Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Love Redux

I was reading an article by J.I. Packer on Mother Teresa's long walk of "Holiness in the Dark" published by the C.S. Lewis Society in the Spring 2009 issue of "Knowing and Doing." I quote from him here,

"There is a problem in the life of holiness
that for many does not arise at
all, for some emerges intermittently,
but for a certain number—more, I suspect,
than ever acknowledge it in any public
way—is virtually lifelong. It is the problem
of felt abandonment by God, the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit, within the frame
of full commitment to God: in other words,
the desolation and seeming desertion of the
deeply devoted."
After an initial twenty years where Mother Teresa felt united with the Lord, there followed a period of fifty years during which she was separated from Him. It was as if the Love of her life had walked out on her. Her letters to her spiritual advisors reflect the struggles of someone who feels that something or someone is missing. She did not want anyone other than her counselors to read these letters, and she had requested that they be destroyed. They are that personal. It is rare to have such a glimpse into the heart of a Saint. Now read her words,

“They say people in hell suffer eternal pain because of the loss of God.
In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss—of God not wanting me—of God not really existing (Jesus, please forgive my blasphemies—I have been told to write everything)…
not a single thought of heaven enters my mind—for there is no hope”

I do not think she felt that she had left Him, rather that for some reason He had gone.

Have you ever had your heart broken?

The love that you thought you had together is abruptly removed. “Come over, we have to talk." "It would be best if we not see each other." "Don't call, don't write, it just is not going to work out, ever." "I don't think this relationship will work." "I am doing this for your own good." "I know that I am hurting you, but you'll get over me.” Door closed.

You don't get over them. You cry. You mourn. Another day dawns, followed by another and another. Life goes on. Years pass, but you know you would take them back in a heartbeat if they ever knocked at your door. She must have loved God this much. The pain of her loss must have been great. Their reunion must have been glorious. That glory resounded in the world in the love expressed by people after her passing.

Kinda makes me think about

God loves me this much and more. He takes me back every time I knock, even when I've hurt him dearly.

Some say that God closed the door on Mother Teresa so that she would look for him in the faces of the poor. When one door closes, another one opens. She cared for them as she cared for Christ.

Back to J.I. Packer

"Was her experience then disciplinary in a biblical sense, that is, planned by God to enhance the quality of her discipleship? Kolodiejchuk seems right to urge that it was.
There are two possibilities here, maybe overlapping (it is not for us to be dogmatic on this point). The divine discipline might be devotional, aimed at deepening the relationship between God’s servant and the triune Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And it might be diaconal, aimed at qualifying the disciple more fully for particular works of ministry to others. The interpretation of Teresa’s experience as devotional discipline seems dubious. What Teresa underwent was certainly not the transitional dark night of the soul as John of the Cross described it, a condition paving the way to deeper union with God, whatever correspondences there may be between the quality of the two experiences as such. For her experience followed a deep-level, years-long enjoyment of union with, in particular, Jesus, the Lord whom she loved, and whose 'little bride' she had seen herself in her youth as being, and once the dryness, desolation, and sense of divine withdrawal had come it was
permanent. But the reality of this as diaconal discipline seems clear. “I really believe,” wrote a counselor, 'that the reason Mother Teresa had to undergo so much darkness in her life is that it would bring about a greater identification with the poor.' Surely so."

Does God ever forsake us for our own sake? Did He shut off His relationship with Sister Teresa so that she would look for Him in the poor?

Would that I could love Him as much as she did them, as much as I loved then, or as much as He loves me.

"I prefer to spend my time in solitary ways
Keeping myself to myself
Can’t pretend that it’s been easy since you went away
Livin with somebody else

If you should change your mind
If you would turn around and look behind
If you could see me the way I used to be
At the risk of bringing back the sorrow and despair
I would do it all again
Holding on to memories and pretending not to care
Knowing that the show was soon to end
If only I could change your mind
If only you would change
If I had the chance I’d do it all again
I would do it all again

I remember windy shores on melancholy days
Drifting along with the tide
And the joy of simple things and ordinary ways
Taking it all in my stride

If you should change your mind
If I could let you see what lies behind
If you could see need me the way it used to be

Even for a moment of the happy times we shared
Living in my dreams since then
At the risk of losing only castles in the air
Come with me and we can try again
Oh, if I could change your mind

Can’t pretend it’s not been lonely since you went away
Oh, if only I could change your mind"

Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons, Alan Parsons Project "Eve" Album 1978

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