Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 1st

“How painfully I long for you
When you want to spare me;
This all creatures would not be able to express to you fully
If they were to lament on my behalf;
For I suffer inhuman anguish.
Human death I would find more pleasant.

I seek you with my thoughts
As a maiden secretly does her lover.
I shall fall terribly sick from this,
For I am bound to you.
The bond is stronger than I am,
Thus I cannot become free of love.
I cry out to you in great longing,
A lonely voice;
I hope for your coming with heavy heart,
I cannot rest,
I am on fire,
Unquenchable in your burning love.
I pursue you with all my might.
If I had the strength of a giant
And if I got onto your trail,
Still I would quickly lose your tracks.
Please, my Love, run not so far ahead of me
And tarry a while in love,
So that I can catch you.
Please, Lord, just as you have taken from me
all things that I have from you,
Leave me, at least, through grace that same gift
That you have given to dogs through their nature-
That I might be loyal to you in my misery,
Free of all discontent.
This I do indeed desire
More than I yearn for heaven."

"My dear Dove, now listen to me!
My divine wisdom is so utterly upon you
That I direct all my gifts to you,
As much as your frail body can bear.
Your secret sighs shall reach me.
Your heart's anguish can compel me.
Your sweet pursuit shall so exhaust me
That I shall yearn to cool myself
In your limpid soul,
To which I have been bound.
The sighs and tremors of your wounded heart
Have driven out my justice from you.
That suits you quite well, as it does me:
I cannot be without you.
No matter how far we are apart,
We can still never be really separated.”

-Mechthild of Magdeburg

November 21, 2011-

So, last night I was suffused with sheer longing, unbearable longing, wordless longing. It crippled my soul. I had no words for this longing- I just poured it out to Him. I don't know what it is I want-

I want to shake off this life like clay. But it's not because life isn't good. Life is good. I keep feeling like I'm being ungrateful.

He's given me so much in this life. I have a wonderful husband that I love, for one thing, who relies on me and provides for me and loves me deeply.

I have every comfort and my health and a reasonable intelligence and interesting things to consider and interesting things to write.

Also, I just like being alive. I love the sunlight, the changing beauty of nature, the sounds of music and of silence, the taste of good, fatty food and creamy coffee.

I like life. I'm not depressed, or anything.

But still, I want to shake it all off and just go to Jesus already. My goodness. Even if I can't shake it all off, I want more and more and more of Him.

No matter how much of Jesus I get, I want more. I want to know Him better, to see Him more clearly, to understand how He and the Father work. I want to be closer to Him, bound up in Him, hidden deep within Him, defined by Him and kept by Him.

I know I already am all those things. Maybe I just want to feel it more consciously.

But how can I ask that? My goodness! I already feel it. I'm already conscious of His presence and of His love. Jesus talks to me, for goodness sake. What more do I want from Him? Why can't I just be satisfied?

But I can't help it! My hunger keeps welling up. I keep talking to Jesus about this. It's all I can do. I keep offering up everything, the whole thing. It must be that He's giving me this hunger for Him. If He's giving me this hunger, He will satisfy it.

December 10, 2011-

I have this deep, unquenched need to be close, close, close to Christ. I want to matter to Him. It drives me nuts, that I can’t be content. But Jesus whispered to me that my faith was His work and changing that desire and need is beyond my capacity. I must hand it over, again and again, and let Him perfect and craft it and turn it to His own purpose, which is what I am sure He will do.

I kept being still and feeling His love of me. His love was alive in me, all through me, spreading outward from my spirit, which is in His Spirit. Often, lately, I feel Jesus wrapping His arms around me and putting His face in my hair, and then, for that moment, I feel that I am all wrapped up in Him. I am cradled close in His arms.

I think- my goodness, Jesus loves me! He loves me just as I am, just in this way, with all this brokenness and need and broken thoughts. Jesus loves me so much that He does not hesitate to take me right into His arms and hold me right against His heart. His love is extraordinary.

