St John’s Festival contemplations continue
What earthly use are these words? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What is John the Baptist saying to human beings who whiz around the world in planes, trains, ships and cars using computerised components and devouring the planet’s limited fuel supply? Perhaps he is speaking in a doomsday sense.
But, if you know me, you will now be waiting to hear what else John’s words could mean. Repenting isn’t about being sorry or regretful. Repent, metanoeo, literally means to perceive (noeo) afterwards (meta). It implies that we can see the results of our actions before we act. This assists us to change the way we behave because we see what effects it will have. Wouldn’t life be different if we never had to say, “I wish I had never said that?” This sounds a bit like cheating, like looking underneath the card before we turn it over.
Then we might wonder where heaven comes into it. Ouranos is the Greek word for heaven and this word speaks of a rising up, like a mountain rises up. It is speaking of raising our consciousness. This can only happen when we become the ruler of the kingdom, when we control our feelings, thoughts and intentions. ‘At hand’ is eggizo which means near. So what John is essentially saying is that we should raise our consciousness above our instinctive soul – the region where we feel, think and have intentions – and use our higher faculties, our spiritual Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition which make us aware of the consequences of our habitual behaviour. It is like looking into our personal crystal ball every time we wonder what to do!