East or West?
by Circle or Line
Eze 43:1-7. Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever.
In Eze 10, God leaves His temple by the east gate. Here, he returns also by it. He is the God who leaves, and then comes back.
Why does he leave? Why is our temple destitute? Why do our minds wander without any certainty? Why is there no relief from the suffering of our bodies? Why was there a fall? In the Old Testament, the primary sin is idolatry. God leaves His temple, because we have forgotten Him. But why was He forgotten?
We are surrounded by King Davids. Our luxuries pile up like autumn leaves. Diseases vanish like phantoms. There is a human footprint on the face of the moon. One of my teachers is fond of saying: “You want to know what omniscience is? Google it”. Tikun olam is re-membered and the Judeans are still united with the Israelites. We are as rich as Solomon in his Kingdom.
Yet like Solomon in 1Ki 11, we forget Him. We forget because we long to forget, we yearn to forget, the way a man yearns for a woman, the way a seed longs to be planted into the tomb of the earth, the way a starving man seeks food or an alcoholic craves wine. We have no strength to be abstinent.
Our temple is a mirror image of Ezekiel’s. We enter our churches, the body of our Mother, not by an east gate, but by a west door, or West Front. After we enter by the west door, we pray the liturgy of the Word, expectantly. But after that, we approach via the nave the easternmost part of the temple, the East End, where there is an altar.
At that most final place, we can go no further. We learn of the God who leaves, the God who leaves by the east gate. When He leaves He says “why have you forgotten me?” (G1459. ἐγκαταλείπω. egkataleipō. eng-kat-al-i’-po. From G1722 and G2641; to leave behind in some place, that is, (in a good sense) let remain over, or (in a bad one) to desert: – forsake, leave).
And when “it is finished”, God allows us to forget Him. The seeds fall into the ground. The ground eats them up. Eze 10:19. And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the LORD, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. Eze 11:23. And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city.
But we are also told why we did this – to remember. We hear: “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance”. (1Co 11:24). When God says “remembrance”, his “glory” returns through the east gate. Our mind meets him there. We have a remembrance of what we longed to forget. He is the God who leaves and then comes back. With Solomon’s wisdom the seeds were made to die inside the ground, then come back to life when they remember the sun.
But even though we possess a remembrance, His body is not yet truly re-membered. Only His idea, His “glory”, comes by the east gate, but God Himself cannot remain there. He must proceed to His throne, in the inner court, which is in the west of the temple. And in the west of our churches is the door by which we entered, to go back out.
We can only truly re-member His body when the soles of our feet walk on the earth outside. At the moment we leave the temple, our Mother, the King is seated on His throne again. Only then can it be said: “He is not here, but has risen”. (Luk 24:6). As He is risen, so no-one can any longer find us within the temple either. Only then, His body blooms unbroken, and re-membered.
The temple is the church, the church is Judah, Judah is the mind and the mind is a tomb. We are safe there. It is comfortable. It is a place where it is safe to forget, and then remember. But it is not a place of re-membering His body. In the mind we can only remember an idea, a glory, and then forget it again.
But when we leave by the west door and encounter the Israelites, something we had desired to be utterly other than our own mind, we can re-member that there is nothing utterly other than our own mind.
We only finally posses our real body when we re-member what we once longed to forget: “This is my body”.