I think, yes, I will do this. I will be awake and present in this life, this longing, moment by moment. I will be in this heaviness, this confusion, I will see through this cloudy mirror that hinders my perfect sight of what it true. I will be refined by this experience, enlarged and deepened by it.

I reach out and grab hold Christ, to lean on Him who walks beside me, who is in this life with me, and He feels what I feel. So I am not bound down and hindered alone, subjected to being tempered and pruned alone.

So I keep making that choice, again and again. But I don't like my imperfections, I don't like living in them. But, what is more true, what is the deeper truth, is that I don't live in those imperfections, I live in Christ. Whether I live here or whether I live There- I live in Christ. That is where my true self lies, all bound up and safe in Him and He will get me safely through.

December 22, 2011-

In the night, Jesus held me very close. He told me that He made me for that purpose- so that He could hold me very close. I was His own, His little dove, and that His own desire was the same as mine- that we should be bound up together and close always. Jesus wishes me to yield to Him as much as I wish to, or more.

It is a perfect symmetry of design and purpose. Jesus kept telling me, over and over again, that He satisfies perfectly the desires of the heart, for everyone. Each time He said this, joy like a flame just filled my soul. I all but clapped my hands from the delight of it.

Everyone is unique and for each person, Jesus fulfills their yearning desire for Him, in a way which is perfectly suited to them, to the way He made them.

He caused me to remember my fears that our best times were behind us, and the joy again burned like a flame all through me. I saw and knew that my fears were groundless. He took fierce joy in my joy and it was as though for a moment, we were consumed by joy.

Again, my desperate desire to be with Him, all the time, burned up and I tried to stifle it. But He urged me to pour my heart out to Him, so I did. I cried out to Him, from the depths of my heart.

And Jesus told me, again and again, that His desire was the same as mine- He also desired that I should be with Him and close to Him, always, each moment now and through eternity- that He created me both to want that and to fulfill that for me.

Two years later, Spring, 2013-

I had a dream that I had written down somewhere, but I can’t find it. I can remember it though.

In the dream, I stumbled across this tiny village of shoe boxes. Whenever someone was going to join their community, Jesus came down in person, introduced the new member and remained with them for a few days, getting the new member acquainted and settled in. I could not believe that I had found a physical place where Jesus visited.

“I want very much to see Him; is there any way that can be arranged?” I asked, trying to hide my excitement.

They were happy to help. They said that the next day, at two o’clock in the afternoon, I should go to a certain place on the hill. When I was there, I was to pour out my heart to Jesus and the next day, at the same place and at the same time, He would come down. That was the way they called Jesus when they needed Him to come down for a new member.

Eventually the time came the next day to head off to the hillside. It was a line of tori gates standing in the grass. I passed under them and came to an open place at the last gate. I had no worries about my being able to pour my heart out to Jesus, that being second nature to me. I let my longing rise up unimpeded.

Immediately after, I saw a platform descending down- it was like I was looking through a television screen, so I saw things as they appeared from the top of the screen and slowly descended into view. I knew nothing was supposed to happen right away- that the community had explained that Jesus came the next day, but I didn’t care and didn’t think about it again until later.

I saw feet on the platform and then the hem of a white robe and then over it, the hem of a red mantel of some sort-  everything looking all very traditional, things I've seen in many religious pictures of Jesus. I saw hands and loose white sleeves and shoulders.

I can’t really describe how much anticipation was building up in me as this was happening- my heart was pounding in my chest. I was terrified of finally seeing Him in person, and in an anguish of longing and love all at the same time. I was like a coil primed to spring- I was burning up like an electric wire.

When this face came into view, I knew immediately that this was not Jesus. This face was all wrong- the mouth weak and sensual, the face lacking integrity, quiet authority or tenderness- the eyes were flat, instead of the light filled openness of Jesus’ own eyes.

But in the end, it didn’t matter what face was presented to me, I just knew by the jangling in my spirit, like fingernails across a chalkboard, that this was not Jesus.

I drew myself up to my full height and raised my hand and pointed at this person. "You are not Jesus," I declared, with furious indignation.

"I know, I know," this person whined, "but I just wanted a little taste..."

