So finally what does surrender to God look like?
The other important aspect of the flow of presence is that it must be rooted in actual human experience; in other words if human thought does not confirm the experience then it is not relevant. So we have here the existential reality of personal experience – as is confirmed by the accounts of Roberta Bondi, Harry Williams, Carl Jung and Etty Hillesum. This is about our consciousness, our soul awareness, and when we are open to the flow of presence we find ourselves in a place in which the transcendent and the imminent meet. This is what Eric Voegelin calls the sphere of the ‘in-between’; in-between the timeless or eternal and the time of imminent time.
Here then consciousness, our experience at that moment holds the tension between these two opposite states. Always Voegelin believed the soul is potentially able to feel the divine presence, the presence of the Unseen moving the person. If we can be open to this then there is surrender in the form of moments of spiritual growth.
In his collected works Voegelin understands that truth then is this process of knowing the reality that we are in and that the reality always involves the flowing presence of the divine. He writes: ‘The In-Between … is not an empty space … but the realm of the spiritual … the mutual participation of human in divine and divine in human reality.’ He saw that the mental quest was to be open, or as open as possible so then the spiritual search becomes a transition of the psyche from mortality to immortality. Personal and collective history both then consist not of concrete happenings in world-time but are the divine-human encounters in the flowing presence.
The idea is for open existence and to become an open self which seems to be about connectedness and inter-dependence – to be willing as Etty Hillesum puts it, open and receptive to life.
So perhaps then surrender to God looks like an opening up and an attunement to the divine presence but allowing the presence to master us. Poetry often says these things so much better than prose.
Thou mastering me
God! Giver of breath and bread:
World’s strand, sway of the sea;
Lord of living and dead;
Thou hast bound bones and veins in me,
Fastened me flesh,
And after it almost unmade, what with dread,
Thy doing; and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.
Gerard Manley Hopkins