Lumières

I have been reading the Carthusian’s two articles on prayer and find them a great help. Not only for what he has to say but also because they are written from the experience of someone who has left everything for the silence and the solitude of the cloister, who has lived in this austerity for years and come to terms with it. God is a mystery which has hovered around the verges of my consciousness all my life. From time to time in the past He was a presence – a vague sense of being there. Lately, however, when I might have hoped that this intimacy would have developed He has been absent. Not just absent in the sense of gone away but still there somewhere else, but non-existent, dead, never was or could be. So, while intellectually I understand what is going on, this does not make it any easier to bear. And this is where faith comes in, about which the Carthusian has much to say. All we have is what he calls la lumière de foi, and it is a very dark light. He goes on to say, 

Tout le reste demeure en deçà de ce que Dieu nous offre depuis le jour où Jésus est ressuscité. Toutes les autres lumières de l’intelligence, toutes les autres expériences spirituelles sur lesquelles nous aimerions parfois prendre appui, sont respectables, dignes d’estime, mais finalement elles ne sont sources de vie que dans la mesure où elles sont porteuses de foi.*.

I like the idea that the various spiritual experiences we have during life ‘deliver/transport/carry’ faith, or perhaps better, carry us on our spiritual journey until we are well out into the dark desert. And then leave us, as much as to say, “OK, you’re grown up now and this is as far as we can go.”All the porters have gone leaving me with all my baggage. There is something funny, something slightly ridiculous at the idea of me sitting here  all the other ‘lumières’ having been extinguished and all I have now is faith, at times a very feeble candle in an all-enveloping darkness.

[*http://www.chartreux.org/textes/fr/Priere_du_coeur.htm]

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