Wednesday, February 15, 2006

hell of mercy

i wrote this on feb 7. since i still find myself at a loss for words, i'll post it now. peace.

there is a concept that has been coming to me over the past couple days. i read of it in a merton book, can't recall which one, but it is a "hell of mercy."

i'll have to dig up the passage for you, but essentially, when we fall into the goodness of God, it is, sometimes, more devastating than not. a hell of mercy is exactly the kind of feeling i've been trying unsuccessfully to describe.

in mercy, He afflicted me.

in mercy, He chastised me.

in mercy.

i am in a hell of mercy.

i had always cried out, be merciful to me, Son of God. be merciful.

never have i felt that cry ignored. always have i felt mercy under my feet upholding me. behind my back, covering me. in front, directing my path.

but now, this is a new place.

i liken it to another concept read about in merton, which speaks of the blindness which the Light of God precipitates. He so overwhelms our senses and reason that we can see and know nothing. we are blinded by His light. we are deafened by the sound of His silence. we are undone.

lost in a hell of mercy.

these ancient writers, and merton (writing just two years before my birth does not seem so ancient), but his concepts and clarity of God. the hard words of God are ancient. the stuff of old.

one of my favorite movies is shakespeare in love. when lady delessups is in drag as thomas kent, and shakespeare is telling of his love for her, to her unwittingly. he remarks of his love being a sickness and its cure together. the sun and rain.

merton writes:
All the paradoxes about the contemplative way are reduced to this one: being without desire means being led by a desire so great that it is incomprehensible. It is too huge to be completely felt. It is a blind desire, which seems like a desire for "nothing" only because nothing can content it. And because it is able to rest in no-thing, then it rests, relatively speaking, in emptiness. But not in emptiness as such, emptiness for its own sake. Actually there is no such entity as pure emptiness, and the negative emptiness of the false contemplative is a "thing" not a "nothing." The "thing" that it is is simply the darkness of self...The character of emptiness, at least for a Christian contemplative, is pure love, pure freedom. Love that is free of everything, not determined by any thing, or held down by any special relationship. It is love for love's sake. It is sharing through the Holy Spirit, in the infinite charity of God.

sometimes i think the Lord loves us this way, or that is our response to His love. it is so marvelous, so wond'rous sweet that we cannot handle it. i cannot handle it. and would rather stay away and hide.

but this is a season of God's unabashed love, and i will not hide from Him. though it frightens, kills and quickens me simultaneously, i will not run.

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