What a better way to dedicate yourself a silent and prayerful time then entering a monastery.
I always wanted to do that, and being faraway from my adorable mountain and my sweet little alpine
hut I felt pull to join for a week the silence of a Carmelite monastery in Brugge
The last few weeks I encountered a struggle of the soul within myself. Needless to say that outside circumstance and people caused also an unbearable pain that literally I felt my heart turned apart.
I was undecided about joining for a week a retreat in Plum village the Buddhist Sangha of the Vietnamese monk Thich Naht Hanh or seclude myself in a solitary journey of prayer and contemplation surrounded by the amazing delicate and holy energy of the Carmeliten friars. As one of the aching pull in my heart had to do with my connection with Jesus and many of the saints that dedicated their life to prayer I felt I needed not to choose, but simply follow the inspiring example of two of the major figure of Carmelite devotion: the ecstatic and powerful St. Teresa of Avila and one of my most beloved mystic poet and austere friar St John of the Cross. ( Juan de la Cruz)
In each of us hides a monk, a nun , a sadhu an hermit. At least it is true for me. I am aware since long time of the simple need for solitude prayer and meditation. In reality since my early teenager time I sought in the silence of the mountain the inner peace and tranquility that comes in nature that helps to bring along a peace of mind.
In the years with Miracle of Love
that need was manipulated, spoiled and abused for the purpose of the Mol sick group and their deluded leaders - Kalindi - The Lady- Scotti and so on. However damaging have been the effects of participation in the Miracle of love cult, nobody can take away your true simple spiritual longing to be in the presence of God, in the simple mindful act of breathing, in the devotion of a sufi mystic for his beloved, in the gratitude of each moment as it comes whether be happiness of sadness.
What a grace is when you can touch upon this divine longing and feed it with your prayers, the practice of silent meditation and a honest looking at your "mind formation" ( quoting Thich Naht Hanh) of maya or illusion whether is anger, pain, sorrow or even happiness.
And that is how I set up my days in the monastery with my own schedule from morning to night, including "the candle meditation" in the middle of the night. I desired so much to understand the deep call of my heart in the last year as I was helping a person in need.
Really what turned me on to enter for few days a carmelite monastery was reading some mystic poems from Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross translated by Daniel Ladinsky in his book "Love poems from God"
. A book that has been on my bed site since months already.From Wikipedia about the Carmelite
"Carmelite tradition traces the origin of the order to a community of hermits on Mount Carmel that succeeded the schools of the prophets in ancient Israel, although there are no certain records of hermits on this mountain before the 1190s. By this date a group of men had gathered at the well of Elijah on Mount Carmel. These men, who had gone to Palestine from Europe either as pilgrims or as crusaders, chose Mount Carmel in part because it was the traditional home of Elijah. It was natural that this community of Eastern hermits in the Holy Land should gain constant accessions from pilgrims, and between 1206 and 1214 they received a rule from the patriarch and Papal legate Albert of Jerusalem."
The main crux of this order is contemplative prayers and we can find some of the best expression
in the literaly works of St Teresa and St John of the Cross.
St Teresa of Avila
Teresa of Avila ( 1515- 1582) was an amazing woman and a beautiful one too, a reformist of the order and an absolute mystic in the true sense of the word. The stories of her visions, raptures, flight of the soul are somehow stunning. She describes them often as feeling totally pierced in her heart by the fire of God's love that leaves her in such an unbearable sweet pain that makes her long just for more. She was graced by many of these rapture, to the point they become her constant companion in her life. The famous work of sculpture of Bernini depicts her in one of her most famous ecstatic moment. The ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila
G.Lorenzo Bernini ( 1647-1652) in Santa Maria della Vittoria Rome
At the same time Teresa suffered terribly in her body, of diseases that at the time nobody could figure it out why she had all those painful symptoms. Give it to the doctors of 21 century and to the psychologist she will be categorized under "hysterical personality". However I am glad Freud didn't exist back then. They had enough to deal with the Inquisition. Many books have been written about this incredible mighty woman, who became an icon for the feminist movement of our time. I was lucky to find some good books about her which the friars of Brugge lend me, and studied her life. Moreover I love her poems.
