Thursday, May 27, 2010

Medieval Mystics

And so as the fish swims in the vastness of the oceans and rests in the deeps, and as the bird boldly soars in the heights and the vastness of the air, in the same way she feels her spirit roam free through the depths and the heights and the immensity of love.

"...She has chosen Him alone in love above all, beneath all, and within all, and so she desires to see God, to possess and enjoy Him with all the longing of her heart and with all the strength of her soul."

~ Beatrijs of Nazareth

The Paradoxes of Love
The storming of love is what is sweetest within her,
Her deepest abyss is her most beautiful form,
To lose our way in her is to arrive,
To hunger for her is to feed and taste,
Her despairing is sureness of faith,
Her worst wounding is to become whole again,
To waste away for her is to endure,
Her hiding is to find her at all times,
To be tormented for her is to be in good health,
In her concealment she is revealed,
What she withholds, she gives,
Her finest speech is without words,
Her imprisonment is freedom,
Her most painful blow is her sweetest consolation,
Her giving is her taking away,
Her going away is her coming near,
Her deepest silence is her highest song,
Her greatest wrath is her warmest thanks,
Her greatest threatening is remaining true,
Her sadness is the healing of all sorrow.

This is how everyone today loves themselves: they want to live with God in consolation, in wealth, and in splendor, and to share in the delight of His glory. We all wish to be God with God. But, God knows there are few enough of us who want to live as men and women with His humanity or to bear His cross with Him, and to be crucified with Him in order to pay for the sins of the whole world...

May God make known to you, dear child, who He is and how He treats His servants and especially His handmaids, how He consumes them within Himself. From the depths of His wisdom, He shall teach you what He is and with what wonderful sweetness the one lover lives in the other and so permeates the other that they do not know themselves from each other. But they possess each other in mutual delight, mouth in mouth, heart in heart, body in body, soul in soul, while a single divine nature flows through them both and they both become one through each other, yet remaining always themselves.

If you want to know this perfection, then you must first learn to know yourself in all that you do, in what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do, in what you love and what you hate, in what you love and what you hate, in what you trust and what you do not trust, and in all that happens to you. You have to consider by yourself how you endure what opposes you and how you are able to go without those things which are dear to you. Of all the things that can befall a young heart, this is truly the hardest one of all: going without what we like. And when something good befalls you, examine to what use you can put it, and how wise and how moderate you are with regard to it. Try and remain inwardly detached in all that happens to you: when you are troubled or when you enjoy peace of mind. And always contemplate the works of our Lord, for these can teach you perfection.

Now understand the deepest essence of the soul: what the soul is. The soul is an essence which is transparent to God and for which God too is transparent. And the soul is more than this: it is an essence which wants to give delight to God, and which preserves its worth as long as it does not fall away to things which are alien to it and which are unworthy of it. And when the soul preserves its worth, then it becomes a groundless abyss where God is His own delight and in which He forever takes pleasure in Himself in the fullest degree, as the soul does forever in Him. The soul is the way that God goes when He proceeds from His depths to His liberty, that is into His ground, which is beyond the reach of all things but the soul's depths. And as long as God is not wholly her own possession, she will not be satisfied.


In the beginning Love satisfies us,
When Love first spoke to me of love -
How I laughed at her in return!
But then she made me like the hazel trees,
Which blossom early in the season of darkness,
And bear fruit slowly.

I drew so close to Love
That I began to understand
How great the gain of those
Who give themselves wholly to Love:
And when I saw this for myself,
What was lacking in me gave me pain.

~Hadewijch of Brabant