Here is what I believe: we receive that for which we hunger. He whose
longing is for riches, to him riches will flow. That man whose mind dwells
on things carnal will find a world of sensuality beyond his wildest imaginations.
These satisfactions are not without a price, however. For this one thing
I have seen: that a man not only receives that for which he longs, in the
end he always gets more than he bargained for.
My longing was for understanding. I hungered. I thirsted. And I believed my desire -- to grasp with my full consciousness the deep things of God that were hidden in the womb of this dark mystery -- would be satisfied.
Here is something else I believe: each of us is unique, with unique experiences
that enable us to discover things that no one else has ever thought about,
has ever heard, having never had our own experiences.
Our experiences, as well as their unique lessons, are not only ours to learn, they are ours to share. If, in fact, once having learned we fail to share, we are violating, even thwarting the purposes of God in His self-revelation. (Are there not sins of omission as serious and equally terrible as any we commit?)
Why do we hold back then? Because we believe we have nothing worthwhile to say? Because we believe everyone has these insights, this understanding?
Believe me, everyone does NOT have your insight. And the world is poorer by the very degree to which you keep silent.
Organize your thoughts; sift what you know, and present, then, your offering. Take courage. Honor God and speak! Spill out your heart! We are a world in darkness; we are in need of your light. In service to those who do not, can not, know the messages of life you bring: speak the words you alone can speak. Speak, that we may understand.
What follows here are the words I alone can speak, for the story of Samson and his struggles - with God, with himself, with obsession - is my story. That is to say: For this I was born, to listen and to hear, to record what I have heard, and to make an offering of this record to the world.
There are certain details of this story which I considered deleting,
for they will no doubt be the portions at which certain prudish persons
will take offense, and to which certain vulgar types of readers will most
avidly cleave until they have savored every last drop of satisfaction that
their defiled imaginations can extract. Instead, I have chosen to leave
all that I have remembered. These are confessions, not children's tales.
The beginning of my own personal illumination came during my imprisonment
at Gaza. Up until that time, I had been a self-centered youth, wholly engaged
in self-destructive behaviors which brought me a great deal of attention
but little self-satisfaction. Once garrisoned, I was assigned to the task
of taking care of a blind man, which included his feeding, clothing, bathing
and, from time to time, the dressing of his wounds. The privilege was all
mine, for this helpless man was Samson. Because of his fame, there is not
a Hebrew among us who did not know of his exploits, his mighty deeds, how
he led Israel for more than two decades before being betrayed and subdued.
There is a sense in which none of us can know the mind or plan of God with anything approaching certainty. Yet there are times and circumstances, upon which God has His hand, and we know by some inner knowing that, "Yes, this is God's arrangement." Such was my feeling in that prison, that having fallen so far, into such a darkened estate, I was not left abandoned, that there was yet hope for my life, that I might again know freedom, and joy.
The swarthy, weathered Samson I had first encountered was less than the
man I expected. I am not refering here to his punctured, sightless eyes.
He was only of modest physical stature, surpassing six feet in height by
half a hand's width at most. His forearms and biceps were certainly powerful,
but the overall impression was somewhat less than what the legends had led
me to imagine. It was difficult to connect the stories to the man.
Equally dissimilar was the interior Samson. I expected someone more spoiled and egocentric -- in all likelihood someone more like myself! -- or, more in keeping with a common stereotype we Hebrews have, a rather large dimwitted sort of fellow. I hardly expected the intelligence and sensitivity this man possessed. His mind was ever alert and active. Perhaps even too active. "I think too much," he was fond of saying, sometimes with a laugh, and sometimes with remorse.
For weeks I had been longing to ask the question, "How could a man
so wise, so seemingly intelligent and alert, have been so foolish, so stupid?
You knew this Delilah was only out to destroy you. How could you have shared
with her the secret of your strength? Wasn't it obvious, Samson, what she
was trying to do?"
I felt myself impertinent, but at this point it was the burning question. And that morning -- it was a bad dream I had which set the whole thing off -- I feared that we weren't going to be together that much longer. We had been sharing deeply many things up to this time, of God, of our hearts, of our understanding of life and its meanings, but I could not fathom how this great hero of our people had fallen so badly and so decisively. What kind of love is this that blinds one so utterly and completely to dangers and snares so clearly designed to undo him?
When I finally asked my question, Samson did not reply. For the whole of that afternoon he seemed buried in his thoughts, sad and absorbed. I had seen him get this way many times before, but now, this time even at supper he was silent, drawing around himself a barrier which I feared to penetrate. That night, too, hardly a word passed between us and I was disgusted with myself for my intrusiveness. Finally, when I could stand it no longer, I burst out, "I'm sorry I said anything. I'm sorry, it was foolish of me to stick my nose in your business. Please, forgive me."
He seized my arm and shook his head emphatically, his chestnut hair flying off from his shoulders (for it had been growing long again). "No, my young brother, it is a good question. It is the right question. It comes from the deep places of your heart. You long for understanding. Is this not a longing born of the Spirit of Yahweh? And is it not as God's agent that you ask this question? You have spoken God's word, my friend, and I am challenged. I cannot answer lightly and without deliberation. Yes, I have been giving it thought. Tomorrow I will tell you my story. Perhaps we will both learn something. It is always possible that no one can truly understand a fool in his folly. Still, I will speak of my life, as honestly and clearly as I am able, and in some small measure you will be satisfied with my answer."
More than ten years have passed since the shared experiences of that
Gaza prison. That is why Samson's story has been recorded here in such a
piecemeal way, for which I am solely to blame. As much as possible, I have
attempted to capture the actual flow of his thought and patterns of speech.
Where necessary, I have elaborated portions of stories where he had himself
previously painted a scene and did not embellish it when recounting this
last portrait of his life.
We were together for nearly six months, though many of those early months were spent in non-communicative brooding on both our parts. Over a period of time, as we shared more, we began discovering many parallels in our life journeys, which led us to a profound sense of brotherhood. In the end, Samson believed I had been sent by God to hear his final confessions.
After recounting the whole of his life in one final summation, after which we spent the rest of the night in prayer, the dawn broke with such splendor we could hardly help but sing with the birds who welcomed it. This was our last night together. That evening, Samson sacrificed his life with a feat that slaughtered three thousand Philistines in a single stroke, which was more than he had killed in all the years he had lived. Even in death, he amazed us.
Here is the story Samson told.
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