March 3, 2018, at 8:38 PM PST
    • 19 likes
  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    By the way, in how many great moments of fiction — in novels, in movies — is it shown what a powerful message silent presence can be?

    When there are no words, no words are needed. In sadness and in joy, sometimes a smile, a hug, a hand on a shoulder, even a look can say more than enough. At funerals and weddings, at family dinners and friendly get-togethers, just showing up is appreciated. And when the people we love are silenced by illness or senility, how strongly do we express love by our presence alone?

    When our Lord and Creator, our Savior, our Father chooses to make His presence known, it is no small consolation. It is the Light which makes all the world worth seeing.

    • #7
    • March 3, 2018, at 9:09 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  8. Profile Photo Member

    Thank you for this post, Susan. When I was younger, I used to feel God’s presence on a pretty regular basis. The most dramatic instance was when I worked with an 80 year old dishwasher in Hawaii name Bernardo; Bernardo and I only spoke once or twice, in passing. I have no idea what his religious beliefs, if any, were-he was from the Phillipines, so I assume that he was Catholic, but all I really know about him was that he was an incredibly hard worker, and an incredibly happy man. And whenever I stood next to him, it felt as though the weight of the world was taken off of my shoulders; the peace and love that I felt in his presence was so overwhelming that I had to fight back tears, which is strange for me, because I am not usually given to crying. The closer I was to him physically, the stronger the feeling would get. I wondered if I was the only person who was having this experience, so I would say things to various co workers, like “Bernardo is really incredible, isn’t he?” They all just smiled and gave me weird looks. But then one day, one of the cooks was railing against the injustices of this world, and as part of his rant, he mentioned Bernardo: he said that Bernardo had no power. The head chef shook his head, and said “Bernardo doesn’t need that kind of power.” Without even thinking about it, I blurted out “Bernardo is a saint”, and the head chef smiled and nodded in agreement. We never discussed it beyond that, but I suspect that I am not the only person who felt a heavenly presence in Bernardo’s presence.

    Stuff like that used to happen to me, over 20 years ago. It has been a very long time since I have experienced anything like that. I very much relate to the apostle Thomas: I believe because I have seen. That isn’t something to be proud of, but it’s the best that some of us can do. I have no idea why some people have mystical experiences and other don’t, but if everyone in that restaurant had felt what I felt standing next to Bernardo, we would have gone off the deep end, so that might explain part of it. I feel very blessed to have had several mystical experiences, but my understanding is that in Christian teaching, those who don’t have mystical experiences are on a higher spiritual plane than those of us who do. “Blessed are those who have not seen, and believe.”

    • #8
    • March 3, 2018, at 9:25 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  9. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    @susanquinn You know Joy Behar may consider you mad.

    • #9
    • March 3, 2018, at 10:01 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  10. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    Somebody give me a gift subscription so I can like this post more than once.

    Oh, Percival, you are so sweet! I was a little nervous about it due to an angry reaction a few years ago by a commenter–he thought I was arrogant and obviously couldn’t make up my mind about religion. (This was when I was first returning to Judaism.) I actually handled the situation okay, but I was stunned by his reaction. If people disagree with me, I hope we can have a good conversation about it!

    I have some beliefs about these things but like all my opinions I say I’m not married to them. I’m ready to change any opinion on any subject, based on Scripture (rightly understood), logic and experience; those three in that order in descending value. I never give much if any consideration to mass opinion or even the opinions expressed by friends or others unless they either back it up with evidence OR it makes logical sense to me. I’m careful when making a turn around change, taking time to study and ruminate on the matter. If it’s just a minor modification I can change more quickly if that seems appropriate. I find it important to believe what I believe as fully as I can while also being open to new information, new to me.
    For me, that approach helps me be unoffended when someone disagrees with me even if they aren’t polite about it. What they have to say has less impact with me if they are flame throwers as that seems to indicate they aren’t really confident in their positions I think. But I do try to understand what those that disagree with my opinions have to say and consider whether I should modify anything or not, based not on the fact that someone disagreed but whether facts, information, have modified my understanding. This is just the best I can do as a mortal not having complete knowledge or understanding.
    I don’t claim to have been perfect at this, it is a goal, sometimes achieved sometimes only approached, sometimes failed, something I work toward.

    • #10
    • March 4, 2018, at 4:20 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):
    @susanquinn You know Joy Behar may consider you mad.

    I hope so! That might be the pot calling the kettle black .

    • #11
    • March 4, 2018, at 4:27 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Profile Photo Member

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    I very much relate to the apostle Thomas: I believe because I have seen. That isn’t something to be proud of, but it’s the best that some of us can do.

    • #12
    • March 4, 2018, at 4:35 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  13. Saint Augustine Member

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    . . . those who don’t have mystical experiences are on a higher spiritual plane than those of us who do. “Blessed are those who have not seen, and believe.”

    Interesting. Maybe even correct!

    You know, I did a post on that verse a while back. I eventually expanded the analysis into a scholarly article of some sort. It may eventually be published.

    Religion and science are not the same thing, but we usually miss the real different between them. I don’t have a lot of scientific experience myself; I’ve done precious few of the experiments. I still know that electrons exist and that vaccinations work. I know because of experience–the experience of others.

    Which others’ experience matters the most? Who, extending the analogy, are the scientists who can give us really good religious knowledge? Eliezer Berkovits gives his answer (which is correct), and does not neglect to mention that it can be verified (just as I may test, say, a flu vaccine for myself if I need to). C. S. Lewis likewise gives his answer (also correct), and says a little more about its verification. He and William James give a better explanation of the real difference between religion and science.

    • #13
    • March 4, 2018, at 4:54 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  14. Front Seat Cat Member

    You brought up a great point – we encounter God through silence and invitation. The world is noisy. It’s an effort sometimes to be quiet, but it means everything. I love that you were able to do all that for Richard – I hope you will post about it and it is a great success. Thanks for a very thoughtful post!

    • #14
    • March 4, 2018, at 5:41 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  15. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    All of my life, I have prayed and heard no plain answers. But I have seen many signs. And I have felt His peaceful presence, as you say.

    I struggle even with signs and presence. I yearn to feel the peace of the Lord, but struggle. It is so hard to be quiet. And with my current back issues, I cannot even hike, which is when I am the closest to just “being” instead of doing and thinking.

    Every moment of feeling His Presence is a gift beyond measure.

    • #15
    • March 4, 2018, at 6:01 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  16. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn:Now some of you will say it was luck or coincidence. It’s okay with me if you say that. But I would say it was divine intervention. Not on my behalf specifically, but because this event was intended to happen.

    I’m basically a skeptic that chooses to believe God exists, not because I’ve seen His hand at work in my circumstances but just because it seems the more logical of the two choices: random chance has created order or Someone did it. If I never get to where you are in your Faith I’ll be satisfied but I’d never say I will not do so, I may. Faith is the evidence of things hoped for the substance of things not seen. But what a man hath why does he yet hope for? If we had complete knowledge there would be no room for faith. Still, I mostly construct the faith I posses on the basis of what I see and understand. For some that is heretical. I’m unconvinced by such arguments.
    I can easily see the logic in both approaches to your example: 1) A fortunate convergence of unlikely events leading to a desired and pleasant outcome. 2) The intervention of Divine will in temporal events to accomplish His ultimate will despite the odds.
    Both are equally arguable from a logical examination, I believe. Neither can be ultimately proven true or false given our limited knowledge and understanding not to mention the limitations of time.
    I do not write these things to either denigrate your faith nor would I do so if I believed I could in any way damage your faith. I applaud your faith, I admire it. My faith is different, it may even be inferior, but I come by it honestly. It is what I can do, at least at the present time. I seek no converts but neither can I be converted except by Scripture, logic and experience viewed through the lens of my own limited ability to reason. That is why I highly value your posts. They regularly expose me to concepts that are at least marginally new to me. That and only that is the way I can continue to grow in understanding.
    So thank you, you contribute greatly to benefit me at some cost to yourself (time) and no cost to me. That is true Charity.

    • #16
    • March 4, 2018, at 6:13 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  17. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn: I don’t think G-d cares so much about my next OP, but one way I serve Him is through my writing.

    I think inviting G-d into ALL the little stuff makes for a more complete and deep relationship. The more you welcome Him into your life, the more he will talk to you with implanted ideas during meditation/prayer.

    • #17
    • March 4, 2018, at 6:26 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    OkieSailor (View Comment):
    I do not write these things to either denigrate your faith nor would I do so if I believed I could in any way damage your faith. I applaud your faith, I admire it. My faith is different, it may even be inferior, but I come by it honestly. It is what I can do, at least at the present time. I seek no converts but neither can I be converted except by Scripture, logic and experience viewed through the lens of my own limited ability to reason. That is why I highly value your posts. They regularly expose me to concepts that are at least marginally new to me. That and only that is the way I can continue to grow in understanding.
    So thank you, you contribute greatly to benefit me at some cost to yourself (time) and no cost to me. That is true Charity.

    You honor me greatly with your kind words, @okiesailor. And I don’t think faith can be “evaluated” as inferior or superior. I didn’t set out to get closer to G-d. I had a natural inclination to sense His presence, long before I practiced Zen Buddhism. And my Zen meditation brought me even closer! But now my Judaism has brought me ever closer, because there is purpose in serving Him. Which makes me want to serve others. I’m sitting here tearful; that you suggest my writing is helpful is all I could wish for. And as long as you leave the door open to a deepening faithful, all is possible.

    • #18
    • March 4, 2018, at 6:56 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    iWe (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I don’t think G-d cares so much about my next OP, but one way I serve Him is through my writing.

    I think inviting G-d into ALL the little stuff makes for a more complete and deep relationship. The more you welcome Him into your life, the more he will talk to you with implanted ideas during meditation/prayer.

    I’m deeply moved by your comment, @iwe. You have been instrumental, as has your family, in encouraging me. Your own deep faith is an inspiration, as is your book. Thank you.

    • #19
    • March 4, 2018, at 6:58 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  20. Front Seat Cat Member

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    All of my life, I have prayed and heard no plain answers. But I have seen many signs. And I have felt His peaceful presence, as you say.

    I struggle even with signs and presence. I yearn to feel the peace of the Lord, but struggle. It is so hard to be quiet. And with my current back issues, I cannot even hike, which is when I am the closest to just “being” instead of doing and thinking.

    Every moment of feeling His Presence is a gift beyond measure.

    Bryan, Have you tried a chiropractor who uses the activator method? Also – the minor invasive spinal surgery through The Spinal Institute? I’m not sure what your issues are. I haven’t had surgery, but with scoliosis, I can relate, and have been seeing chiropractors for 27 years – I feel like Humpty Dumpty when I go and when I leave, i feel like a gymnast. When you find one that works and I have been to many, it really helps. Also supplements for pain like glucosamine and fish oil gummies, and jello for strengthening those discs. Try some light stretches on a yoga mat and ice packs.

    God bless.

    • #20
    • March 4, 2018, at 3:19 PM PST
    • 1 like
  21. Front Seat Cat Member

    OkieSailor (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:Now some of you will say it was luck or coincidence. It’s okay with me if you say that. But I would say it was divine intervention. Not on my behalf specifically, but because this event was intended to happen.

    I’m basically a skeptic that chooses to believe God exists, not because I’ve seen His hand at work in my circumstances but just because it seems the more logical of the two choices: random chance has created order or Someone did it. If I never get to where you are in your Faith I’ll be satisfied but I’d never say I will not do so, I may. Faith is the evidence of things hoped for the substance of things not seen. But what a man hath why does he yet hope for? If we had complete knowledge there would be no room for faith. Still, I mostly construct the faith I posses on the basis of what I see and understand. For some that is heretical. I’m unconvinced by such arguments.
    I can easily see the logic in both approaches to your example: 1) A fortunate convergence of unlikely events leading to a desired and pleasant outcome. 2) The intervention of Divine will in temporal events to accomplish His ultimate will despite the odds.
    Both are equally arguable from a logical examination, I believe. Neither can be ultimately proven true or false given our limited knowledge and understanding not to mention the limitations of time.
    I do not write these things to either denigrate your faith nor would I do so if I believed I could in any way damage your faith. I applaud your faith, I admire it. My faith is different, it may even be inferior, but I come by it honestly. It is what I can do, at least at the present time. I seek no converts but neither can I be converted except by Scripture, logic and experience viewed through the lens of my own limited ability to reason. That is why I highly value your posts. They regularly expose me to concepts that are at least marginally new to me. That and only that is the way I can continue to grow in understanding.
    So thank you, you contribute greatly to benefit me at some cost to yourself (time) and no cost to me. That is true Charity.

