Advent IV: Love

Our faith tells us that the infinite love that is the architect of our hearts has made our hearts in such a way that nothing less than an infinite love will put to rest the restless longings of our hearts. –James Finley

So this is where the restless longing of my heart is taking me: to say yes to infinite love. And that divine restlessness is continuously stirred as I witness a daily display of my own inability to do it. I’m worn down from trying to get myself out of all that entangles me. But the Incarnation tells me that God comes into my dark entanglements and is born in me there. God with us awakens us to God in us.

A hymn comes to mind.

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
–George Matheson, pub.1882

I looked up the lyrics and learned what led Matheson to write this song. He writes,

“My hymn was composed in the manse of Innellan on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882. . . . Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression rather of having it dictated to me by some inward voice than of working it out myself.”

Love comes in our suffering–when our souls are weary, our torch barely flickers, and life’s glory dead. Love comes and does not let us go. Love holds us in the dark night and makes it bright and fair–more lovely than the dawn, said John of the Cross.

In the longest nights of the year, may something happen to you that allows your soul to rest, opens your heart to Infinite Love, and lifts up your head.

Oh, night that guided me, 
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover, 
Lover transformed in the Beloved!
–St. John of the Cross

 Some Advent Love Mischief:

  • What does your restless longing for Infinite Love look like?
  • When do you feel it most?
  • How might you welcome God in it?
Credits and References:
“Trevlig fjärde advent!” by Susanne Nilsson.Used with permission.
History of “O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go” by George Matheson (1842-1906)
“The Nativity” 1890-1910 by Franz Mayer & Co (detail) photo by Plum leaves. Used with permission.
Quote from the poem “The Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross, tr E. Allison Peers.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2017.

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Advent, Mystical, Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Advent IV: Love

  1. Jude Hatfield says:

    Dear Esther

    Your words have been a blessing to me again this year, and I just want to say how much I appreciate your thoughtful, honest, deep, soulful reflections. I often copy portions or whole posts into my journal, to reflect on more deeply throughout the week. Reading your blog has been food for my journey and has helped shape me. I am a pastor who finds herself very soul- hungry at times, and I regularly thank God for the ways your words pastor my weary soul. That is a priceless gift to me Esther, and I am so grateful for the generous way you share who God is for you, and so accompany me, a stranger from across the world, as we both bump and muddle our way along and find Love that will not let us go.

    Your gentleness and compassion remind me to be similarly kind to myself, and your questions prompt me to ask Jesus how He sees me and the situations I face.

    May you too rest in the Ocean of God’s love and find yourself, and those you love, held by Grace.

    With much love,

    Jude Hatfield Canberra, Australia


  2. Esther Hizsa says:

    Jude, thank you for your kind and encouraging words–a timely gift for me this Christmas. This is just what I’d hoped that my writing would do. Your congregation is blessed to have you as their pastor. You listen to your soul and welcome Love and that enables others to do the same. Thank you for your blessing and may you too rest in Love and be held by Grace.


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