RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
The contemplative journey can be appreciated through many different images
and ways of understanding. Here we present it as a process of growth through
five phases as one journeys in the land of unfamiliarity. The descriptions
of the five phases were adapted from one of the many articles by Marie
Beha OSC from the Review For Religious. Most of this content
was assembled by Sr. Helen Banyai SJC on my suggestion. The last
third of this content ( most of phase 5) was assembled by Vicky
Chen, M.D.**. Several people including Ruth
McLean ** helped
me bring this to you.
Since all calls to deeper relationship with God embrace a common core of
values and attitudes, we offer this meditative material as a possible support.
Individuals can use this meditation resource to understand, accept and
respond to the struggles going on in their own prayer experience.
Be with me as I
into a land that is
unknown to me.
I know not where I
where I may wander,
or what I may experience.
I am afraid, Lord,
but I will trust in
to stay close to my
I feel the stirrings
of your call within me,
and I know I am asked
to go forward
Love me, Lord.
I will try to love
and follow you
in my weakness ...
That One Had Before
For a long time I experience nothing but distaste, dislike, aridity in
my prayer, yet such a great desire to meet you, Lord. The very presence
of you that once flooded my being in deep affective prayer and in contact
with the world, now seems to be utterly absent. It is as if I had lost
you. Dryness is now the outcome of fixing my senses upon subjects which
formerly provided satisfaction. The light I had before appears as darkness
God divests the faculties, affections and senses, both spiritual and sensory,
interior and exterior. He leaves the intellect in darkness, the will in
aridity, the memory in emptiness and the affections in supreme afflictions,
bitterness and anguish, by depriving the soul of the feeling and satisfaction
it previously obtained from spiritual blessings.(2)
The night seems very dense and dark. I feel that I will never find you
again. Yet, I do not experience true panic or disquietude. I experience
only a deep abiding trust that you will come, that in a way you are present
in your absence.
my bed by night I seek you whom my heart loves but find you not
suffer your terrors; I am helpless, in complete darkness and loneliness
long will you hide your face from me?
hope in you. When will you comfort me? How long must your servant endure
am allotted months of emptiness and nights of misery are apportioned me
is my grief that your right hand has changed
have taken me up and thrown me away
feel like Job. Obviously, I have offended you in some way. Let me know,
Lord, why you contend against me
Where once you breathed your loving breath
upon my cheek, my neck, my ear ...
now, you are gone.
Where once you stroked my waiting palm
laid open to your flaming touch ...
now, you are gone.
an empty womb
the stillness hangs upon
your absence aches
its shadow sears my mind
Where once you filled my vacant stares,
my empty rooms ...
now darkness pounds.
Where once you tamed my rampant storms,
unleashed with fury in the night ...
now darkness pounds.
i am the babe
abandoned to the emptiness
the thick, dark black
the hollow arms.
i am the babe
set free amidst the tunnels of aridity
the spirals of unending
the waves of incongruity.
Where once you danced before my eyes
in raptured strains of liturgy ...
now, sorrow reigns.
Where once you dressed my soul in love
in orbs of fragile reverence ...
now, sorrow reigns.
Lost keys Lost doors Lost light
Lost me Lost You
Standing on the trail at sunset
i await your next caress.(3)
To Leave Behind The Past
Experience God In A New Way
It seems to me that God calls me to leave behind
the past the ways I hold dear in relating to him, and meet
him, experience him in new ways.
It is like being called to a foreign country where I must learn all over
The privation of the senses is one of the conditions required, that the
spiritual form, which is the union of love, may be introduced in the spirit
and united with it. The Holy One works all of this in the soul by means
of a pure and dark contemplation.(4)
go from what I know and love to the land that God will show me
am declaring new things; I want to guide you in paths you have not known
am doing a new thing, now it springs forth
go to a land flowing with milk and honey
will lead you into the wilderness and speak to your heart
i awoke, one morning,
from shades of sleep,
to find my world had changed ...
the ground on which i had always placed my feet,
had subtly shifted with the darkness.
the firm beliefs and solid suppositions
that ordered my daily decisions
had evaporated before my eyes ...
the images of God
which sketched my thoughts
and traced my days
now seemed anachronistic to my mind ...
that held my head
and spoke of warm security
in familiar ways
were slipping silently from my bed ...
the props i used
to keep me strong
now seemed obsolete
and strangely out of synchronization.