    You might enjoy CS. Lewis book called Mere Christianity – he was once an atheist – his writing is phenomenal.

    • #21
    • March 4, 2018, at 3:23 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  22. Front Seat Cat Member

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):
    @susanquinn You know Joy Behar may consider you mad.

    Not in a good way – because anyone of faith these days is considered bonkers and mad by today’s standards – then we know we’re on the right track……

    • #22
    • March 4, 2018, at 3:25 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  23. Profile Photo Member

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):
    @susanquinn You know Joy Behar may consider you mad.

    Matthew 5:11

    “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

    • #23
    • March 4, 2018, at 3:52 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  24. doulalady Member
    doulalady Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    There’s never been a time on my life when I did not feel the presence of G-d. Also my prayers have always been answered. And yet I have to remind myself to pray.

    More and more my days seem to be about remembering to orient myself towards Him which is difficult in all the busyness.

    Maybe it can only be achieved within the contemplative life and right now I have my earthly responsibilities and they need to be attended to with just as much diligence.

    But the balance, where is it?

    • #24
    • March 4, 2018, at 5:41 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    doulalady (View Comment):
    There’s never been a time on my life when I did not feel the presence of G-d. Also my prayers have always been answered. And yet I have to remind myself to pray.

    More and more my days seem to be about remembering to orient myself towards Him which is difficult in all the busyness.

    Maybe it can only be achieved within the contemplative life and right now I have my earthly responsibilities and they need to be attended to with just as much diligence.

    But the balance, where is it?

    I think it’s in small moments, @doulalady. When you sit down to catch your breath, just before you begin a meal, before you turn off the lights at bedtime. Even just before you turn the key in your car, or just before you leave the car. Sense Him in smaller snatches, for this time of your life.

    • #25
    • March 4, 2018, at 5:52 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Sense Him in smaller snatches, for this time of your life.

    And, ask Him to help you see/find Him *in the midst* of the everyday…The Desert Fathers often referred to “arrow prayers”: a line from a psalm, the Kyrie, the Name of Jesus, for just such everyday busyness as you describe. Don’t forget that each breath is a prayer of thanks for existence, and a taking-in of the Presence, too…Peace be with you!

    • #26
    • March 4, 2018, at 6:21 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    doulalady (View Comment):
    There’s never been a time on my life when I did not feel the presence of G-d. Also my prayers have always been answered. And yet I have to remind myself to pray.

    More and more my days seem to be about remembering to orient myself towards Him which is difficult in all the busyness.

    Maybe it can only be achieved within the contemplative life and right now I have my earthly responsibilities and they need to be attended to with just as much diligence.

    But the balance, where is it?

    I am envious.

    • #27
    • March 5, 2018, at 7:54 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  28. Manny Member

    I share many of the experiences you outlined here. It’s been about nine or ten years since my religious conversion, and so I have a good idea of what I was like before and after. I think when you’re not particularly religious, one becomes insensitive to the divine presence. Or you just never see it. When one prays regularly, one becomes attuned to His calls and His activities. I’m reminded of the Gerard manly Hopkins opening line to his poem, “God’s Grandeur,” “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

    • #28
    • March 5, 2018, at 9:53 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Manny (View Comment):
    I share many of the experiences you outlined here. It’s been about nine or ten years since my religious conversion, and so I have a good idea of what I was like before and after. I think when you’re not particularly religious, one becomes insensitive to the divine presence. Or you just never see it. When one prays regularly, one becomes attuned to His calls and His activities. I’m reminded of the Gerard manly Hopkins opening line to his poem, “God’s Grandeur,” “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

    Lovely to hear, Manny. Thanks.

    • #29
    • March 5, 2018, at 1:03 PM PST
    • 2 likes

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