and have changed in such a way
That my Beloved is for me
and I am for my Beloved.
When the gentle hunter shot me
and left me in all my weakness,
in the arms of love
my soul fell
and being charged with new life
I have changed in such a way
That my Beloved is for me
and I am for my Beloved.
He pierced me with an arrow
laced with the herbs of love
and my soul became one
with her Creator;
I no longer want another love,
since I have given myself to my God,
That my beloved is for me
and I am for my Beloved.
-On Those Words "I am for My Beloved," by Teresa of Avila
The Marriage Cup
During Biblical times, a young man who wanted to marry would go with his father to the chosen woman's house to meet her and her father. They'd negotiate a steep "bride price", the money or physical items that the woman's father would ask for in exchange for giving up his valuable daughter.
Then, the young man's father would hand his son a cup of wine. The son, in turn, would offer it to the woman and say, "This cup I offer to you." In effect he was saying, "I love you and I offer you my life. Will you marry me"? If she drank it (sealing their engagement), she accepted his life and gave him hers. If not, she simply declined.
The Passover Cup
During the Passover liturgy of Jesus' day, participants would drink from four cups of wine at different times. The third cup was called the cup of salvation.
While celebrating the Passover with his disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus offered them the cup of salvation and said, "This cup is a new covenant in my blood." He was saying, in effect, "I love you. I give you my life. Will you marry me?"
Every time we drink from the communion cup and hear the words, "This cup is a new covenant of my blood," God is saying to us, "I love you. I invite you to be my spiritual bride." And every time we drink it, we are in effect saying to him, "I accept your gift, and I give you my life in return."
-Seder and Marriage, at Follow the Rabbi
June 20, 2013-
Things I want to remember:
Jesus said, you’ve been thinking, and we talked about how we need both- a living connection to our eternal, bright, beautiful selves in Him; our intimate connection to Him, which is our true life, and how also we must be invested and growing things in the garden of this present life and work in it and gets our hands dirty- to labor, as it were, in the field where God is growing things and sowing seeds. To have one without the other is to be out of balance.
And before going inward, asking Jesus, “Where are You?” By which I meant, in what rooms, so that I could go where He was and He replied simply, with you.
And we laughed, because apparently we are easily amused and that never gets old.
I went inward and we were on the front porch and Jesus seemed so restful, so full of peace and I remembered that verse, He will rest in His love for you. And we so we rested together and it was warm and full of light and peaceful.
June 21, 2013-
What do You want me to do? Jesus asked, as we were sitting in the inner room, our leaning back against the wall and watching the leaves move outside. I knew immediately what He meant.
“Break it open."
“The hearts of stone- because inside is the heart of flesh, living, knowing instinctively the ways of God and full of life and open to love. But the stone heart has to break open first, so the living heart can breathe free and begin to reach.”
Where do you want Me to do this?
“All over the earth- for everyone- everyone’s hearts should be opened, to begin to reach out like a little growing plant that comes out of their hearts, reaching for the sun and the light and the rain. Anyway, You are doing this- You are just getting me all caught up in what You are already doing.”
I like company, Jesus said, looking down at me and smiling.
“Then do it,” I whispered into His ear. “Let it be done. Amen, amen, amen.”
June 25, 2013-
We were in the inner room and it seemed to be night and I was worn out from trying to understand something.
You were always with me, Jesus said again- He meant that during His time on earth, He never forgot us and what He was there to do. He carried the thought of us always in His heart.
Jesus looked down at me, speaking strongly. You were with Me every day and you were in My heart as I went up that hill. I married you on Calvary.
And as I heard that phrase, I married you on Calvary, I was suspended by awe. I thought, I have never heard anything more beautiful or more haunting.
I said, “That’s so beautiful. I have to ponder that.” I leaned forward into His arms and looked over His shoulder, my eyes wide, thinking.
“What a profound and gut wrenching thing to say,” I whispered. “What deep meaning that holds.”
So in one sense, it might be that the wedding supper is a corporate celebration of a marriage already accomplished, in that we became one spirit with Jesus through His death and resurrection, this new life being symbolized by the sacrament of baptism and celebrated by the sacrament of communion.
July 2, 2013-
So we are in the middle of an actual adoption and may be placed with a baby girl in September. As soon as I heard that date, it clicked. And how many times has it seemed like Jesus referred to my child as “she?” As if He knew! So now, I really wonder; maybe this is all meant to happen.
Anyway, at night I curled up with Him and it was such a strange feeling- as if I wasn't quite the same person anymore and I had to get used to Jesus again. He was more than usually tender and full of love.
Hello little mother, He said, smiling. But I couldn’t accept it completely, because what if the adoption falls through? How can Jesus be calling me that already? If I believe Him and the adoption fails, then my heart is doubly, unbearably wounded, from two different directions.
July 3, 2013-
“How are You?” I whispered, as I was curled up with Jesus in rest.
Content, He murmured.
“Shall I be coming to You one day?” I whispered, lovingly. “Shall I be going to You, to where You are in those Elysian fields beyond the edge of unseen light?”
You already are, He whispered, smiling.
“So true,” I whispered back, thinking of how the rooms are set in them.
And then a prayer for this unborn little girl that might be mine rose up in me, a prayer that was filled with love and gratitude for Jesus and for my life and all the beauty and the stillness and the moments and the richness of it and conferring all that to her- all the beauty of the moments dropped like rain into her spirit and opening up into light and wonder, that she should wake to the fullness of her life here and now and be drenched with the beauty of this earth and to be filled with His healing and comfort in her soul as she grows into herself, all her life.
Would you live your own life all over again? He whispered.
“You know that I would,” I breathed. “I would live it all over again, even knowing everything- just to know You, and to be in this life so richly, and knowing in the suffering that mortal life is so short in the light of eternity, and deepening to my spirit and that You would be with me every step of the way, loving me and guiding me and revealing Yourself to me.”
July 6, 2013-
“I know Your expressions so well,” I said softly, as I saw Jesus clearer- the way He smiled, the way the happiness on His face grew bright, the way He looked down and then up, His glance searching and still, His eyes open to mine.
Why is that? He asked, smiling.
“Because in some spiritual way that I can't fully understand now, it is as though I am married to You,” I admitted, as this is a thing Jesus is frequently teaching me but also something I find hard to wrap my mind around, though it is also the most wonderful thing ever to contemplate.
And what does it mean?
I sighed happily. “Ah, what it does it mean!” I paused and deeply considered, curled up in His arms on the couch. “It means, first of all, that You created me and everyone else for that. You dreamed us up, because You wanted the fullness of You- the body of Christ- Your own flesh and blood, and so You created us- so corporately we are together Your spouse.”
Yes, but right now I’m talking to you.
“Yes,” I whispered, awed.
What else does it mean?
Again, I considered- I knew what He wanted me to say, because the answer was echoing all through my spirit, but I was relishing the thought of it. Jesus liked it too- so much He couldn’t wait for me to say it.
It’s a covenant, Jesus declared, Himself full of both joy and reverence for this relationship that He loves.
“Yes,” I whispered. “It’s a covenant relationship, so it can never be broken, because it’s made by Your blood. You married me on Calvary.”
And what does that mean? He asked again.
“It means to be one spirit with You- completely and exclusively belonging to each other, given to each other. Like the man and the woman in mortal marriage become one flesh, in spiritual marriage, we become one spirit with You and what God has made one spirit, nothing and not anything can ever break apart, because that covenant was completed entirely through You and nothing can ever separate us from the love of God that is fully in You."
July 23, 2013-
I spent a lot of time simply gazing at Him, trying to get used to Jesus all over again, after a long absence from the communion of the inner place. He was so quiet, very still- letting me come so close.
Jenny, He kept saying. Jenny. I love you. You know Me.
And I did know Him! He was so familiar! This sense of recognition is a significant part of the joy of seeing Jesus- it never grows old. I threw my arms around Him in joy. “Jesus, I love You! I love You, You beloved Son, well pleasing and dearly familiar,” I whispered to Him, ardently. “I do know You- You sharply dividing Word of God.”
Yours, He reminded me, His voice full of love.
“Yes, You are mine-" I was able to accept this with tender love and not with arguing- which I would have done before. But He says that because Jesus gave everything He had for us and bound Himself to us, so He is ours.
"You are my Savior, the Son of God and Lord of Hosts, mighty in battle..."
And then I wondered about His battles, and He reminded me of the cross and this verse: "God [or Christ; L He] ·stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority [L disarmed/despoiled the rulers and authorities]. With the cross, he won the victory and ·showed the world that they were powerless [publicly shamed them; made a public spectacle of them; C like a triumphant general displaying his captives in a victory parade]." Colossians 2:15, EXB
“I love Your fighting style,” I whispered to Jesus- because anyone can win by strength and dominance. Only God wins all by being lifted up into complete vulnerability and sacrificial love.
August 3, 2013-
We stood and behind Him, through the walls of the house and over the lower field, I could see glory breaking through the sky, white and orange and gold, like the sun through clouds. But I knew it was not the clouds, it was the glory of God breaking through, as if I could see through into another realm or layer, like I had before. But this time, it was too far and I felt too shy to try and piece the light with my eyes.
I didn’t know if I was supposed to be going toward the light or if Jesus would be taking me there, but I thought it would be impolite to ask, and decided to just be in the moment where we were. So I took His hand and took a step away, because we were going to go swimming.
But Jesus held back, holding my hand. Jenny, He said, so quietly.
I turned to Him and stopped and simply looked at Jesus and He looked at me, His face and eyes open, undefended. Jesus stood between the slender pillars of the front room, His bare feet on the stone floor, His face full of undefended love, and behind Him and over His right shoulder, the glory was breaking through the dark sky. I let myself be present to Jesus- in that moment, no words were needed, no action, nothing but loving, open presence.
I was drawn slowly back toward Jesus; I leaned against Him and wrapped my arms around His shoulders and I called Him by name.
“I love You, Jesus- You Son of God, You Son of David, You Son of Man,” I whispered to Him. “You carpenter, You Nazarene, You Prophet, You Galilean, You Rabbi. You Messiah, You King of kings- fully human and fully divine and right here with me.”
As I said this, all my love for Him was welling up, and words were welling up. His face was so astonishingly vivid and so human. My awareness that He was Jesus, the Anointed of God, was in me strongly, and I was able to keep that in my mind at the same time that I was keeping my awareness of how we relate to one another- through an unbreakable covenant made in His blood- one that makes us one spirit- so I live in Him and He lives in me.
I remembered how this covenant means that I am His alone and I give my worship and adoration freely, completely and exclusively to Jesus, my adoration being like the outflow of the living waters that rise up from the most deep places of my spirit to be poured out on Him, because they come from Him in the first place. And so I am His spring shut up, His fountained sealed only to Him. And I thought about how I am allowed to console Jesus, comfort Him, delight in and cherish Him, learn from Him, to worship and adore Him and most commonly, to rest in His love and to welcome Him to rest in mine.
When we were in the inner room, I was caught up in looking at Jesus, because I was seeing His entire face so heart-stoppingly clearly. It always surprises and overwhelms me to realize that Jesus looks like one specific, human person. He has a beautiful profile. I love when I see His face half turned away, a slight smile on His face, His eyes down turned, the creases at the corners of His eyes and the dimple at the corner of His mouth and His dark eyelashes.
And I thought, my God! I am looking at Jesus. The Jesus that walked the earth, that had a ministry in Judea and Galilee, Jesus who was crucified, who multiplied the loaves and fishes- I am looking at Him.
I threw myself down face first, in worship and adoration and delight and gratitude and He bent tenderly down over me and He said, Jenny. He wanted me to sit up- not because it is wrong to worship Him prostrate, but He often prefers to see face to face. But just then, I wanted only to lie there, abandoning myself in worship and gratitude to Him, for that moment, for the entire experience, the whole thing. Then He gently pulled me up by the shoulders and I came up willingly and looked at Him again and again, love and wonder washed over me.
“I want something…” I admitted.
What do you want? Tell me, Jesus urged me, so tenderly, because this request had been coming up and coming up and I’d started to ask this already several times, but I hardly knew how to put it into words, and so I had stopped.
“I want to know You better, I want to see You more clearly in the gospels,” I admitted- because I realized that’s what I wanted- I wanted to take the way I knew Him so intimately, so vividly, just then, with me into the gospels and thereby see even more deeply into His heart, to understand Him better.
He smiled; this smile spread across His face and lit up in His dancing, teasing eyes. It is there that you want to see Me even more clearly? He asked, referring back to the fact that already, I had asked that- several times, in fact, over the years and already, I have increasingly seen Him clearly there.
You don’t want to know Me, risen, transfigured and glorified, better? He asked, drawing my mind back to His transfigured self, speaking with such tender good humor. It was as though it pleased Jesus in some tender way that I wasn’t asking to understand the hidden glories of heaven and how He is there, those things being far beyond me anyway. I still wanted to know His life on earth.
“I want to know You in every way better,” I admitted. “In the gospels and in the world and as Yourself. But I love Your human story."
I was looking into His face, seen so clearly and as I was looking at Jesus this way, it was as if the stories I’d known for so long were opening up through Him, and the first story that came to me was Jesus washing the feet of the disciples.