submerged in pools of doubt
lay the buoys i'd worn
to hold me up in times of trial.
caught and helpless,
uprooted and airborne,
i existed ...
dangling in space
between the old
and the new ...
one eye was fixed with longing to the past,
with an urgent expectancy,
to what might lay ahead ...
one hand was clutching
at what had been so easy and certain,
grasped at what might fill
the freshly-opened void.
i had a new space within myself
which i had not discerned before ...
it begged designs to form its cast.
a voice emerged deep in my heart
which called me to an alien land.
it tugged and pulled
and bade me come
to risk and grow
in tune with it.
i felt the promise
of a more profound love
and communion with divinity ...
if i could only
shirk my fear
and put my trust
in what beckoned me ...(5)
To The Call
New beginning involves a wrench, a break, perhaps a repudiation. The total,
final break with all I hold dear is not achieved without tears. Your call,
my God, is both fascinating and terrifying. I relate to it with mixed feelings.
I sense fear and resistance.
The attempt to flee from reality, to deny your call, puts me in a kind
of vacuum. It is like being nowhere, having no place to stand. Your call,
my God, to pure and dark contemplation has already made a difference, and
that difference is irreversible. I realize that the return to former ways
is no longer a possibility, much less an option. Yet, I am afraid. I must
choose to break through the fear and come to new life or try to escape
from your disturbing call. To escape would be a way of self-defeat. I acknowledge
that I am afraid and fear begins to retreat. I am freer now to go into
Isaiah I am terrified by the experience of your holiness and my sinfulness
and death are set before me, today. I am to choose life
is the road to new life. In my agony I ask you to remove this cup from
is nowhere that I can flee or hide from you. You know my heart and my thoughts
am confused, my spirit fails. Teach me the way I am to walk
am not ready yet. Delay your call, Lord
return to my former ways is no longer a comfortable option
tell me not to fear, Lord, for you will be with me
bore me on eagles' wings and brought me to yourself and now you are promising
something even greater
Lord, are powerful, full of majesty. You shake the wilderness, strip the
forest bare. I am afraid to fall into the hand of the living God
I could go back to my former ways!
I try to escape it will be a way of self-defeat
am afraid but your promises strengthen me
i plod the land of ancient time
where faceless days and voiceless nights
beneath the hand
of willed and bland oblivion.
descending burrowed abysses
where memory plays its instant frames,
i step into the tangled mesh
of mortal patterns etched in ice;
i crouch surrounded
by my self
and feel the web encircle me.
peering into mirrored pools
i see the past disrobe and speak
of crusted blood and careless tears
that filtered through my roaring streams;
i see my thoughts undress and hide
along the empty paths i ran.
i try to wash the pain away
slice the ropes that keep me bound,
but razor edges of my sin
slide deep into the fleshy part,
wedge firm within my fleshy part.....
i taste the cutting with my tongue
and bite the harshness as they sink.
i throw myself against the wall
and dash my head with jagged stones,
in efforts to escape this purge
of looking at my nakedness,
of sewing on my barren limbs,
accepting them as part of me.
i lie awake upon the floor
amidst the crumbs of who i am,
and dig the lava from my eyes
that blinded me to sacred light,
and tear the blanket from my heart
that let me sleep contentedly.
i plod the land of present time
with fearless days and voiceless nights
and raise my arms
in anguished call.....
i stand and bellow
. . . . . to
Out of my fear comes the acceptance of
surrender. It will be a gradual
and progressive revelation in me and it will be total. I am called to let
go of what has been familiar to me, of that "very self" by which I have
identified myself. I am resolved to seek nothing and do nothing but what
is willed by my God. I know it is all love.
I pray alone
on the mountain tops
It is so calm, so
All is dark;
yet coming closer
to me is a robe
of great brilliance.
I close my eyes in
As the full-sun,
He stops before me,
His presence pierces
through my whole being
yet consuming me not.
I kiss the earth before
I let go and fly to
Oh, God, before such
I surrender myself to you. Into your hands I commit my spirit
surrender before your power. You cause me to be filled with your spirit
and to recover my sight
will do as you direct me, Lord. I will listen to and obey your voice
Mary I say, "I am the servant of the Lord. Be it done unto me as you say."
your will be done, Lord, not mine
I want is to know Christ. I forget what lies behind and strain forward
to what lies ahead
trust you, Lord, that you will provide for all my needs
delight to do your will, O my God
I am drawn into a phase of looking back on my life. I allow myself to experience
and be aware of my weakness and my giftedness. My God, you call me to acceptance
and appreciation of my unique self. You call me to a greater freedom in
being with you.