I had no further thought or interest in this person. I had really and truly believed that at last I was going to see Jesus in person, fully and now I knew I was not. This disappointment dropped me down on the grass; I was on my hands and knees on the grass, choking on this bitter disappointment.


I thought that I had poured my heart out earlier- it turned out, I hadn’t yet begun. My longing was so great that there was no voice for me to speak it. It was like those dreams where you are trying to run, but you can’t make your legs move. I was trying to give expression to my longing, but it wouldn’t get past my throat and I couldn’t shape the words around it.

This longing was so urgent that it broke the dream apart and I woke up, groggy and the first thing that I remembered was not the disappointment, but the thought that there was physically some place on earth where I could go to meet Jesus and that I knew the way this worked! The next moment, I remembered that it was only a dream and could not work.

I was caught up in disappointment all over again.

June 13, 2013-

I got seriously unnerved, because I was thinking of that dream where I wanted Jesus to be coming down out of the sky and it wasn’t really Him and even though, even in the dream, I knew immediately that it wasn’t Him, I still got unnerved thinking about it because the way I am with Jesus is so… unconventional is not even the word for it.

I was getting all tangled up in my fears and the seeing was buckling, and because of my fears, I couldn’t find the loving center and I whispered, “Jesus!”

And immediately Jesus pulled me onto His lap and wrapped His arms around me- so I was warmly and protectively wrapped up and bent His head to my ear and began to speak to me, over and over again.

You know me, Jesus assured me, and He drew my mind back to the tenth chapter of John. I am the Good Shepherd, Jesus said, soothingly. I know My sheep and am known by them. Anyone who came before Me, who did not enter through the door is a thief. I am the door of the sheep. Anyone who enters through Me will be saved, will go in and out and find pasture. I am the Good Shepherd. I lay down My life for the sheep. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to take it up and to lay it down. I received this authority from My Father. He loves Me because of this, that I lay My life down for the sheep. No one can take them from Me, because My Father is greater than all, and no one can take them from His hand. My sheep hear My voice and follow Me and the voice of a stranger they will not follow, but will run from him, for the voice of a stranger they do not know. I know My sheep and am known by them. No one can take them out of My hand.

I was saying these things with Him- Jesus would say them and then I would say them. Some of the phrases we repeated several times, and my fear went gradually down and disappeared and then I turned my head and looked up at His tender, kind face, so full of love.

And I loved Him so much, there are no words.

June 19, 2013-

Last night, Jesus seemed to be full of grief- but from what, I do not know. We were in the inner room and it was quiet and shadowed outside, as it if were nightfall.  I remember Him looking at me, a line of tears loosened from His eyes and running down His cheek.

“Come here,” I invited, lifting my arms and He came so easily, without any false dignity.

Thank you, Jesus said.

“For what?”

For loving Me, He replied.

I thought this was an astonishing thing for Jesus to say- it seems to me that I cannot help loving Him, but I did not argue, though it was tempting. I tried to accept Jesus just as He was coming to me, or being with me- even if it was beyond my understanding and far outside my box.

“But I can’t help it…?” I asked, tentatively.

You choose Me, He replied, and of course, I realized that this was true.

I had chosen, each time and over and over, to surrender to my longing instead of to push it aside or to medicate it, and of course, I delight in Jesus.

(In thinking about further, as I was writing this blog, I realized that at each stage of my life, when I could and to the degree that I was able- which sometimes was not much- I chosen forgiveness, mercy and compassion- because I had wanted to keep my heart open and living. It didn't matter if I couldn't do it very well at first, what mattered was that I was making the choice as best I could at the time and that I continue to grow.)

The theme of rejection ran through our time together; it must have been coming up for Jesus. I, of course, have no idea specifically why. But Jesus reminded me of that verse- that He was rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and that this continued in some way.

I knew how painful it was to be rejected- especially to be authentic and to be rejected for one’s authentic self. Jesus, you might say, wore His heart on His sleeve- He put everything out on the line. So when He is rejected, it’s all the way through Him- I would guess. He was and is not “cool,” in the sense of being detached, hip or sophisticated. He is too genuine for it; He can't pretend.

