Don’t you just love finding a new author whose work you love? A few years ago a good friend introduced me to Irma Zaleski, and soon after that I was addicted. Born in 1931, Zaleski was educated in England after her family fled Poland during the Second World War. She now lives in Toronto, and unbeknownst to me before I started reading her books, is actually one of Canada’s most popular spiritual writers. Some of her titles, which I now happily own, are The Way of Repentance, Living the Jesus Prayer, Who Is God, Finding Christ Within, Who am I, Conversion of the Heart, God Is Not Reasonable and Mother Macrina.
Her books are short, with very brief chapters, which one might think would make for an easy, quick read. But I find that her writing is often so profound and thought-provoking that I have to sit and ponder and re-read almost every chapter. My journals are littered with quotes from her books. She never ceases to give me food for thought, and often opens the way to a deeper perspective of my beliefs, or sheds a new light on events in my life. She takes me up on the balcony and helps me see the “bigger view”.
I have read some of her books more than once, and they always seem to provide me with fresh insights. As you can tell by now, I’m a big fan. Because her books are so small and compact, I often have one tucked away in my bag, in case I am ever stuck in a line-up or a waiting room. Right now I am reading her 2001 book Door to Eternity (Novalis Press). Here’s a sample of her writing from Chapter Three:
“Belief in the possibility of coexistence of time and eternity lies at the root of all religion. Religion can be even, perhaps, defined as a path, or a “ladder” to such a coexistence. Christian teaching makes the truth of this belief absolutely clear. The creed, the liturgy, the sacraments, the icons, proclaim it: Christ, a man like us, born at a precise moment of history, living in a small corner of the Roman Empire, dying on the hill of Calvary, buried and risen on the third day, and Christ the Eternal Word, coexistent with the Father. Christ with us now, on earth, and Christ, already ascended into heaven, sitting in glory at the right hand of the Father. Christ the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, in whom time and eternity meet. And so it is with us. We are here, at this specific moment of our lives, still bowed down under the burden of our mortality, but the hour of our passing is already known and present to God, who is beyond time. We are already immersed in his glory and light. We have been baptized into Christ’s death and are buried with him, but we have also already risen with him and are with him in eternity, at home. This is the great mystery of faith, the reality of the eternal presence of God “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17: 28). Yet, because we cannot know it – because we cannot grasp it with our finite, human minds or see it with our earthly eyes – it appears to us as darkness and we are afraid.”