Living in the Vestibule

Proper 23 (year A)
“the wedding garment”

Narthex, Vezelay, Pentecost Tympanum

Rabbi Jacob said:

“This world is like a vestibule before the world to come.
Prepare yourself in the vestibule for the meeting in the banquet hall!”

He used to say:

“One hour of repentance and good deeds in this world
is better than the whole life of the world to come;
but one hour of comfort in the world to come
is better than the whole life of this world!”

Mishna, Abot 4.16-17

Is life on earth the narthex or “vestibule” for the kingdom to come? And do we create heaven in a metaphysical sense by what we do with life on earth?  Imagine a kingdom of consciousness created by our choices and patterns today and in the moment, not just individually, but collectively. It’s why we need prophets who look at the whole of a trend of a culture, (say, greed), and draw attention to it, (say, from a park near Wall Street).

Repent. The Kingdom of God is near!  Are we co-creating the kingdom as a place of peace and justice and beauty? Or more like the environmental disaster we’re creating in the vestibule while the Holy One weeps over the Beloved’s wasted vineyard?

Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence. -Wendell Berry

One Response to “Living in the Vestibule”

  1. claire Says:

    I read this today: “At any moment the fully present mind can shatter time and burst into Now.” David Steindl-Rast, A Listening Heart.
    So in a way making a differentiation between this life and next life may be just a way of ensuring that we get stuck here…
    I do believe we co-create the kingdom. Can we control our co-creation? I am not sure. Is a good intention with a bad result helping the Kingdom just by its goodness?
    I want to think that we will all pull in the direction of saving the environment… How will we do that? I am not sure. Maybe by acting and believing that it will indeed happen.
    Thank you for a nice image of the narthex as the vestibule to the world to come 🙂

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