Of One's Sinfulness
You draw me into the desert where I am brought face to face with myself
in all my nakedness. A re-experince of my past here tells me who I am at
present. I re-live my many sins.
I feel them as they cut into my bones.
may outwardly appear righteous to men, but within I am full of hypocrisy
know all about me. You know how I am lukewarm
emerges from within me is what makes me impure. Wickedness pervades the
deep recesses of my heart
resides inside of me. I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing
I hate. Nothing good dwells within me
often I have refused to accept you as my God and myself as your creature
see the futility, darkness, foolishness, idolatry of my life. I know that
there is no excuse for me
my many and serious infidelities toward you, my passionate lover, I have
deeply hurt you
Of Quiet And Peace In Between
Through the pain, despite the turbulence, I become less anxious, more
at one with myself, more at peace. I have been loved into
accepting your forgiveness.
accept that my salvation is in conversion and tranquilty. In quietness
and trust lies my strength
eyes are not raised too high. I have calmed and quieted my soul
peace will keep my heart and mind from fear
am content with weaknesses, for when I am weak, then I am strong
came to call not the virtuous but sinners. It is good to belong to those
who are called
rejoice, for you have regarded my low estate
peace I lie down and rest secure
||In you, Lord, I may
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort
and restore me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ
Christ in hearts of
all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.(8)
A Fresh Insight
Into God's Mercy And Goodness
In this desert, I am brought face to face with God. While an overwhelming
perception of my past sins brings me almost to despair, he is leading me
to a fresh insight into his mercy and goodness.
forgiveness restores my peace
forgive me in a way that no one else could
call me back for you have redeemed me
heal my faithlessness, you love me and revive me
will not let the flames consume me. You are a compassionate God
Lord, heal and lead me, comfort me
on my door and share with me all you have
are a tender and compassionate God. You understand me, for you know my
receive mercy, that in me as the foremost of sinners, Jesus Christ may
display his perfect patience
Awareness Of God's Giftedness
I am being led to a new awareness of my giftedness.
I re-experience in my heart my whole life as a gift. The recognition of
your very least gift within me, Lord, is an experience so new and so intense
that it overwhelms me and directs me to you.
The awareness of the mystery in all your gifts is an inkling of the mystery
of you. It is an inkling of the love of your divine heart longing to be
accepted so that you can bestow on me your life and your joy. I rejoice
over the experience of my nothingness that enables me to await all from
God as little children await all from their parent. How can I repay all
that you have given me?
have blessed me in your Son with every spiritual blessing
give the free gift of eternal life to me
have my own special gift that you have given me
good gift comes from above
have received from your fullness, grace upon grace
is your free gift
cry out with my whole being, "Shower, O heavens, from above!"
Of Oneself As Sinner And As One Being Forgiven
This period of life review is one of turbulence. One day I am plunged almost
into despair; another day I am lifted up by a deeper realization of God's
love to me. In between, I experience quiet and peace. Through the purification
of my life review, I am brought to a deep acceptance of myself as sinner
and as one loved into accepting forgiveness.
I find myself growing into greater freedom and humanism. I am feeling more
comfortable with my own uniqueness and in becoming most truly myself.
of my weakness into self-acceptance is emerging. I understand that this
very openness to receive redemption is true humility. I am learning to
allow the power of your grace to transform me.
love me so much that you desire to wash my feet
know I am a sinner, yet you continue to save me
protect me and love me despite my wrong doing
am able to accept myself because of your great love. I am able to accept
we acknowledge our sins, God who is just can be trusted to forgive us
trust you, Lord, for you have forgiven me
Thomas, I sometimes doubt you, Lord; yet you continue to love me and be
present to me
Into A Union Of Love
I accept your call, Lord, to stay in the desert where I may further realize
my own nothingness and utter weakness. I may learn to let go of the last
hold I have on my own controlled knowledge of you, of myself and of the
It seems to me that through the dread of the purification of the senses,
faculties and affections, you have taken me to a new threshold of union
with you. I sense the being drawn into a union
of love, that is so much beyond me, that it can only be
received as an unearned gift. You come and go, yet always remain.
