A journey of love

My journey to the heights of Carmel was, is, and will always be a journey of love.

It is driven by love. It is fueled by love.

My love for God triggers an insatiable thirst to experience his presence, to be with him, and to serve him by serving his people unconditionally.

For many years, I looked for him, everywhere and in everything. There was this emptiness in me that I wanted and longed to be filled. I knew then that only God could fill it.

And so I tasted every form of devotion, I tried different forms of spirituality. I wanted a tangible experience of his love, one that would excite my senses. But all that I got were just tastes of it. It was like God teasing me, not fully revealing himself to me.

When I started to experience the embrace, the kiss, the ecstatic pleasure of the physical consummation of human love (i.e. sex), I also desired his divine love to be the same – limited to that which the senses could experience – and my emptiness expanded. My longings grew deeper.

I knew then, and I know now, that God's love will never be like the love we get from embodied beings. His love is beyond our senses. How to accept and own this realization, however, has been a constant struggle.

A young man who wanted to become a priest once asked me if it's alright for him to enter into relationships and experience physical love before deciding if priesthood is really his call. I blatantly answered him, no. Not because premarital sex is against the teachings of the church but more because at the time I felt that I finally understood the adage, "innocence is bliss."

Yes, innocence is truly bliss for an innocent person will never seek as a rabid dog the pleasure of an experience he never had, content with that of his very own experiences. That which gave him pleasure.

It's like narcotics – once tasted, always wanted. Sadly, the satisfaction experienced will never be enough and will never be lasting.

And so, the ladder of love has become an abstract concept for me, devoid of the sensual pleasures that for long I have equated with love.

So, in concept, I know that true love is never sensual but a deep longing to just be with the beloved. The mere presence of the beloved triggers a sense of satisfaction and completeness that is beyond the senses.

That is true love. The love that I am seeking.

In this love, the union becomes complete and I become lost in his presence – where time no longer matters, where the world just fades into the background.

O, the bliss of such an experience.

At this point in my life, taking the ladder to ascend the heights of Carmel can be an arduous task. I have yet to undress myself of all these heavy clothes which I have accumulated and covered myself with as I searched for my perfect love. I have to let go of all these baggage, all the trinkets that somehow gave me fleeting happiness. I have to strip the bandages that's been limiting my movement even if it helped ease the pains.

Yes, I found him. I know where he is, I know how to reach him, but I have to climb naked, in nothingness. I have to let go of all these sensual concepts of love which has been continuously pulling me down.

I need to fly and for that I need to unfurl my wings of prayer and contemplation on the one hand, and altruistic service and reflective spiritual studies (with application) on the other.

Constant remembrance of God through contemplation excites the soul and this will bring me to the first step of the ladder. For now, the first step will be enough. I trust that he will take a thousand more steps for me.

This will be the fuel that will keep me in this journey – the faith that he is there to help me complete the journey.

This was first posted in my Xanga blog. This was written in is a reflection on Chapter 19 of Book Two of John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul.


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