Friday, December 14, 2018

La Fiesta de San Juan ... de ★Noche★πŸ”₯

Yesterday was light and today is ... DARK!?

San Juan de la Cruz. Saint John of the Cross. Today is his feast day. He is the great sixteenth century Carmelite reformer and mystic who is famous for his teaching about "the dark night of the soul." He is also one of the great poets of the Golden Age of Spanish literature.

San Juan's explanation of the periods of experiential "darkness" that occur at various times during the growth of our relationship with God is intended to encourage us. We need not "be afraid" of the darkness. Or, even if we do feel afraid, we can recognize that this kind of disorientation should not cause us to give up loving God and seeking to draw closer to him.

"In general the soul makes greater progress when it least thinks so; indeed, most frequently when it imagines that it is losing. Having never before experienced the present novelty which dazzles it, and disturbs its former habits, it considers itself as losing, rather than as gaining ground, when it sees itself lost in a place it once knew, and in which it delighted, traveling by a road it knows not, and in which it has no pleasure... But inasmuch as God Himself is the guide of the soul in its blindness, the soul may well exult and say, 'In darkness and in safety,' now that it has come to a knowledge of its state" (Saint John of the Cross).

These precise observations of spiritual theology probably apply in a broader sense to much of the strangeness of ordinary human life. We must continue to trust in the wisdom and goodness of God throughout all the seemingly incomprehensible twists and turns and jolts and failures we experience, all that tempts us to question whether or not God really cares about us.

Of course he cares about us. But he has made us for himself; he has made our hearts for a fulfillment inexpressibly greater than we can understand or achieve by our own power. We won't reach the God who is infinite, transcendent Mystery, the God who is Infinite Love, until we have really endured something like these dark nights.

I spent some time today with Spanish verse of this great saint and poet. Some of the words are antiquated, but in general they are very accessible and certainly more concise, more rhythmic, more beautiful in their original form. I don't speak Spanish and I don't understand much of the many variations of spoken Spanish found throughout the Hispanic world. I do aspire to read, and with the many new and continually improving linguistic tools available to us, I hope to learn to read a bit better. Language is a wonderful thing in itself.

Here are the first six verses of the Song of the Soul that Knows God by Faith by San Juan de la Cruz:

Cantar de la Alma
que se huelga de conoscer a Dios por fe

Que bien se yo la fonte, que mana, y corre
aunque es de noche.

Aquella eterna fonte esta ascondida
que bien se yo do tiene su manida
aunque es de noche.

Su origen no lo se, pues no le tiene;
mas se que todo origen della viene,
aunque es de noche.

Se que no puede ser cosa tan bella
y que cielos y tierra beuen della
aunque es de noche.

Bien se que suelo en ella no se halla
y que ninguno puede vadealla
aunque es de noche.

Su claridad nunca es escurecida
y se que toda luz de ella es uenida
aunque es de noche.