I Am For My Beloved

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I’m reading a poetry anthology, The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World compiled by Ivan Granger.* It’s dovetailing nicely with the Lenten season, although I can’t really take credit for that.

One of the poems was particularly meaningful for me – On Those Words “I am for My Beloved.” It was written by Teresa of Avila after a deeply mystical encounter in which she experienced an angel piercing her heart with divine love.

Already I gave my self completely,

and have changed in such a way

That my Beloved is for me

and I am for my Beloved.

 

When the gentle hunter shot me

and left me in all my weakness,

in the arms of love

my soul fell

and being charged with new life

I have changed in such a way

That My Beloved is for me

And I am for my Beloved.

 

He pierced me with an arrow

laced with the herbs of love

and my soul became one

with her Creator;

I no longer want another love,

since I have given myself to my God,

That My Beloved is for me

and I am for my Beloved.

(English version by Megan Don)

 

As I meditated on Teresa’s words, they cradled me, assured me, comforted me.

…in all my weakness, in the arms of love…

…My Beloved is for me…

I might have stopped there, but her words continued, this time with challenge.

…charged with new life

…I have been changed…

…I have given myself to God…

…I am for my Beloved…

I wrestled with the juxtaposition between comfort and challenge. Then my eyes were drawn to Granger’s commentary, which led me deeper still:

When the mind settles and the soul waits in courageously vulnerable readiness, the most amazing thing happens: the heart blooms. The heart opens and expands. Effortlessly, the heart reaches out, with a wider span than we ever imagined possible, embracing all of creation. We become flooded with something beyond feeling or emotion. There is a sense of finally recognizing one’s very nature within the heart, that this is the seat of our being.

When focused inward, we are enraptured, filled with bliss. When focused outward, we are an embodiment of love. We begin to feel so much more, all the world’s suffering and searching and occasional surges of life, and it is all beautiful and somehow a part of us.

As Lent unfolds I realize that my challenge is that of waiting in “courageously vulnerable readiness.” I deeply desire to be an embodiment of love; but do I really understand what it means to have my heart truly “pierced” by God? Can I honestly affirm with Teresa that “I gave myself completely”?

My prayer is that I do and that I can. That would be my prayer for you as well. That we would be able to claim both of Teresa’s truths: I am for my Beloved and My Beloved is for me.

 

*The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World, a Poetry Chaikhana anthology, edited with commentary by Ivan M. Granger, 2014 (Kindle Edition).

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Kimberly Reisman is an author, pastor, teacher and theologian serving as Executive Director of World Methodist Evangelism of the World Methodist Council. Prior to beginning at WME, Kim served in local churches, as Executive Director of Next Step Evangelism and General Editor for WesleyanAccent.com. She is a frequent speaker, focusing on evangelism, spiritual formation, women’s ministries, leadership development and the intersection between faith and culture. Kim is an elder in the United Methodist Church and has written numerous books, most recently, The Christ-Centered Woman: Finding Balance in a World of Extremes (2013, Abingdon Press). Kim is also an Adjunct Professor at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, and The School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Washington.

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