I felt my heart “strangely warmed,” like what happened to John Wesley at Aldersgate in 1738 when he knew for certain that he was saved, The same thing happened to the two travellers on the road to Emmaus. While they didn’t recognize the risen Christ walking with them, their hearts knew. They said later, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
I have experienced this before. A sudden warm spaciousness fills my chest whenever I sense that something is true and very important to God.
And the important truth that set my heart ablaze were these words from The Cloud of Unknowing, written by an anonymous Christian mystic in the fourteenth century.
It is God, and he alone, who can fully satisfy the hunger and longing of our spirit which transformed by God’s redeeming grace is enabled to embrace him by love.
I had often imagined God embracing me. But me, embrace God?
The mystic continued,
No one can fully comprehend the uncreated God with his knowledge, but each one, in a different way, can grasp him fully through love.
I pictured our six-year-old grandson, Hadrian. He was draped over Fred one Sunday in church with his soft cheek pressed against my husband’s leathery one. One hand was cupped under his opa’s chin and the other, fingers splayed, was buried in Fred’s wiry hair and massaging his scalp. A woman on the worship team looked up from her djembe drum, and seeing such a display of affection, was brought to tears.
Truly this is the unending miracle of love: that one loving person, through his love, can embrace God, whose being fills and transcends the entire creation.
I closed my eyes and opened my heart to the image and words of the mystic. I imagined myself embracing God: my Father, my Mother. For a sacred, eternal moment, I rested my cheek on my Abba’s leathery face and encircled his neck with my arm. My spirit was satisfied as I caressed God’s temple and soaked up his sighs with my fingers.
Whenever I return to the thought of embracing God or the image of Hadrian and Fred or this painting by Jaison Cianelli, my heart is strangely warmed again. Truly this is an unending miracle.
Thoughts for your Lenten pilgrimage:
- Imagine being embraced by a child who adores you.
- Imagine God enjoying your embrace.