Sunday, October 30, 2005


it has been a while. but i am here. reading. writing. thinking. praying. mostly trying to keep up with the laundry and be true to my family. the rest is tabled for another day. if you make it through the quote below i shall reward you with a poem, may it be worthy of your time.

the book which has found its way to me (through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, past the goblin city), is The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross:

Even though these souls have begun to walk along the road of virtue, and our Lord desires to place them in the dark night so they may move on to the divine union, they do not advance. Sometimes, the reason is, they do not want to enter the dark night or allow themselves to be placed in it, and sometimes they misunderstand themselves and are without suitable or alert directors who will show them the way to the summit. God gives many souls the talent and grace for advancing, and should they desire to make the effort they would arrive at this high state....

For some spiritual directors are likely to be a hindrance and harm rather than a help to these souls that journey on this road. Such directors have neither enlightenment nor experience of these ways. They are like the builders of the tower of Babel. [Gen 11:1-9] When these builders were supposed to provide the proper materials for the project, they brought entirely different supplies, because they failed to understand the language. And thus nothing was accomplished. Hence, it is arduous and difficult for a soul in these periods of the spiritual life when it cannot understand itself or find anyone else who understands it.

It will happen that while an individual is being conducted by God along the sublime path of dark contemplation and aridity, in which he feels lost, he will encounter in the midst of the fullness of his darknesses, trials, conflicts, and tempations someone who, in the style of Job's comforters [Jb 4:8-11], will proclaim that all of this is due to melancholia, or depression, or temperament, or to some hidden wickedness, and that as a result God has forsaken him. Therefore the usual verdict is that, since such trials afflict this person, he must have lived an evil life.

5. Others will tell him that he is falling back, since he finds no satsifaction or consolation as he previously did in the things of God. Such talk only doubles the trial of the poor soul, because its greatest suffering is caused by the knowledge of its own miseries; that it is full of evil and sin is as clear as the day, and even clearer, for, as we shall presently say, God is the author of this enlightenment in the night of contemplation. And when this soul finds someone who agrees with what it feels (that these trials are all its own fault), its suffering and distress grow without bounds. And this suffering usually becomes worse than death. Such a confessor is not satisfied with this but, in judging these trials to be the result of sin, he urges souls who endure them to go over their past and make many general confessions--which is another crucifixion. The director does not understand that now perhaps is not the time for such activity. Indeed, it is a period for leaving these persons alone in the purgation God is working in them, a time to give comfort and encouragement that they may desire to endure this suffering as long as God wills, for until then, no remedy--whatever the soul does, or the confessor says--is adequate.

my friends, how these words soothe my soul. i had begun to tremble at my state. at the darkness of the things, which for some time now, seem to be the only things i can comprehend. i can fathom. john comforts me by saying death to sense is the first death. i hope this explains what i have been struggling dumbly in my poetry to state (from a source hopefully more reliable than i).

(formatting lost)

tryst with saint john

come to me tonight
___in quietness
your words graven
___long ago
you're dead these many years
___and counting
i am here feeling closer
___to you than any
___living soul
who lightens my
illumines my burden
___having borne it before
the beggar, i
___go door to door
___shunned by all
save you.
___here you are, with me
___now whispering words
___of comfort penned
______ages ago.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

November 1 was All Saints Day, and today is All Soul's Day.

Lots of reading in our Anglican Catholic lectionary about the Communion of the Saints, past and present.

So, I bet St. John of the Cross was interceding for you as you read his works and wrote your poem.

In other words, you are closer to him than you think, and anyone who is alive in Christ is not dead, despite what the world tells us.