Infinite Love says: “Pull up a chair. Join me. Let’s dig in.”

George HerbertGeorge Herbert was a vicar in the Church of England as well as one of the most beloved poets of the 17th century. The monasteries on England were no more, but it is clear that neither all-out devotion to God nor mystical experience had disappeared. Herbert wrote many poems expressing a deep, affective devotion and an imagination awakened to God’s infinite love as found in Jesus.

The following poem is one of his best.  It assumes knowledge of the New Testament’s simple teaching, “God is love.”  With connotations of the communion rite, it describes our hesitancy to accept the grace of God. “Can I really join You, be with You, without becoming perfect first, without having earned the right?”

The poem had a momentous effect on the 20th century philosopher and social activist  Simone Weil, as we will see in the next installment.

Love III

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
                             Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
                             From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                             If I lacked any thing.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here:”
                             Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
                             I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
                             “Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
                             Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
                             “My dear, then I will serve”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat:”
                             So  I did sit and eat.

Quotation marks added to clarify who's speaking. 

Christ Appears to the Pilgrim

This selection from John Amos Komensky follows on the previous installment, where you can read about his interesting life. 

The Labyrinth of the World, Chapter XXXVIII

The Pilgrim receives Christ as his guest

(Our Illumination comes from on High.)

Behold, a clear light appeared on high, and raising my eyes towards it, I see the window above me full of brightness, and from out of that brightness there appeared One, in aspect, indeed, similar to a man, but in His splendor truly God. His countenance shone exceedingly, yet could human eyes gaze at it, for it didn’t cause terror; rather it had a loveliness such as I had never seen in the world. He then—kindness itself, friendliness itself—addressed me in these most sweet words:

(Wherein the Source of all Light and all Joy lies)

2. “Welcome, welcome, my son and dear brother.” And having said these words, He embraced me, and kissed me kindly. There came from him the most delightful scent, and I was seized by such unspeakable delight that tears flowed from my eyes, and I didn’t know how to respond to so unexpected a greeting. I could only sigh deeply and gaze at Him, feeling meek.

(to be continued)


–Piero della Francesca, The Resurrection, c. 1463-5, fresco, 225 x 200 cm (Museo Civico, Sansepolcro, Italy)

As with many of our selections this one is taken from The Protestant Mystics, selected and edited by Anne Fremantle, with an introduction by W. H. Auden. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1964. I have modernized some of the syntax and vocabulary for contemporary readers.

The Inspiration Begins

This is a place for inspiration–bold, naked, and unashamed.  Thanks for joining me!  In some lives at some times God has broken through. Your heart is pierced. Your mind is lifted to unforeseen heights.  For those weighed down with baggage about the word “God,” then we can say someone or some things from a higher dimension have entered our third.  Miraculous intervention, divine love, profundity made visible: All these have somehow been experienced on our planet by people of all races.

I hope to upload a new item daily, but my schedule and the length of some passages may intervene.  You are welcome to submit your own, from your own experience or others’.

All these accounts are true, or at least alleged to be true by their authors.  I do not write them.  I copy and paste them. This is a service.

Most of these accounts are joyful. But some are terrifying. For God is holy, absolute and infinite goodness, and we are not.  Since “inspire” originally meant “infused with Spirit,” and if the Spirit can motivate us to abandon the worst part of ourselves, then these readings are inspiring too.  One thing you will find here is what the word “awesome” originally meant.

The site will eventually include wisdom about the nature of these experiences; I have a master’s degree in spiritual theology from a major, accredited Canadian institution of higher learning. Don’t make me string cliches like that together again or I will find you.  But seriously, guidance can be useful. The wisest guidance of all is that we do not seek these experiences for themselves. That makes for a destiny of disappointment.  We seek the One who makes them, who gives us a glimpse of reality more real than the everydayness we must live in here.

The experiences are like telescopes in this way.  We use them to see beyond. We are not going to learn about the stars by admiring, collecting, and stroking the brass of the telescopes.  And to keep perspective on the moral importance of mystical experience we might apply the mysticism of the poet William Blake:

God appears, and God is light
To those poor souls who dwell in night
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

So: Many things on our journey are more important than ecstasy and mystical experience:  Seeing the image of God in your neighbor, loving her or him as yourself.  Just keeping faith when you have to slog through another day of what seems like winter with no Christmas or a desert sans oases.  But sometimes we need a cup of hot chocolate or a cool cup of water to keep on going.  Sometimes we need what medieval writers called consolations.  If we cannot have it ourselves at least we can be glad that others have, and we can be reminded that we live in a world of possibilities not impossibilities.  Ask your nearest quantum mechanic.

That’s enough spiritual theology.  For now, enjoy.

Mystical experiences are rare things, but we will begin with one of the most widely read, from a man who–many years later– had as large a spiritual impact on our modern age as any writer.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton