An Excerpt from The Soul's Journey: Exploring the Spiritual Life with Dante as Guide by Alan Jones

Alan Jones explores the mysteries of self, mutuality and God in The Soul's Journey. Here is a thought-provoking passage on the spiritual practice of vision.

" 'The vision of God' is an odd expression. I've used it for years without having much of a clue to its real meaning. We can get some idea of what the expression signifies by thinking about our lives in stark terms of mortality and meaninglessness. Some go to their deaths in denial — wondering what happened. They have no sense that life is a series of passages, all related to one another in the form of a story. Life seems more of a futile catastrophe than a movement through a narrative. The once powerful are rendered powerless, and those of us left alive realize that it is better to be 'a live dog than a dead lion.' Others catch a glimpse of the bigger picture. Looking back over their lives, they are able to say to themselves, 'Ah! That's where I've been. That's who I am!' Their lives are given a focus and goal because they were able to see within it the lines of a story with three basic motifs: being lost (separation), turning around (initiation), and finding home (return). They have a vision that they are part of a larger story — a more generous and expansive reality — than that of their own limited experience. Recovering the vision of God is a matter not only of recovering the narrative framework of our own lives, but (if we are in positions of power) of backing off and allowing others to have their story. These passages are not merely mine or yours: they are ours. 'Heaven' is making room for others and celebrating their significance. There is no humanity without story, no narrative without God. There are no stories without storytellers, and storytellers are not always reliable. The whole purpose of the journey is the reordering of the imagination in the direction of an all-inclusive story."