Yes, it is
truly the Beloved who visits thee. But He comes invisible, hidden, incomprehensible.
He comes to touch thee, not to be seen; to intimate His presence to thee,
not to be understood; to make thee taste of Him, not to pour Himself out
in His entirety; to draw thy affection, not to satisfy thy desire; to bestow
the first fruits of His love, not to communicate it in its' fullness.(9)
spirit prays within me with sighs too deep to understand
never fails but endures forever. I am called to put away the ways of a
you have probed me and you know me through and through
am drawn to you, Lord. I touch you and I am healed
worshippers worship God in spirit and truth
are my shepherd; I lack nothing
call me to you out of love so that you may give me rest
am called to you and I desire to go. I want to be with you in love
touch that thrills
o touch that thrills
and blazes beauty
with its flame ...
i cannot breathe.
i am beset
enraptured by a silent
far greater, grander
than my own;
enraptured by a silent
that causes me to
draw and hold
its burning face
against my own.
o touch that thrills
and causes me
to die ...
and in the dying
call for more.
and in the dying
call for consummation
of that power
that bids me faint
before its feet
in crumpled pools of ecstasy ...
that drenches me
in sweet perfume
and wraps itself
inside my soul.
o touch that thrills
and blazes beauty
with its flame ...
i cannot breathe.(10)
Silence: Inner Necessities
Solitude and silence are inner necessities for me. I am invited to come
to a lonely place all by myself and rest awhile.I am to surrender myself
in silencing my own powers to become utterly receptive to God's mysterious
gift of love.
In the silence it will not be long before you are visited by God. He came
to Elisha on Horeb at a moment of such silence that the murmuring of the
slightest breeze could be heard (1K 19:12). When the Lord wants to raise
a soul to contemplation, he obliges all its faculties to be silent, so
as to commit itself to him alone. Stop bothering about yourself ... when,
in a word, you have habitually lost sight of self, you will have penetrated
the silent Holy of Holies, the inviolable sanctuary of your soul where
God resides and whither he invites you. Of you as of Moses he will say:
"He is in charge
of my whole household.
I speak to him face
plainly and not in
and he sees Yahweh's
On the steppe there is only one sound: the moaning of the wind. "This is,"
runs an Arabic proverb, "the desert weeping because it would like to be
a meadow" ... Only the breathing of the Spirit should be heard.(12)I
perceive penance also as an
inner necessity for the union of love to which I am being called. By renouncing
creatures I acknowledge their nothingness before God's greatness. By renouncing
the joys which they offer I acknowledge the sufficiency of God who is my
need to go where it is quiet so that I can pray
need to be alone and pray
sometimes call me into the desert where I must rely on your spirit
give me your gift of peace
is necessary to spend time alone with you, Lord
What occurs at this phase is so beyond me, that it can only be received
as unearned gift. God's revelation of self in Jesus and through the Holy
Spirit, changes my fear into loving attraction and my self-acceptance into
self-forgetfulness. I am empowered with the capacity for communion.
Of One's Own Ignorance Of God
You are transforming my whole life, Lord. As part of this contemplative
destroy the idols and images
I have had of you, so that I may receive your fresh revelation.
Only God Himself can let the bucket down into the depths in us. And on
the other side, He must constantly work as the iconoclast. Every idea of
Him we form, He must in mercy shatter. The most blessed result of prayer
would be to rise thinking, "but I never knew before. I never dreamed ..."
I suppose it was at such a moment that Thomas of Aquinas said of all of
his theology: "It reminds me of straw".(13) To
truly know God, in all God's awesomeness, we must meet on God's terms.
This asks of me a kenosis, an emptying.
... and then
It (God's presence in darkness) breaks forth, even from the things that
are beheld and from those that behold them, and plunges the true initiate
into the Darkness of Unknowing, wherein he renounces all the apprehensions
of his understanding and is enwrapped in that which is wholly intangible
and invisible, belonging wholly to Him that is beyond all things and to
none else (whether himself or another), and being through the passive stillness
of all his reasoning powers united by his highest faculty to Him that is
wholly Unknowable, of whom thus by a rejection of all knowledge, he possesses
a knowledge that exceeds his understanding.(14)
God is so great, I cannot adequately describe God
one who is nearest to God makes God known
will know you by being betrothed to you, Lord
God is a consuming fire
enlighten the eyes of my heart
rooted and grounded in love, I may have the power to comprehend the breadth
and length and height ...
