Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. "I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. -John 14:23-29
About This Week's Prompts for Personal Meditation You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. -John 14:28-29 What do you mean you're going away? You just rose from the grave! We just got used to you popping in and out of rooms, sneaking up beside us on the road, cooking breakfast on the beach. Why would you leave us … again? Where are you going? And why do you say we can't come with you? The taste and touch of resurrection, new sight, new life, new everything pervades the senses of the disciples. And now, further loss is at hand? Despite this new Resurrection awareness, the old familiar state of longing looms again and intensifies.
Now, longing in everything (Meditation One), the sense of deep chasm short of fulfillment (Meditation Two), and restiveness (Meditation Three) characterize the season of the soul at Ascensiontide. We can't go back! "Wounded by love ... one cannot obtain that which one desires above all things, but must ever abide where one does not wish to be." (Ruysbroeck) May Love increase your longing and desire for fulfillment this holy season. -Suzanne
Meditation One (Introit) Shall I Stand Before Thee Face To Face?
Day after day, O Lord of my life, shall I stand before thee face to face? With folded hands, O Lord of all worlds, shall I stand before thee face to face? under thy great sky in solitude and silence, with humble heart shall I stand before thee face to face? In this laborious world of thine, tumultuous with toil and struggle, among hurrying crowds shall I stand before thee face to face? And when my work shall be done in this world, O King of kings, alone and speechless shall I stand before thee face to face? -Rabindranath Tagore 1861-1941 Gitanjali
Ascension, detail, Andrea Di Vanni d'Andrea, 1355-60
Why, since You wounded This heart, don't You heal it? And why, since You stole it from me, Do You leave it so, And fail to carry off what You have stolen?
-John of the Cross 1542-1591 vs. 9, The Spiritual Canticle
Thou hast prompted him, that he should delight to praise thee, for thou hast made us for thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee.
Augustine 354-430 Confessions (trans. Albert C. Outler)
And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy One, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. -John 17:12
Ascension, detail, Andrea Di Vanni d'Andrea, 1355-60
Meditation Two (Insight) Longing For My True Life I live, but not in myself, And I have such hope That I die because I do not die. I no longer live within myself And I cannot live without God, For if I have neither Him nor myself What will life be? It will be a thousand deaths, Longing for my true life And dying because I do not die. -John of the Cross 1542-1591 (vs.1) Stanzas of the Soul that Suffers with Longing to See God
verse one, trans. Kavanaugh & Rodriguez
Meditation Three (Insight) Where Thou Art, There Is Heaven My Lord God, my All in all, Life of my life, and Spirit of my spirit, look in mercy upon me and so fill me with thy Holy Spirit that my heart shall have no room for love of aught but thee. I seek from thee no other gift but thyself, who art the giver of life and all its blessings. From thee I ask not for the world or its treasures, nor yet for heaven even make request, but thee alone do I desire and long for, and where thou art, there is heaven. The hunger and the thirst of this heart of mine can be satisfied only with thee who has given birth. O Creator mine! Thou hast created my heart for thyself alone, and not for another, therefore this my heart can find no rest or ease save in thee; in thee who has both created it and set in it this very longing for rest. Take away then from my heart all that is opposed to thee, and enter and abide and rule for ever. Amen. -Sadhu Sundar Singh 1889-c1929 quoted from the Oxford Book of Prayer George Appleton, editor
The Last Word When the inmost part of the heart and the source of life have been wounded by love, and one cannot obtain that which one desires above all things, but must ever abide where one does not wish to be: from these two things pain comes forth. -John Ruysbroeck 1293(4)-1381 The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage Chapter XXIII
“Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to the Father,” Jesus says to Mary Magdalene on the morning of the Resurrection.
Jesus has been with his friends for 40 days since the Resurrection. One begins to suspect that by this time, the disciples have grown accustomed to him appearing and disappearing and teaching what might have been left unsaid before the crucifixion. “I have said these things to you while I am still with you” (vs 25).
But what Jesus said to Mary Magdalene still resonates. Do not cling to me. You can not cling even to this resurrected Christ – teaching, cooking fish, breaking bread. For this Christ must also go away.
But now, Jesus gives them a clue to the future which, at this time, they can't possibly comprehend. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you (vs 26).” What can he mean? What is the Holy Spirit? The significance of this has to pass them by, because the meaning of it lies beyond imagination, beyond experience, beyond understanding. At least for now.
Jesus adds, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (16:7). They can not reach the fulfillment of their own maturity in discipleship unless Christ is gone. And so, they must not cling to what is known but open themselves to ambiguity and unknowing.
So often in the life of prayer, it is in retrospect that understanding takes place. On this journey of the soul you have lived in ambiguity before. And so, like the disciples, you might think that you can trust these words. And still, it seems to me that for the disciples, the loss of Jesus Resurrected, must have been as profound a loss as the one at Good Friday. Nevertheless, they went to the upper room together and devoted themselves to prayer(Acts 1:14). And waited. They teach us how to wait without clinging, within our own liminal times of unknowing.
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen