SPANISH mystic Miguel de Molinos (1628–1696) was a martyr, but not in a way we would traditionally assume; his death was a life of imprisonment with torture, and he did indeed die of his injuries. He is someone who might know something of pain and of darkness, and of God there and there abouts:
“What you should do in the darkness, then, is to believe that you are before the Lord and in His presence. But you should do so with a sweet and quiet attention — not bringing desire to know anything; nor to search after delicacies, tenderness, or sensible devotions; nor to do any thing except what is the good will and pleasure of God. Because otherwise you will only make circles all your lifetime, and you will not advance one step toward perfection.” (Italics mine.)
Do we even want perfection? If we knew it, what it could give us, an imperviousness to depression, for one instance, we would drink deeply of the vine of perfection — which is constant spiritual progress. And this is to what the martyred mystic calls us.
Imagining we are before the living Lord, endured in his eternal Presence, captured in awe beyond comprehension, we have want for nothing. Every compensation for the darkness that pervades us is made manifest when we feel we’re actually deeply with God. The hard part is extracting ourselves from the world enough that that would occur. The difficulty we have is extricating ourselves from the dilemmas we find ourselves inextricably in.
Our darknesses are not always so easy to get out of. But the martyr, de Molinos, commends us not to deny our darkness, but to embrace it.
Come into me now my Lord,
Show me you’re really there,
Help me hard now to hoard,
Your holy rarefied air.
What can a seventeenth century martyr teach us about the mystical truth of God’s power, even in, especially in, the darkness? Everything. And why should we believe? The truth is we must believe. We cannot afford to negate the role of the Presence of God who is with us by his Spirit. Sometimes, especially when things are toughest, we must believe. We must choose to believe.
Let me close by attending to what de Molinos mentioned as “a sweet and quiet attention.” This is so very important. God must become our everything so everything we are is of God.
This is the radicalisation of love such that no threat of darkness could ever prevail. Darkness, in and of itself, is actually the very reason we’re to be blessed of God’s Presence. The more darkness surrounding us, the more light comes in to reveal it.
The more darkness is against us, the more God is for us.
The darker the experience in life, the tougher the spiritual battle, the more God has promised and delivers in being eternally with us.
This is the truth: darkness, and not copious light, will bring you to the fullness of maturity in God. Darkness cannot be complained about when God is there with us. There is so much more to think about, say and do. This challenge is not to ‘make circles’ all our lives.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.