Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Measure of our Enlightenment

Cleaning up emails in my inbox, I found some old correspondence worth sharing.

In 2003, my friend Martha gave me a link to a very interesting link to the an article titled "Dark Night of Mother Teresa." This was written in advance of Mother Teresa's beatification on Oct. 19, 2003 in Rome.

The article discusses some hidden aspects of the life of Mother Teresa. What was reveled by Mother Teresa's spiritual director, only after her death, was that she had been experiencing spiritual darkness for all the time she was in India. Prior to her mission she was content as a contemplative nun, and she had been receiving visitations by Jesus in visions and other mystical experiences. But all this ended once she committed herself to a mission in Calcutta, as Jesus had asked of her in a vision. She entered, what St. John of the Cross had called, the dark night of the spirit. In this dark night, the soul is bereft of all spiritual consolation, but only experiences a profound sense of emptiness, dryness, even abandonment by God.

I found it compelling that this woman, in whom so many could see the bright light of Christ, experienced only darkness within her own soul, an acute awareness of separation from God. This stark revelation motivated me to write the following email response to Martha.


Martha,

Thanks for the article.

One of my new friends here in Atlanta had worked with Mother Teresa for several years. Just last night Isaac was telling my about how Mother Teresa would give people a slight touch and fill the person with love, peace and joy. Isaac had also been a Brother at Taize for ten years. He told me that Br. Roger has a similar touch. Now Isaac is a refugee from his home country of Bangladesh where he was a human rights activist and publisher. We meet weekly for conversation and prayer, wondering how the Spirit may be leading us.

About Mother Teresa's dark night, I am reminded of the Bhakti Sutra that says that the ultimate degree of Bhakti, a Sanskrit word for the yoga of devotional love, is the cherishing of supreme separation. This comes after the more blissful stages of divine courtship leading to union. After union it is the love that flows out from us (Beloved-and-I) that matters.

By analogy, we can only see the light that comes toward us. The light that flows out from us we cannot see, nor do we need to. Only sometimes, we may see small reflections of that light as it reflects back to us though the eyes of those that Love is loving through us.

The measure of one's enlightenment is not the light that one sees, but the light that others see shining from the One. When Mother Teresa touches us, we are filled with love, joy and peace. This is the light that shines out of darkness, emptiness, abandon.

We should not be concerned when we no longer feel the sweet consolations of the Spirit. If we are doing the will of God, that is enough.

Nice to hear from you again. I hope to visit Durham sometime soon. Let's stay in touch.

In Christ,
James

10/20/2003

2 comments:

Rodrigo said...

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James Hilden-Minton said...

Thank you, Rodrigo.

I've never tried to read Portugues before, but I can make some sense of what you wrote having studied Spanish. Here's what I think you said.

Hi, I found your blog through Google. It's very interesting. I liked your post. When you visit my blog about personalized shirts, you'll see how to create a personalized shirt very easy. ...

So was I even close?

Thanks again and good luck with your business.

James