75. St Teresa of Avila. Part 2
St Teresa compares the soul of the seeker (or traveler) to a garden. God has already selected the person. He has uprooted the weeds and planted nice plants in that soil. Now, if properly watered, the plants will produce fragrant flowers. There are 4 ways the garden can be watered:
1. By taking the water from a well, and carrying it to the garden, a labor intensive method
2. By water-wheel and buckets, when the water is drawn by a windlass; a less laborious way
3. By a stream or a brook. This is very efficient and less laborious than the first two
4. By heavy rain, when God waters it Himself, when the water is needed. No effort of the gardener is needed
First Way.The Saint describes the first way in great detail, because almost every one passes through this stage. It is the most difficult, and lasts for a long time. Many a times, one loses all hope. One crosses this period only by God’s help, and not by his/her efforts. Patience and perseverance are a must. It is important to remember that God is fair and just, one’s efforts are always rewarded
I could spend several pages on this stage. Briefly, the person goes to a solitary place and thinks of some image. She used to picture Christ tied to the column, but, dozens of other images can be chosen. She would reflect upon the pains He bore. Why did He choose to bear them? With what love and fortitude He bore them?............She would weep (that is what she calls watering the garden )
If one cannot weep, then there is no water in the well. Don’t be disheartened. God meant it to be like that. Aridity is good in its own right. At least try to develop tenderness and feeling of devotion at the thought of Christ. Think, that He never deserved to be there. He did it for us
She states “ consider it the greatest of favors to work in the garden of so great an Emperor”
At the same time self knowledge should not be neglected.
“Once you desire to be alone and commune with God, and abandon the pastimes of this world, the chief part of your job is done.”
Focus your thoughts, don’t allow them to wander. This is very very difficult
Once one becomes proficient, the memory and understanding are partially suspended during the deep parts of meditation.
Second Way. Here the gardener draws more water with less labor. It is also called Prayer of Quiet. The Saint tries to explain it, as best as she can, but words cannot describe the feelings of such states which can only be experienced. She uses the words, such as contentment, consolation, joy, and favors (by God) to describe the feelings of the recipient. Let me pinpoint as much as I can:
Will is partially lost (or sometimes she uses the term “kept occupied or captive” by the God)
Understanding is present, and helps the will enjoy the pleasures
Memory is present, and helps the will enjoy the pleasures
Tears of joy flow
Very little labor is required, so prayer even if continues for a long time, is not wearisome
Soul does not know what to do. Does not want to know or ask. She is content and happy.
Sometimes the pleasures and consolations are taken away. This is to teach one humility
As the soul has never gone beyond this state, it thinks there is no more to wish, and wants to stay there forever. Many, many reach this state, few pass beyond it. This prayer is a spark of true love which God has enkindled. It is a great gift. God has chosen him/her.
Her words “the flowers have now reached a point at which they are almost ready to bloom”
She did not understand Latin, but in this state she could understand the meaning of the words she was reciting as if they were in Spanish language.
The Saint states that when one starts the prayer (of first degree or way), it is most important, to detach oneself from all kinds of pleasures. This is the same teaching which this mote has found in mystic practices of all religions; Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others. Conquer one self
To be continued