It was as if I was seeing two things at once: both the face of Jesus before me in the inner room, and I saw Jesus kneeling at the feet of the apostles and I saw as He begin to wash their feet, and how He looked up into their face and as I saw this, I felt His love for them welling up in Jesus and it was shocking to me- how specific and personal His love was for each one of those men- He knew them exactly as who they were, their specific personality, character, life history and Jesus loved them with this love that is beyond words.
Each one of those men, as He washed their feet, He loved with this kind of exact, personal, specific love that had no end and no way to measure it. He had no shortage of love and He did not withhold any love and it was tender and personal to each them, as Jesus saw them, exactly as they were- those men that were His, who had a specific and very important purpose in His plan, in His gathering of the called out, that He had called by name, to follow Him. Jesus had taught them and guided them and kept them, for three years, through all kinds of intense experiences and Jesus knew all their misunderstandings and mistakes and hopes and fears and wordless longings.
I was feeling this wordless understanding of His intense love for those men, and I was looking at His face in the inner room, and I saw tears well up in His eyes and trickle down, as if the love within Him, as He was remembering, or being in that moment, overflowed His heart. And in sympathy, my heart broke open and then there was this rush of things which poured into me- grief after grief, all adding up and growing greater as Jesus went through His ministry and into His Passion.
It was so much that I had no words and could not comfort Him, because I was floundering in it, so Jesus comforted me, by assuring me that it would all be made right and whole. And then, I tried to steady myself a little, after all that emotion had poured through me, from Jesus and then I looked at His face, calm but with His eyes rimmed red and I wanted to know more- to see more of those stories from the inside out, as it were.
And as I thought this, or felt my spirit reach out for it, because of the beauty of His face, because He is Jesus and I can’t seem to get enough of Him- and this kind of tender, loving joy broke all through His face and He burst into laughter, but almost still tearful, because the tail end of the grief that was still easing from Him- His face still wet from tears.
Will you never have enough of Me? Jesus cried, the laughter running through His voice.
“No, I’ll always want more of You,” I admitted soberly, as though it were something I had to confess. “I can’t help it. I always want more of You."
And I remembered Jesus turning the water into wine, and again, His laughter rose up in Him and Jesus said to me, His voice rich with laughter, That was a very good day.
“You thought of me every day,” I said, remembering when He had said that.
“And You did carry me with You in Your heart and You did marry me on Calvary,” I continued.
Yes, I did, He affirmed.
And I was caught up in worship and adoration of Him, but it was already late at night and my head hurt from exhaustion. Jesus whispered to me, rest, but I didn't want to let go in order to sleep.
“We’ll always be together,” I whispered to Him.
“That is what You said to them, before You ascended- “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” I whispered.
“I felt so lonely every time I read about Your ascension…” I began, but Jesus didn't let me finish.
But I’ve brought you here, Jesus said, quickly, strongly.
“Yes… You brought me up,” I acknowledged, thinking about the wonder of it all over again and then my thoughts went back to the loneliness before, when I had been reading through the Bible on a yearly plan as a teenager. “I was so lonely when I read about You leaving them,” I mused, again. “Acts was the saddest book in the Bible, and I never liked it, even though they did so many incredible things. I just wanted to go back to when You were with them."
You’re here now, Jesus assured me, again, tenderly.
“Yes,” I said, “I’m with You and I’ll always be with You and we’ll only grow closer and closer together as time goes on and then we’ll be fully and completely together."
Yes, that time will come, that will happen, Jesus replied, His voice sure. Rest now.
“I don’t want to sleep,” I admitted, though I was so tired. “I want to keep on seeing Your face. Will I see Your face this clearly again? Will I always be able to come to You?”
You’re always with Me. We are never apart. You can always come to Me. I am always here with you.
Then I let myself drift away and into other things, though I still felt His presence all around me in the night, and I fell into sleep and in the morning, when I woke up and I was almost too shy to go to Him.
When I did, Jesus caught me up tightly in His arms and His face was beautiful, clear, full of merriment. See? Jesus teased, lovingly. Here you are.
And this feeling of love, relief, shyness and delight went washing through me and I felt shy with Jesus all over again, to be that close to Him- the shyness being part of the delight.
March 8, 2014-
I read about how the well of Jacob in Samaria is the one place on all earth where one can draw a circle of a few feet and say confidently that Jesus of Nazareth’s feet stood in that spot. Whether or not that is true, I don't know, but the longing! The weight of longing that I should go there, and throw myself down on the ground, or to place my head upon the well, or to put my hand in the dust- the longing to do these ridiculous things being in themselves an expression of a greater longing- that by being in a physical place where He once stood, I could come close to Jesus Himself.
