September 18, 2010

Dark and Dazzled

This semester I'm having my first sustained reading of some of St. Anselm, and I am really enjoying it.

This is from the Proslogion, chapter fourteen:

Lord my God, You who have formed and reformed me, tell my desiring soul what You are besides what it has seen so that it may see clearly that which it desires. It strives so that it may see more, and it sees nothing beyond what it has seen save darkness. Or rather it does not see darkness, which is not in You in any way; but it sees that it cannot see more because of its own darkness. Why is this, Lord, why is this? Is its eye darkened by its weakness, or is it dazzled by Your splendour? In truth it is both darkened in itself and dazzled by You.

(trans. M.J. Charlesworth, in this edition)

Is that not a fitting description of the spiritual life? We have an experience of God; an experience that is somehow subtle and obscure on the one hand, but demanding and complete on the other. We are left with a disposition of faith somehow certain and fragile at the same time. We are filled but still unsatisfied. We have spiritual rest, but are also restless as the Mystery continues to draw us into Himself. We have a powerful experience of God, strong enough to have no sensible choice but to surrender the course of our days and our lives to it, but somehow we we also feel as if we have not experienced Him at all. Why should this odd situation be? As Anselm says, the answer is twofold. First, it is our own darkness. The distraction and confusion of our thoughts, our failure to see things as they really are, and the disorderliness of our affections and bodies keep us from experiencing the God who is the fullness of Love and Order. Second, we are dazzled. Like the physical eye which is blinded when it look straight into the sun, so is our intellect and affection when they turn their gaze directly to God.

1 comment:

JanineD said...

thank you Father for this post.. it is especially meaningful to me ... God bless you :)