Anyway powerful and gifted as she was she was a woman who fought to bring back the Carmeliten order to its original austerity and she moved about her mission in total surrender to God, her Beloved, her only true Spouse, with wit, a very spirited sense of humor and skilled art in communication, let alone powerful and eminent friends that helped her along.
From St. Teresa of Avila
Desire in her soul
to hold Him as an infant,
what woman would not find that desire
in her soul?
Yes I wanted to hold Him when He was so in need,
that He might cling to me with
all his strength for protection.
I never thought of the sun as being maternal
but is there anything that does not
One day I was carrying my wash, one day i was carrying bread,
one day I was carrying a small goat,
and al of them became
on the ground the first time this happened,
the first time the universe suckled
St. John of the Cross
Painting on the inside walls of the Carmeliten in Brugge
When Teresa was in her fifties she met Juan de la Cruz - John of the Cross ( 1542-1591) and it was through his help that the friars order was reformed. The foundation of the first reformed Carmelite priory reminds us of the great hope and small resources that the first hermitage founded by St. Francis of Assisi in the ruined chapel of the Portiuncola.
He was very different from Teresa of Avila. His whole bent was towards interiors prayers and contemplation and although he could be firm and clear-sighed where question of discipline and or principle were involved, he was so averse to all practical affairs that he even withdraw from his position of prior.
He just wanted to pray and be with God. He was often seen on his knees holding to the holy cross, that is why in many depiction of him you see him like that.
St John of the Cross experience in jail was crucial for his work. He was segregated for 9 month in a tiny dungeon in a cell in the Carmelite priory not reformed in Toledo. He was given hardly any food, that lead him to suffer from dysentery, never a change of clothes in the 9 months of imprisonment, consequently being literally eaten by lice. He slept on a board laid on teh floor with two rugs to cover him: he suffered tremendously in the cold winter of Toledo and later in teh extreme heat of summer. To add more injuries he regularly taken out to the refectory and beaten to bleed by the friars of the order, accusing him of having betrayed and dishonored the Order and that he wanted to reform the Calced in the Discalced only for his own sake and gratification.
He bared all of the scorching and insults in silence. The worst part of his suffering though didn't come through the physical ones but from the doubts and scruples that afflicted his mind. Out of this suffering comes most of his prose and poem: The ascent of mount Carmel and The Dark night of the soul.
He was to my eyes and heart a true man of God that help the Carmeliten of those days to think more of God then what they were wearing and eating. In fact the Carmeliten Order were in need to be reformed by someone "pure of heart."
I chose one of its poem translated by Linda Nicholson.
The living flame of love
(Songs of the soul in intimate union with God
O living flame of love,
How tenderly you wound
And sear my soul's most inward centre!
No longer so elusive,
Now, if you will, conclude
And rend the veil from this most sweet encounter.
O cautery that heals!
O consumating wound!
o soothing hand ! O touch so fine and light
That savours of eternity
And satisfy all dues!
Slaying, you have converted death to life.
O lamps of burning
In whose translucent glow
The mind's profoundest caverns shine with splendor
Before in blindness and obscure,
With unearthly beauty now
Regale their love with heat and light together.
With what love and sweetness
You waken in my breast
Where in secrecy and solitude you move:
Suffused with joy and goodness
In the fragrance of your breath,
How delicately you kindle me with love!
I feel profoundly touched by his words. And if you can read Spanish the poem will deliver even more its deep meaning.
At last the soul that rests firmly in God found within, where His burning Light resides, where He always waits for us to fall in His gentle loving embrace.
Fire, the fire of love always present, fire as a purification process, fire of the pain one has to go through in order to resurrect in the healing water of His love. Fire, the burning fire of God's Love, that helps you to move mountain even when you can't see them because the horizon is wrapped in mist. Fire as a transformational process that wakes the mind to have a leap of consciousness and recognize itself in its pure essence of Love and Light in His Holy Presence.
A fire that silently has been burning in my heart since the last 10 months that left me wondering and in awe as I was conducting my day to day life.
Labels: Friends, meditation, Miracle of Love, poetry, prayer