Did you notice that my quest to find the kingdom of God that is said to lie within began and ended with denying one’s self for love?


When God’s Son, Jesus, said NO to His own desire to keep walking around this old earth with His friends, healing people and amazing them and He sweated blood thinking about being hung, He denied Himself to do what His Father sent Him to do. That is to die for love of humankind, for our immortal life in the kingdom of God.


After wandering the face of the earth and my heart seeking God’s kingdom, I suddenly remembered that the only time I had ever glimpsed such an amazing place was when I decided to do what I knew would make me unhappy for the sake of love. It was an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny crucifixion but it opened the gates to a spectacular kingdom.


God loves circles.


Aspiring immortals who love God so much more than we love ourselves, our pride, even our opinions, are the ones who are invited to experience the kingdom of God within and the future one. My sad realization was that I can only possibly experience the inner kingdom if I end my search for it and instead spend more time yielding my will to God’s Will even if it kills me.


Even though the kingdom of God is surely within me, I am not allowed to go in and out of there whenever it pleases me. That sacred city, like a holy altar will open its gates to me when the Lord allows it to. Not a minute before.


Meanwhile, at the center of the inner kingdom of Evangeline also dwell other people and I am sure even a few fairies and angels. So, for now I can visit them whenever I want. Every night this week, when the sun has gone and darkness lets me rest, I have visited my father.


Jesus and I have this in common. We love our fathers.


My father led a life rich in love and suffering. His intimate relationship with suffering probably began on that cold February evening when he was a boy of ten who had just learned that his adoring mother, who went to buy them cupcakes, was killed by a car. I didn’t know that boy, but I know that his own strong and holy father taught him how to live when life was severe, and how to love the Lord. Day after sorrowful day young Charley listened to his father’s songs coming up from the basement kitchen, love songs to his departed wife, songs his dad composed as he cooked for his family of eight. My father told me that when he was a teenager he studied character, and how he measured up. No wonder Dad became such a strong and beloved man.


The Charley I knew was also a single father because of my mother’s psychological illness. How he suffered from her disease, bitter conflict and loneliness; so tormented was he that he even lost his business and his fortune. Rather than relieve himself of his obligations with bankruptcy, Charley shut down the business and worked for others to pay every last debt while his wife was in institutions and his teenage girls at home depended on him.


When cancer was his last torturer, dad wanted to keep on living, even if it meant to keep on suffering, for love of his girls. I’ll never forget the distressed look on his face when he realized that he would have to leave us and his fear that we would need him and he wouldn’t be here for us. He must have been remembering the bitter grief of his own mother-loss. The many times I did indeed need him and he wasn’t here, I had that look to remind me that his wish and will was not granted, so I went to Our Father who art in heaven for help.


It took me several years after he died to cry, so relieved was I that his suffering, not just the disease had finally ended. Dad tried to teach me how to deny myself on several occasions when I thought the fair thing to do was the thing I wanted most. He said the fair thing to do was what the other person wanted. And so on my first father’s day without him, my gift to my dad was to give away something that I wanted very much to keep.


My father didn’t just tell me that he loved me, he showed it. He showed me the value of suffering and the importance of reaching out to those you love. My dad is a worthy immortal who died to self over and over and over again. And so when seeking the inner kingdom of God, near the sacred and shut gates I spend time precious time with my father within. Thank you Dad.

My Quest

I know what you’re thinking. You think that when Jesus Christ said that the kingdom of God was within, He was speaking of goodness and joy, of love and peace and honesty and not of a place that is like the new earth to which He will usher us aspiring immortals at the end of the ages. You think I misunderstood and you have been too polite or too disinterested to tell me to my face.


Well, I have a confession to make and it’s true so I know what I’m saying. I have been there.


When I went I was not trying to go there because I didn’t know it existed. Neither did I know then that Jesus Christ said the kingdom of God was within. I thought my way there but it wasn’t my thoughts that sent me. God did, I’m sure of that.


It was February 1974. I had graduated from art school in December and was working a temp-job at the headquarters of Ginn’s Office Supply Company to earn enough money to go to Las Vegas to be with my best friend for the birth of her first child. My job was filing papers in densely packed cabinets. Almost every time I had to insert another sheet of paper my fingers were either cut or hurt from old cuts.


One day while standing at the open drawer I suddenly and without warning went to a blue light filled place. I felt euphoric; it was incredibly beautiful. I was there even as my body stood in front of the file cabinet at Ginns. I didn’t want to return. I also had no choice when I was sent back. I immediately tried to return by thinking the same thoughts that seemed to catapult me but nothing happened.


I think I know why God opened His gates to me, and that is why I know that a person must be invited and cannot enter by his or her own will.


I was young and pensive. I had recently come back home from a trip to England and Greece where I went to be with a young man who loved me. I had met George the summer of ‘73 in Greece. We played in the sun all day, water skiing, swimming, and sun bathing and at night we went to clubs with our friends and danced. When I returned for my final semester George wrote me love letters and called often. He lived in London and in Greece. He hadn’t gone to college because his father was a shipping magnate like Aristotle Onassis and George worked for him. He invited me to come to London for New Year’s Eve to meet his parents and then we would fly to Athens, to his condo.


In Athens I pretended that I was a rich wife. I dressed up every morning after he left for work and sat and read all day. The maid cooked and cleaned, and spied. I read CS Lewis’ the Screwtape Letters. That book taught me how to act peacefully and calm when George’s grandmother who lived next door came over to demand that I leave. Fortunately I had my uncle’s home to go to and then back to the States. George did not want to let me go, but the threats from his mother fought powerfully against young love.


Back in the States more calls and love letters came to me from poor sweet George who I grew to dislike for his weakness. At the time, I still thought that I had a choice of whether to return to George or move on.


Here I was, young and thinking that I could be the author of my life, a life for which I was desperately searching for meaning and purpose. I was now reading Neitche and Gide, not reading but drinking them in like water for a parched throat. They became companions of my impassioned mind.


In the young Greek Englishman I had found someone who was very different than my other friends having no college degree or even a driver’s license and being so dependent on his family and therefore easily controlled by them. I disliked his gossipy world and his dependence on his family, even his clinging to me. Having never been required to pay bills, his family money did not matter. What I liked about George was his purity and his innocence and his desire for me. I was torn like the ripped papers that refused to slide into the drawer, torn like the skin of my painful fingers.


What was the meaning and purpose of life? What was love? After weeks of reading and furiously writing out my thoughts in words and pictures that morning at Ginn’s I concluded that love was distasteful but the only true purpose for life. I concluded that I would sacrifice my own happiness for the sake of love, for surely I didn’t think I could be happy in George’s world. I would devote myself to love as the ultimate purpose, the ultimate lesson, and that commitment immediately opened to me if only for a moment, the inner kingdom of God.


George’s mother won. She hired someone to introduce him to Athenian prostitutes to distort his passion and threatened to disown him financially. It took a while but it worked. After Vegas, I went to teach art in Africa and eventually God gave me a poor young man who also loved me and gave me plenty of chances to practice denying myself for love.


I have never been granted a return to that light-filled place but I am always there in my memory of it. I now realize that the desire to go to the inner kingdom of God will never get me there because my yearning is self-centered. What a quandary.

The LaGuardia Lesson about the Inner Kingdom

There is one thing I want to know. Is it possible to go to the inner kingdom of God while sitting in an airport? I would so much rather be there than here. If I can go there at all, now would be a perfect time to figure out how. Maybe that is why I missed my flight and landed in LaGuardia for this wait. My Boss wanted me to see if I could go there when I hate where I am at the moment. Maybe I am usually too comfortable to go to the inner kingdom of God.

Usually I try to go to the inner kingdom of God in the middle of the night when I am in my comfy cozy bed and I can’t sleep. Since I have pretty much decided thanks to Mr. Freud that I can’t go there with my mind, I try to clear the room of my mind or I think about how wonderful God is, and pray hoping that I will somehow stumble upon the door and walk in. Unfortunately, I end up in a pool of random thoughts, or I fall asleep.

Now I am in a room filled with loud chatty people. On two sides glass walls separate us from a dense fog. It is so foggy that it looks like we are on an airplane travelling through clouds or waiting for the Judgment Seat. Here, I am not alone in my desire to be elsewhere. I am surrounded by hundreds of people who also want to go somewhere else, some want to go to Dayton, others to Syracuse. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if the lady announced that the next flight will take us to the inner kingdom of God! All aboard! I am jealous. At least these other people will end up where they want to be. Not me. Not by plane through the fog at least.

It looks like I am being shown all the ways how NOT to reach the inner kingdom of God. It’s apophatic! Apophatic reasoning is used to know God by what He is not because it is impossible to know God by what He is because He is so immense. God is not mean, or a liar, or small. And, I can’t reach the inner kingdom of God through my mind, in a sleepless bed, or by airplane.

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within and I believe Him. It would have been very helpful had He given us an idea of how to get there. Instead He described the kingdom of God in many oblique ways like the valuable pearl. Did He call it a pearl because it is born within? How beautiful.

Ahaa! I just thought of something. One reason why I am having such a hard time is that I am not trying to go to the kingdom of Evangeline, but that is where I always end up.

To go to God's kingdom, I must be invited even if that kingdom dwells inside of me. This reminds me of my pro-life argument. For the same reason that the inner baby should not be extinguished at the will of the outer mama, the inner kingdom of God is not beholden to the whim or will of the outer person.

Like the baby and the mama, God and I share this body. His kingdom within is a royal palace. I can clear my mind for hours, or I could praise and worship but if I am not invited in, I am as if stuck at the airport.

Lord, may I visit Your kingdom within me someday soon?