The tears were streaming down His face- there was no offense or anger in Him, only sorrow. I said lovingly, “Be as You are; I accept You as You are, come here and I will comfort You.”

And Jesus wept in my arms. He said, you are a friend to Me, with such loving simplicity.

And suddenly this whole insight just swept over me. Being His friend meant, in part, that I was someone who comforts and loves and sees and delights in and is delighted in- a safe and loving place to be.

I whispered into His ear. “I’m Your very own, Jesus. I’m entirely Yours.”

June 19, 2013-

I felt Him reach down and pull me through; the rooms were full of light and warmth. We were in the front room and it was peaceful and quiet.

Jesus reminded me of all the ways I have been growing in my relationship with Him.

Even when you find My way of being disconcerting to you, You accept Me, Jesus said to me- You are with Me in My pain, in My grief, when I am rejected, and in My scars. You no longer push this away; you simply open your heart to Me. You are with Me in that.

“Yes,” I acknowledged. I could not argue; He was being too serious and I couldn't be falsely modest. It seemed like an insult and I knew what He was saying was true. “I know that You are stretched out between the pain, brokenness and sickness of the present, and Your perfect faith in the Father’s plan, through You, to heal and restore all, to take away all the sorrow and the pain.”

Will you be with Me in that waiting? Jesus asked- it was such a quiet request- it came right out of His heart. I knew He meant, would I feel with Him, so that He wasn’t alone in it. He meant- to be awake. Immediately, I thought of how Jesus said that anyone who would follow Him must take up their cross, that where He is, there His servant will be.

It was a solemn question. I knew that I had learned a lesson and because I had learned it, Jesus was offering me a deeper communion, and that to be with Jesus in that pain, to remain awake to it, would be hard- my heart would be broken. But my heart said yes before even my mouth did.

“Yes, I will,” I answered, “but I’m worried…”

My yoke is easy and My burden is light, Jesus assured me, before I even completed the thought- I was worried that the burden of His suffering would crush me and that I would fail Him, and I would be so ashamed by this failure that I would be unable to come to Him afterward.

But He mostly wants companionship, I think- Jesus is carrying almost all the weight on His shoulders; we are simply yoked in next to Him, to follow in His way and learn from Him, to keep Him company and to keep watch with Him- like in Gethsemane.

June 26, 2013-

When I came inward, it was quiet and still in the inner place, in the front room. I sat down on the couch and said to Jesus, “Come here and rest with me,” because I remembered Jesus had nowhere to lay His head and He came over and sunk down into rest. He almost seemed to be asleep, except I don't think that's really possible.

I looked up and the light was golden and warm; everything was hazy. I looked past the front room at the light drenched, peaceful landscape, the line of trees blurred with distance and down through the far pasture to the brown stream and the line of trees even further away and I knew the ocean was there, cool and blue white, falling on the shore.

I thought about how I lived in the inner rooms with Jesus, and how I know Him when He is like this- just resting, or when He is grieved and in pain, and when He is caught up in white flame and how I see Jesus when He is being playful or humorous or tender- how in general, I know Him in such a personal way. I thought about how delicious that is, to be present in all that, to be the place where He lays His head to rest in the quietness of His inner rooms.

I felt so peaceful, watching the green pastures and remembering how they went on through the bands of trees and then I realized that our house was set into green pastures and still waters.

The words of that psalm began to echo in my head and I let the lines come up slowly in my spirit and I savored them, thought about them and I whispered them quietly into the warm air- how He anoints my head with oil, and restores my soul, how He has prepared a table in the presence of my enemies and how goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will live in His house now and forever.

Far out to sea, clouds began to billow up- I could see them forming. I felt a cool breeze on my face and it ruffled through His hair and through the leaves. I lifted my face up the breeze and smelled the rain on it and felt the coolness of moisture on the air.

The rain broke in this wonderful, thundering downpour. My face was wet with the spray hitting inside on the stone floor. I could hear it on the roof and it was going in sheets over the grass. Then the down pour became gentle and then softly dropping and there was this lovely sound of water running off the roof onto the stone and into the grass- like deep, soft chimes from every direction.