Knowledge Of God Is Complete Trust
The soul, having entered the vast solitude of the Godhead, happily loses
itself; and enlightened by the brightness of most lucid darkness, becomes
through knowledge as if without knowledge, and dwells in a sort of wise
ignorance. And although it knows not what God is, to whom it is united
by pure charity, although it sees not God as He is in His glory, it yet
learns by experience that He infinitely transcends all sensible things,
and all that can be apprehended by the human intellect concerning Him.
It knows God by this intimate embrace and contact better than the eyes
of the body know the visible sun. This soul well knows what true contemplation
In this embrace you make me understand Lord, that to know you is to trust
you, to abandon myself to you; to want nothing but you. To have found God,
to have experienced Him in the intimacy of our being, to have lived even
for one hour in the fire of His Trinity and the bliss of His Unity clearly
makes us say: "Now I understand. You alone are enough for me".(16)
Now I know that you love me Lord, and you can be trusted in all circumstances
of life. I am being led to a joyous assent. A growing experience of your
tenderness, care and concern beyond anything I could ask or imagine, draws
and motivates me.
I know that nothing can separate me from God
are the God of all comfort
will trust in you and live in peace
love is better thatn wine. Draw me!
know all about me, Lord
my response, I want to put on love which binds everything together in perfect
Jesus Live His Life In Oneself;
And Intimacy With God
The more I lose myself in you, Lord, the more I am able to dance to the
rhythm of your redeeming grace. Like the snake that swims in darkness between
the crevices of rocks in order to shed its skin, I too, slowly strip off
my old self to allow the Christ in me come through as I grow. My sole concern
in this life is to be more and more at one with you.
is the whole of my being, Lord Jesus, that you would have me give you,
tree and fruit alike, the finished work as well as the harnessed power,
the opus together with the operatio. To allay your hunger and slake your
thirst, to nourish your body and bring it to its full stature, you need
to find in us a substance which will truly be food for you. And this food
ready to be transformed into you, this nourishment for your flesh, I will
prepare for you by liberating the spirit in myself and in everything: through
an effort to learn the truth, to live the good, to create the beautiful;
through cutting away all inferior and evil energies; through practicing
that charity towards all men which alone can gather up the multitude into
a single soul....
in however small a degree, the awakening of spirit in the world is to offer
to the incarnate Word an increase of reality and stability; it is to allow
his influence to grow in intensity around us.17
neither death nor life, nor any power, will come between your love and
have chosen to call me your friend, and love me enough to lay down your
life for me
was consecrated to you before I was born.
long for you as a deer yearns for running streams.
pine for you, my heart thirsts for you, my body longs for you.
are set as a seal on my heart, your love is stronger than death, a flash
of fire no flood can quench, no torrents drown.
on Love is not setting up one’s tent
the top of Tabor.
climbing Calvary with Jesus,
looking at the Cross as a treasure!....
heaven I’m to live on joy.
trials will have fled forever,
in exile, in suffering I want
live on Love.
on Love is banishing every fear,
memory of past faults.
see no imprint of my sins.
a moment love has burned everything.....
Flame, O very sweet Blaze!
make my home in your hearth.
your fire I gladly sing:
live on Love!...”
on Love, what strange folly!”
world says to me, “Ah! stop your singing,
waste your perfumes, your life.
to use them well...”
you, Jesus, is such a fruitful loss!...
my perfumes are yours forever.
want to sing on leaving this world:
dying of Love!”
of Love is a truly sweet martyrdom,
that is the one I wish to suffer.
Cherubim! Tune your lyre,
I sense my exile is about to end!...
of Love, consume me unceasingly.
of an instant, your burden is so heavy to me!
Jesus, make my dream come true:
die of Love!....
of Love is what I hope for.
I shall see my bonds broken.
God will be my great reward.
don’t desire to possess other goods.
want to be set on fire with his Love.
want to see Him, to unite myself to Him forever.
is my heaven... that is my destiny:
on Love!!!...... 19
Divine Adoption As Being Realized In Oneself
Imagine myself as a newborn lamb, my mother has died in giving birth to
me. Soon I too will die without fresh milk. The shepherd matches me with
a ewe that has just lost her newborn by smearing the blood and fluid from
the afterbirth of the ewe’s dead baby on me. The ewe sniffs me over and
then accepts me as her own. I am nourished by her and grow up by her side.