I was caught up in the barbs of this longing as I was in the kitchen, and just in that moment, Jesus said to me- Don’t worship that spot! It's simply a physical place that I passed through and I do not remain there; spiritually I live in you and you in Me- therefore you are sacred, whereas the well is just a well. Pour your longing and adoration directly to Me- I’m right here with you.
I had read that humanity's greatest crown is free will, which I thought was an interesting way to put it, and then I remembered the joy of crowns- which is of course, to cast them down at His feet.
Then I remembered that Jesus said that He could do nothing except what He saw Abba doing- that Jesus always and only acts in accordance with the Father's will. So Jesus' free will is freely subsumed by Abba, which sounds like death of self, but in actuality is the finding of true self.
Which made me think about how often Jesus said that whosoever would find his life would lose it and whosoever would lose their life would find it. To give up one's free will seems like death of self.
But what if that death of self is necessary? What if that self is actually a false self, and the true self lives in God and is only found by that complete surrender of will?
This is a hard thing for me to grasp, because I live in a time and in a culture where freedom of self expression is one of the highest, most celebrated virtues; submission of will- even a willing submission of self out of love, is considered suspect.
But what if, what looks at a distance to be death is actually fullness of life and what appears to be bondage is actually to be set free indeed- the freedom of heirs, growing into the fullness of Christ Himself- Christ who lives only through God, and God who is made manifest and perfectly interpreted through Jesus, and the Spirit of truth, which is perhaps this movement of God, Their Spirit passing through, revealing and speaking each of the other- just as Jesus said- the Comforter comes from Abba, but will testify of Jesus. It seems as though Their mutual, complete and joyful surrender to each other is the way in which They are the most fully expressed.
The degree to which this is true, I do not know. But I pondered it and when I went inward, I drew on these wonderings as I worshiped.
“I am given by Abba and I am received by You,” I whispered to Jesus, as we rested together in the front room. This was a saying rich with meaning, and I had to repeat it slowly many times to let it sink in. “I am given of God and I am received of God. I am given and I am received by You-
"I do not know myself out of You; out of You I do not exist. There is no me apart from You- You alone define and uphold my existence, my very self. In Your death, I have died to myself and I live only in You- only in You is my life, my self, found. All that I am is Yours and is therefore sacred- because You sanctified Yourself for my sake, therefore I am sanctified to You- my flesh and blood, my heart and soul- all are suffused by You and belong only to You. You live all in me and I all in You.”
And my faith was expanded out in such a way that I was able to understand that I was at that very moment with Jesus- sometimes I think to myself- I am with only a part of Jesus now, when I pass through death I shall be wholly with Him.
But in that moment, I was able to understand that this wasn't true. I was actually in that moment with Jesus- the full comprehension of that state requiring more than my own strength to grasp. That verse that speaks of the strength to comprehend the love of Christ, I have new appreciation for it.
And this knowledge was so much in me that I began to cry and the feeling only grew until I was sobbing- the feeling being too much to be otherwise expressed, and the light around us was so bright that I could not see past His shoulders or beyond His arms, and the light was shining from or around His face so brightly that I could not see Him.
And Jesus was whispering things to me as though He were breathing them; He was whispering oh precious and treasured, beloved, My own, My little one, ah darling and dear to Me- I died for this- to be this way, in this perfect communion of love, for you are created in My own image, you are made in My own likeness, in order always to be wholly with Me and I with you.
There the image of all that we might be is treasured. Thither we must go, to be conformed to that secret Pattern, if we would find our true selves, at last make actual the transcendent personality which every Christian has in Christ. There, in that transfigured humanity, we are gathered up; there, as the beggar maid by Cophetua, we are crowned. We “come to ourselves” indeed: to find in dependence on God the essence of our long-sought liberty and in His eternal service that perfect freedom which belongs only to the prisoners of love. And now we see why it is that His grace can only be upon the humble. Exaltavit humiles: for they alone resist not, nor oppose with their cleverness the mysterious operations of the Will. They claim not to do “anything of themselves” and hence are the instruments of His pleasure, the elect vessels of His inflowing Life. When one of these, says Mechthild of Magdeburg, completes her journey and is caught up to God, she can no longer remember the earth and the sorrows of the past. She cares nothing for her glory, nothing for the battles she has won. But she takes the crown from her head, and lays it amongst the roses at His Feet; and asks only one thing, that she may come a little nearer.
-The Spiral Way, by Evelynn Underhill, Fifth Triumphant Mystery: The Coronation