Which they themselves
Are incapable of
Not to languish
There, in the wishing
Or wresting otherwise —
But to abide,
With unclenched hands that
The welcoming wind;
And to move freely
Within the guilelessly
What flows forth
To stand in the center of one’s own nothingness in solitude before God is like attempting to hold one’s hand over a flame: it is nearly impossible to remain there for more than a few seconds without being overwhelmed by the pain and then withdrawing back to safety, where things are more comfortable. But go there we must. We have to lose ourselves in the furnace of this nothingness – and die. Trusting, of course, that we will be born again, and continually reborn, in the Spirit.
Addiction to the whirling often induced by love, but which is not love. And to your own understanding and perception of things, which is so limited – Let go of all of it . Truly, truly, it is really just a clinging to your own false light.
Step out over the edge of the precipice and into the Mystery – Behold! You are still walking…
Abide humbly in the Silence – Behold! It is a really a chorus of angels…
And above all, allow the pain to overwhelm you at times, swallow you whole, like the whale. God’s holy ones are precisely those who abandon themselves to this great process, this great, eternal working. They relinquish themselves up to ever greater, ever wider, ebbs and flows, falling in love, even, with the stretching, the hollowing out, the dying and the rising again.
The “old man” in us always wants to contain the pain, hoping (vainly) that in so doing we will not have to die. But what we are invited to is precisely to die – to relinquish, not to contain. And so remember: “All manner of things shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.” This is the madness of the Peace to which we are called, and it takes root it in the depths of our being in proportion to the depths of our darkness, and uncertainty.
The saints are the greatest romantics of all history: They take the greatest risks in the name of Love. They live and die only for Love. So too is it with their longing: It can’t be contained or encompassed, only deepened into ever widening vistas.
The flight into the Desert is by no means a flight away from, but a headlong flight towards. The Desert is nothing if not engagement, combat.
What a wonderful grace it is to experience and to participate in, in at least some dim, imperfect fashion, the longing of God’s Heart for all humanity and for all creation
The Spirit, as von Balthasar rightly says, is the “reality of mutual presence and indwelling.” This is the core and essence of prayer. The Spirit enables prayer (which is the basis of, and in some sense, already in itself, eternal life) by enabling us to share intimately, like a lover, in the inner life of God. And so, to be made in the image of God is to be created with this capacity – not so much for rational thought (as many in the past have claimed), but for love. Love is what makes man man. The fullness of life consists, then, in shared life, in a life of mutual self-giving. God, through Jesus, initiated this movement. It all boils down to this one, simple fact: God’s interaction with the human race runs lie a love poem. Our life itself is a love poem unfolding.
Lord, your Love is a terrible one. You ask me to give up those things to which I cling for life: my time, my energy; my precious melancholy; the kind of person I should like to be and appear before others. In short, you ask me strip myself of myself. Your awful Love demands it…
“We either contemplate or exploit.” We’ve heard it so many times. And yet how few of us truly live it. Another phrase, and perhaps less known: “The glory of our eyes is to become the eyes of the dove.” Yes, yes…Beauty is yearning to gratuitously pour itself into our lives, flood them in profusion, but we are all of us blind, obtuse, and thankless creatures – swinish and miserly to the last. We want to storm beauty’s gates, but then only to strong-arm it into submission, and greedily gut it of its secrets. Like grace, beauty, to be fully itself, must be utterly free. Dostoevsky once said something to the effect that beauty is a kind of arena in the heart of man within which God and the Devil do battle. The whole idea could also be brought down to this: Holding beauty in one’s hands is a bit like playing with fire. Originally a gift inscribed in all creation for the purpose of spurring the heart on to the joy of complete self-abandonment, beauty has, since the Fall, become a treacherous incendiary towards the exact opposite. It is no longer inherently trustworthy. But it is not beauty’s fault – the problem lies in our own distorted hearts, penetrated as they are to their unknowable depths by a Promethean desire for plunder and possession. That is, alas, as with so much else, where the problem lies. And so, rather than allow those scattered fragments of Paradise – whose glimmering, as if from a mirror, we catch askance in passing faces, in moments of true communion with others, and in all the solitary places of the world – to lead us beyond ourselves into the Source of All Beauty, which is ever present and yet infinitely beyond us, we so often would rather cling to them, as if they were pieces of driftwood in a raging storm: straight to the bottom of the sea.
Arrival would one day
In forerooms furnished
With futility, strain,
Or (better yet): that he would catch
It prowling the gloaming tallgrass
Beyond the dark eyes
Of women, hidden there,
Or (better still): wrest it
Straight from cold,
Gazing up now
Into the swaying branches
Of the trees: how they
In the morning emptiness
That is our only
Claim, our sole
Knowing that, ineluctably,
We are all seeds strewn