Jesus, your blood has redeemed me. You have taught me to call God my father.
Though we are 2000 years apart I have become part of your family, sharing
the same gift of faith, hope and love. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
eternal God, light surpassing all other light because all light comes forth
from you! O fire surpassing every fire because you alone are the fire that
burns without consuming! You consume whatever sin and selfishness you find
in the soul. Yet your consuming does not distress the soul but fattens
her with insatiable love, for though you satisfy her she is never sated
but longs for you constantly. The more she possesses you the more she seeks
you, and the more she seeks and desires you the more she finds and enjoys
you, high eternal fire, abyss of charity! 18
are the ram that has been offered to redeem my life.
blood protected us from death that would have struck us.
redeem my life from the abyss, and crown me with faithful love and tenderness.
suffer from prolonged paralysis, you seek me out
Zaccheus, I am called to lead a new life.
have adopted me with a new name and given me a new mission.
am freed from being possessed by my own dark spirits. You are persecuted
for my sake.
have called me your brother, your sister and your mother.
Have Learned To Love You Late
have learnt to love you late,
at once so ancient and so new!
have learnt to love you late!
were within me, and I was in the world outside myself.
searched for you outside myself and,
as I was, I fell upon the lovely things of your creation.
were with me, but I was not with you.
beautiful things of this world kept me far from you and yet,
they had not been in you, they would have had no being at all.
called me; you cried aloud to me;
broke my barrier of deafness.
shone upon me;
radiance enveloped me;
put my blindness to flight.
shed your fragrance about me;
drew breath and now I gasp for your sweet odour.
tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst for you.
touched me, and I am inflamed with love of your peace.20
To A Fresh Leap Of Faith
Like the Israelites travelling in the desert, I search for the path to
you. You seem to have forgotten me, yet each time I am at a low point you
appear. In my weakest moment you strengthen me. How can I not walk through
the parted sea, or follow the pillar of fire, or trust that the manna will
be there again the next morning?
Then again did Abraham and Sarah not question the possibility of having
a child when they were both so advanced in years? Did Zechariah and Elizabeth
not doubt the same way? Finally was young Mary of Nazareth not puzzled
by how would it be possible for her to have a son since she had no knowledge
of man? I too have many questions, when I am aware of God’s presence. Yet,
how can I not take that leap into the invisible arms of God?
there possibly be any soul, O Lord, that reaches the stage where you grant
it such graces and favours, and understands that you rejoice to be with
it, and yet falls back into sin after so many favours and such great demonstrations
of the love you bear it? Of this love there can be no doubt, since its
effects are visible. Yes, there is indeed such a soul; I have fallen back
in this way not once but many times. May it please your goodness, Lord,
that I may be the only thankless one, the only one who has committed this
great wrong, and behaved with such excessive ingratitude. Yet your infinite
goodness has produced some good even from that; the wickeder I have been,
the more the glory of your great mercies has shone out. What great reason
I have to sing of them forever! 21
is true that the presence of God in contemplation always brings peace and
strength to the soul, but sometimes that peace is buried under pain and
darkness and aridity. Strength is given to us, sometimes, only when we
have been reduced to an extreme sense of our own helplessness and incapacity........
Infused contemplation, then, sooner or later brings with it a terrible
interior revolution. Gone is the sweetness of prayer. Meditation becomes
impossible, even hateful. Liturgical functions seem to be an insupportable
burden. The mind cannot think. The will seems unable to love. The interior
life is filled with darkness and dryness and pain. The soul is tempted
to think that all is over and that, in punishment for its infidelities,
all spiritual life has come to an end.....
Generally they remain faithful to God: they try to serve Him. But they
turn away from interior things and express their service in externals.
