I won’t claim to be a writer, though I like to write. I found the imagery below by St. Isaac the Syrian to be an intriguing way of seeing one’s life – a draft document, a work in progress. Of course he wrote in a day and a age when once something was in print, it was cast in stone and not easy to change. He did not know the joy of the electronic document which can forever be updated, corrected and improved. Despite what technology makes possible, there still is a sense that when something moves from its electronic form to its hard copy print form it becomes more permanent, indelible. St. Isaac though when referring to a document seems to have in mind official government documents – in his time it would have been imperial documents with the king’s seal. The documents he is thinking of in his metaphor become official decrees and laws of the empire. But this imagery has some value to us as we consider God’s Book of Life is an imperial document with the kingdom being that of Heaven. There is a permanency to the document – once officially issued, decreed, it will remain what it is forever. Until that time however, we have the ability to change, alter, and improve the story of our life.
God is the author of the book known as the universe, but each of us co-authors with God our lives. (I’ve also been intrigued by those scientists inspired by our new found ability to read the genetic code who have suggested that in that genetic code and in the human genome we can really see the hand of God with the code being a script recording what was happening to humanity through the vast time in which our ancestors have been part of t his world.)
God is writing the book of the universe’s existence, but allows each of us to write our own chapters within the Book. As St. Isaac has it the book of our life is for a short while in our hands, and we have the ability to add good things to it. It is marvelous imagery about how we co-operate with God and shape some of the details which God incorporates into His book of life.
“Our way of life in this world resembles a document that is still in draft form: things can be added or taken out, and alterations can be made, whenever one wants. But life in the world to come resembles the case of completed documents that have the king’s seal already upon them, and no addition or subtraction can be made. While we are still here, where changes can be made, let us take a look at ourselves, and while we still have control over the book of our life, and it is in our hands, let us be eager to add to it by means of a good life-style, and delete from it the defects of our former life-style.” (THE WISDOM OF ST ISAAC OF NINEVEH, p 22)