This weekend I have been thinking a lot about the love of God. It is partly because I am working on a new book entitled Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How we Pray. The focus of the book is a quote I found from 16th century mystic Madame Guyon Prayer is an exercise in love”. My thoughts started to gel over the season of Advent last year as I meditated on what it meant to trust God. What I felt God prompted me to focus on instead was “learn to love me more.” trust is a product of love I realized. It is not something that occurs spontaneously, nor does it come with focusing on our need to trust. Trust comes by learning to love the God who is trustworthy in all circumstances.
Over the weekend someone left a comment on one of my posts with a quote from St. Teresa of Avila, “Remember: if you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens you to love.” This too resonated in my soul
Prayer is not about getting down on our knees to talk to God. Nor is it about praying for the needs of the world. It is about falling in love and staying in love with God as we converse with and interact with the One who fills every fibre of our being (see prayer by Father Arrupe).
What awakens us to the love of God which formed us, transforms us, sustains us and empowers us? What awakens us to the love of God so that we crave that intimate place of communion with the lover of our souls. Not just when we sit down in a place of retreat where we intercede for others but moment by moment of every day in the ordinary routines and activities of life?
This is the question that I think is at the heart of the gospels. Jesus whole life is about learning to love the God who is love. That is why James calls “love of God and love of neighbour” the royal law. That is why Jesus spent so much time drawing aside to quiet places to pray. That is why the disciples longed to learn how to pray as Jesus prayed, not in a distant hands off relationship but in an intimate loving interaction that permeated his life and ministry. Learning to love someone means spending time in their presence, becoming familiar with their voice, gazing into their face. It means loving to stand in awe of what they have made, touching, tasting and relishing their love expressed through such creativity.
It also means learning to love what they love. To enter into a loving relationship with God means to desire what God loves – justice and mercy and compassion. It means that our hearts ache with the things that tear God’s heart apart – sin and disease and injustice. Form the fullness of our experience of God’s love we are able to love others. The outpouring of God’s love into the lives of others is I believe one of the most profound expressions of prayer that there can be.
So what awakens you to the love of God? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Christine! I am so excited to learn that you’re writing this book. I think that there is such a desperate need in the world today for the “how” of the “why.” We have, in the West especially, lost the tradition of practice. I think in conjunction with that, there is so little we actually say about the love of God (even less that we experience). I’m grateful that you’re putting these together.
Much love in the journey.
Thanks Brittian – I really appreciate the encouragement
St. Teresa of Avila is the patron saint of the church I attend. I hadn’t seen this quote before. This is the line that resonated with me: “the important thing is not to think much but to love much”
I’m a thinker….and a lover….
I do believe I have to reverse the order 🙂
Thank you so much. This post was one I needed to read today.
What awakens me to the love of God? Nature, Poetry, Music, Theatre, Art, Conversation, Rocking my grandbaby
Your welcome. I love St Teresa of Avila.
I love where your are headed, Christine. The world is in need of what you are writing.
We HAVE lost the tradition of practice. Paraphrasing Barbara Brown Taylor (from An Altar in the World), why do we waste so much energy arguing about the menu when we should be sitting down to share a meal together?
Jim, – great quote. I love An Altar in the World. It is one of the books that has been an inspiration for me
Oh Christine this is so timely for me. Have been too caught up in the busyness of admin and getting things “right” especially over Easter. A couple of things have pulled me up and now I realise that I just need so much to allow myself to “do” less sometimes and to love more -which will flow from a deeper love and trust in God.
Blessings on your journey with this important work.
Joan, so glad that this helped – it is so easy for us to get busier than we should be – often thinking we are doing God’s work all the time