They externalize themselves in pious practices, or they immerse themselves
in work in order to escape the pain and sense of defeat they have experienced
in what seem, to them, to be the collapse of all contemplation. The light
shineth in darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. (Jn 1:5) 22
me to come to you across the water, let me not doubt when the wind blows.
not reject me in my old age, my hope will never fade, I will play the harp
to you, for you.
seems such a long time that you have left me in darkness, yet in the end
you are here to give me a new life, at the risk of losing your own.
pull me from the watery depths and rescue me from my enemies deep within
Beauty Of Creation Bears Witness To God
the beauty of the earth,
beauty of the sea,
beauty of the wide air around you,
beauty of the sky;
the order of the stars,
sun whose brightness lights the day,
moon whose splendor softens the gloom of night;
the living creatures that move in the waters,
roam upon the earth,
fly through the air;
spirit that lies hidden,
matter that is manifest;
visible things that are ruled,
invisible that rule them;
will answer you;
and see, we are beautiful.”
beauty is their confession of God.
made these beautiful changing things,
not one who is beautiful and changeth not?23
Praying the rosaries of my life, 24 at each
turn I am mindful of the many gifts you have given me, of my turning away
from you repeatedly, and of how you lovingly embrace me again. I ponder,
I weep and I smile. Indeed I may be lost in the dark forest now, yet I
know with the next turn, I will see your ray of light, and will come to
the edge of a clearing. Yes, the sun will shine through the thick morning
fog and I will come to another landing.
that is really light; dryness that is living water – our natural way of
seeing and experiencing fails us here. We are left only with faith and
hope and love. But gradually, mysteriously and incredibly, we come to discover
even in this life that this darkness is the only true light, that only
the apparently dry well can really slake our thirst.
Sam 11: 2-17,
your chosen one from the days of my youth, I have sinned against you grievously,
yet you are so fast in forgiving me.
in God alone, my soul! He is the source of my hope.
10: 21, 27
more thing I need to do, that is, to return your gaze of love, in poverty
of mind and spirit. Impossible for me to do on my own, but with you, everything
life is as transient as the wild flowers of the field, yet your love for
me is eternal.
I have fallen asleep, unable to share your sorrow, to feel the pain you
must bear with your open wounds, because of our stubbornness, our inability
to reconcile with each other & with you.
am so grateful that I long to sing your song. My heart constantly yearns
to make music to your name.
Pillar of the Cloud
kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on!
night is dark and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Should lead me on;
love to choose and see my path; but now
Lead thou me on!
love the garish day, and, spite of fears
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years!
long thy power has blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent till
The night is gone,
with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since and lost awhile! 26
In Darkness: In Communion With God And With
Not with blazing heat or fireworks, not with celebratory bells or trumpet
blast, not with passionate embrace or ecstatic union; no, now I feel you
in the soft breeze of the cool morning air, I see you in the warm glow
of the setting sun and I know you in the many ordinary people I encounter
from day to day. Yes, you are guiding me to love subtly & silently,
like some old married couples. No longer do I accept you only in the good,
but I also accept you in what seems to be bad. I am not in control of myself,
of others or of circumstances. Powerlessly and patiently I wait, I sigh,
I pine.....for that rare moment of your consolation. Slowly I am learning
to be content with being loved by you in darkness, perhaps never see you
again....except always knowing that you are there, close by.
contemplation, being produced in the soul by the most sublime and delicate
action of infused love, makes the soul perfect in the love of God while
perfecting all the other virtues in that same contemplative love......Be
content to remain in loneliness and isolation and dryness and anguish waiting
upon God in darkness. Your inarticulate longing for Him in the night of
suffering will be your most eloquent prayer and will be more valuable to
you and to the Church and will give more glory to God than the highest
natural flights of the intelligence or the imagination.......... By pouring
His Wisdom into your soul He is accomplishing the greatest work of His
love and forming the perfect likeness of Christ, His incarnate Word, in
you and perfecting His Church through everything that you allow Him to
perform by the agency of your free will transformed and elevated in Him.27
I am more precious than the birds in the sky and the lilies in the valley.
one single moment, all my cumulative feelings of loss have vanished, I
am lifted by you to a new level of intimacy, to a love without the need
for proximity or consolation. You have called me to be you on this earth,
to you I stretch out my hands, put your belt around me and take me wherever
you wish me to go.
barrenness of my desert will turn into fertile blossoms.
Jonah I try to escape from the path you set for me. In darkness I pray
to you and you deliver me to my destiny.
I love you? Do I love you? Do I really love you? My love for you will bear
fruits in others.
Sighs That Turn Into Song
no, the stone has been moved...
have they taken you?
dawn is dim, the night air still moist...
are you my Love?
through empty streets and rocky fields
fast....now I feel the cuts on my feet.
heart bleeds along with yours
since the news of your arrest.
mind full of the images
your wounds, your struggle, your falls.
much noise, so many people
your gaze penetrates the crowd.
seems forever, a slow agonizing end
two thieves they erect you.
day only, but the sky has changed.
communicate without word.
must get help fast, must tell the others.
and John have come and gone.
don’t believe them.
must be around !