Eight months later, January 12, 2014-

I was thinking of how, in the Spiritual Canticle by St. John of the Cross, Jesus was described like a hart or a deer- because Jesus can be shy and solitary and comes and goes quickly. Which must be only one side of Him, as in the Gospels, He also clearly enjoys being around other people, eating and drinking and enjoying who they are.

But I love so much His reserve, His humble and simple dignity that flows out of who He is. I love it because it is such a compelling, wonderful thing when compared to the fire of His unreserved love, and because I used to think that Jesus was only ever formal, forceful, angry and enigmatic. But I have never known Him to make only short visits.

“You make Yourself so available to me,” I said slowly, considering it in light of what I had just read that day. “Anytime I want to come to You, You are here and I can come to You and love You and know You. Why am I allowed to know You this way- to be with You like this?”

Your longing would be unbearable otherwise, Jesus told me. If I did not give Myself to you now, your longing would be too great a burden for your spirit to carry.

I remembered that first winter, the longing so great that I could hardly walk and had to stop walking in the park and wrap my arms around myself and groan aloud from the sheer aching pain of this longing that was like a weight, a hunger for something I couldn’t even articulate, but I knew it was found in Him.

I had looked up and saw a bright opening in the clouds where the light was shining down, lighting up the edges and I thought, which such yearning, if only that were an opening into heaven, the door to where He was- if I could find a stairway and go up it.

At that time, Jesus whispered to me that I myself- my spirit- was a living opening to His presence. The door to heaven, as it were, was not outside myself, somewhere unreachable in the sky, but my own spirit was the open door- because my spirit was alive in Him, so where He was, I was.

This filled me with wonder and hope, but at the time, I didn’t know how true that was, or how to go through the door, or how to see on the other side of it.

And I remembered crying in the night, my pillow wet from tears, from the sheer pain of the longing that had woken up in me. I had cried out to Jesus in anger, bewilderment and desperation, “Why am I like this? What are You doing to me? What do You want from me?”

The only answer I had gotten was the sight of a thin curtain or veil, and behind the veil was Jesus, filled with grief over this longing that He also felt, and His grief at my pain in it. As I was seeing this, Jesus reminded me of the chapter I had just read that day in John in the Phillips version; how Jesus had groaned within Himself when the people in the crowd had wondered why, if Jesus had loved Lazareth that much, had He not healed His beloved friend instead of letting him die?

But at the time, it was too much for me to believe and I rejected the idea that Jesus could long for me as much or more than I longed for Him, and be grieving over the separation and the misunderstanding that arose from it. I did not let it comfort me. Now, three years later and so close to Him, I could believe it.

“Where does the longing come from?” I asked Jesus.

I awoke it, He replied quietly.

Wonder washed through me as I considered what that meant. “You mean, it was always in me?”

Always- before you were born- when you were only in My thoughts, even then, it was inherent to your nature, Jesus assured me. And when the time came, I awoke it and I brought you to Myself.


"At this level, the commandment of love is no regulation; it is a statement of the truth of life. It is an invitation to accept love's passion, commit oneself to it, and try to live it wholeheartedly. The greatest commandments are not obligations at all, but affirmations of grace. They are promises that with our willing assent, grace will make possible the triumph of full, unfettered love within us.

"Our assent, our yes, finally comes from nothing other than our own yearning, from passion itself. It may surface temporarily as desire for self-improvement, functional efficiency, moral virtue, or social justice, but ultimately it will take us beyond and beneath all such ends. Love will bring us to our ever-present beginning, where our only reason for saying yes is simply that we want to. Here it is only our plain desire that makes true assent possible: the desire to respond to a larger love already given, the desire to love and to be loved and to be fully, consciously present in love as an end in itself. It is a matter of simple caring, our hearts aching for the fullness of love for no other reason than its own essential goodness. In this simple, exquisite longing, awakening in each precious moment, we know who we really are. It is the likeness of God."

-The Awakened Heart, Bearing the Beams of Love, by Gerald May