On the inner journey of the soul we meet a God who interacts with our deepest selves, who grows the person, allowing and forgiving mistakes. It is precisely this give-and-take, and knowing there will be give-and-take, that makes God so real as a Lover.
You know only unbearable yearning. You have forgotten that the longing itself is the answer to the longing, that in the very crying out for the Holy One, the Holy One is pouring herself into you. —Mirabai Starr
Contemplation is nothing other than a secret, peaceful, loving inflow of God. If given room, it will fire the soul in the spirit of love.
—John of the Cross
I would not sacrifice my soul / for all the beauty of this world. / There is only one thing / for which I would risk everything: / an I-don’t-know-what / that lies hidden / in the heart of the Mystery. —John of the Cross
Mystics experience a full-bodied embrace of Divine Love and acceptance, and then spend their lives trying to verbalize and embody that. They invariably find ways to give that love back through forms of service and worship, but it’s never earning the love—it’s always returning the love. —Richard Rohr
If we stay the course and go through this [dark night], we find our way deeper, deeper, deeper, and then we can see that at any given moment in these ways, through marital love, through parenting, through solitude, through oneness with the world, through silence, through service to community, through art, in any given moment, there can come flashing forth our unexpected proximity to this mystical dimension of union. —James Finley
In season three of CAC’s podcast Turning to the Mystics, James Finley and Mirabai Starr read “Song of the Soul” or “Noche Oscura” by John of the Cross. We invite you to follow the link below to listen to or read this poem shared in both English and Spanish by two modern day mystics and students of John’s teachings.
Listen or read the first time and allow the sound and images of the poem wash over you.
Listen or read a second time and allow your attention to be drawn to a word or phrase. Let it speak to you. Pray to God or journal about what it might mean to you.
Listen or read a third time. Sit in silence with God for as long as you feel drawn.
James Finley and Mirabai Starr with Kirsten Oates, “Turning to St. John of the Cross,” March 8, 2021, in Turning to the Mystics, season 3 (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2021), podcast, MP3 audio.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Mirabai Starr’s new book Saint John of the Cross: Luminous Darkness.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Untitled Window (detail), 2021, photograph, New Mexico, used with permission. Dorothea Lange, Village Dwelling (detail), 1936, photograph, Library of Congress, public domain. Jenna Keiper, Untitled Window II (detail), 2021, photograph, New Mexico, used with permission. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.
This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: The house in the center image is shut against the harsh sun. It is closed and dark inside. Yet darkness can hold deep beauty and its own kind of light, creating conditions for healing and illumination. After our dark night we may be invited to gently lift the blinds.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.