I long to touch you again,
limp and lifeless body.
haste we have to leave you,
where are you now?
without sleep or food
am exhausted to the point of collapse.
I must try to find you
have those soldiers hidden you?
sun is now high and bright,
can hardly open my eyes.
see clearly through my own tears,
shadow comes over me.
the gardener, he must know!!
shouldn’t I weep? I have lost my Love.
my heart misses its beats!
that really you? Yes, “Rabbuni!”
am so overjoyed that I can burst.
Your father & my father?!
are one, your look tells me everything.
must run again, this time to tell the good news.
no longer want anything
to love until I die of love.
I fear nothing.28
Need to Give Thanks
of the universe, my beginning and my end,
will never fully express my gratitude,
my overwhelming joy in you,
the peace that you alone can bring.
you for the fields of wild flowers,
the running stream,
birds in heaven, the fire-flies,
children across the school yard,
aged and the dying.
the algae on the pond, I see the teaching,
detachment yet rooted in the Living Water.
the garden with weeds & grass, I learn the lesson
discernment and of prayer.
you for every thread you have woven
the tapestry of my life.
you for all the ups and downs,
for the monotonous routines.
feel the anxiety of an impending war,
mental anguish of the restless,
suffering of the sick & the lonely,
pain of those who have lost
the loved ones in the prime of their lives.
give thanks for all that I cannot comprehend.
give thanks when I am in total darkness.
only know that you love deeply and eternally.
you for accepting
my broken and imperfect love.
Ruth McLean (Guelph, Ont., 1990)
Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Kieran Kavanagh, O.C.D. and
Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D., trans. (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1973)
Vol. 2, p.333
St. John of the Cross, p.333
George A. Maloney, S.J., Invaded God (Denville, N.J.: Dimension
Books, 1979) p.176
Hugh of Victor in The Soul Afire, H.A. Reinhold, ed. (Garden City,
N.Y.: Doubleday, Image Books, 1973) p.290
Monk, The Hermitage Within, Alan Neame, trans. (London: Darton, Longman
and Todd, 1977), p.14
Letters to Malcolm (Harcourt, N.Y.: Brace and World,
"Pseudo Dionysius, Mystical Theology", The Soul Afire, H.A. Reinhold,
ed. (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973) p.49
Louis de Blois in The Soul Afire, H.A. Reinhold, ed. (Garden City,
N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973) pp. 358-59
The God Who Comes, R.M. Hancock, trans. (Maryknoll,
N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1974), p.93
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe, Simon Bartholomew,
trans. (Harper & Row, Publishers, New York & Evanston, 1965), p.134
St. Catherine of Sienna, The Dialogue, Suzanne Noffke, O.P., trans.
( Paulist Press, New York & Mahwah, 1980), p. 273
St. Therese of Lisieux, excerpt from Living on Love, The Poetry
of St. Therese of Lisieux, Donald Kinney, O.C.ED. trans. (ICS Publications,
Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, DC, 1996) p. 89-92
St. Augustine, Book X, 27, Confessions, R. S. Pine-Coffin, trans.
( Penguin Books Ltd, London England, 1961) p. 231-232
St. Teresa of Avila, Singing the Same Song, The Life of St. Teresa of
Avila by Herself, J. M. Cohen trans. ( Penguin Books Ltd. London, England,1957)
Thomas Merton, What is Contemplation? (Templegate Publishers, Springfield,
Illinois, revised 1981) p.40, 42, 45-46
John Veltri S.J., Healing of Memories for Oneself, Orientations Vol.
1: Collection of Helps for Prayer, (Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario,
revised 1996) p. 41-43
Thomas H.Green S.J., Drinking From A Dry Well, (Ave Maria Press,
Notre Dame, Indiana, 1991) p.65
John Henry Newman
Thomas Merton, What is Contemplation? (Templegate Publishers, Springfield,
Illinois, revised 1981) p. 72, 74, 77
Vicky Chen ( Burlington, Ontario) Last stanza from a prayer of St Therese
Ruth Mclean's Website can be found at: http://www.poemsforyou.org
Vicky Chen's Website can be found at: http://tidbits.0catch.com/