St John of the Cross seemed to be too harsh for me. I promised to explore some of his work this year (2012) – he is famous for the dark night of the soul. I had heard in a sermon about the calumny and slander, imprisonment and poverty he suffered.
I finally got round to his ideas. St Theresa of Avila’s Interior Castle had a big influence on my teenage imagination and writings, but St John, a friend and influence on St Theresa, seemed too hard and his way too harsh. But now I’ve read some chapters in RHJ Steuart’s The Mystical Doctrine of St John of the Cross I see that to enable union with God there is reasoning behind complete detachment – physical, intellectual, affective as well as ignoring the images of the imagination. The reason is that God is beyond everything. Only the isn’tness of things, including the is-not-ness of ourselves can facilitate an encounter with the Divine.
None of the characters I create can communicate with me. The gap between me and God is at the same time smaller and infinitely greater than between me and my creations. Smaller because God has given me the ability to seek and speak to him.
By coincidence I also watched a film about Edith Stein who wrote The Science of the Cross. She converted to Catholicism from Judaism. She was a renowned philosopher of phenomenology. She was sent to a concentration camp by the Nazis. The film is not great but it is very good and has a lot of interesting ideas. It also conveys the seven mansions of St Theresa of Avila in brief and to
some degree through images. Not that I’m an expert on The Interior Castle but I think I shall return to it in 2013.