Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Imagery and St. Terese

Terese of Avila was born as Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the cathedral door. He of Germany, she of Spain. The Spanish inquisition occurred during her lifetime. That fact and the general tone of her country made her mystic faith a dangerous faith.

Terese was an influential, wise and no-nonsense woman. She has long been a personal favorite. So, Dear Reader you will kindly indulge me. Having returned to her writings as to a dear friend, I share some of her thoughts this day.

Terese saw things through imagery, in the same way our Lord taught. It has been stated that literary images affect us as they are the language of the soul.

The first image is that of The Journey, The Pilgrimage of the soul, remembering "we have here no continuing city." The purpose of all pilgrimage is the destination. In spiritual terms to come home to where we are intended to live, namely with God.

She speaks of the 'mansion' of the soul - the interior castle where His Majesty lives. 'His Majesty' is the title she most often gives to her Lord, which to me has such power, such reverence. (Contrast this image to today's "Jesus, my buddy" familiarity)

This interior castle of ours where the King lives is why we are called, yea verily, expected to learn, to adopt the manners and protocol of that court. This is godliness.

This is why Terese refers to disobedience as "plotting treason against the King"!

From the court we move into a closer relationship with His Majesty as we learn more of His ways and follow obediently. We move from the nearness of His presence to His friendship, then in time to betrothal and union with Him as his bride.

These concepts are somewhat startling to us as we plod along kicking the "world's toys and comforts from our pathway, or from our soul's living room floor". Yet there is nothing new here. We have heard these phrases our lifelong. Intimacy. The Bride of Christ. Certainly they present a shift of focus.

For Terese all was gained through prayer. To her it was not a duty, but a delight and indulgence. Prayer to her, was seen as water, the vital life in the physical life so in the spiritual. In the beginning of our pilgrimage we draw as with buckets from the well of water by meditation. Then it seen as receiving water direct from the spring or fountain via aqueduct or channel. Finally, it comes from the refreshing rains that saturate the soil of our entire being as we are one with His Majesty, our God and King.

Terese was a nun of the Carmelite Discalced. That means she walked barefoot. I love that image as well. Walking our pilgrimage barefoot seems most appropriate. What better way to feel the pain of toe stubbing when we walk carelessly? What better way to notice the condition of our heart's soil?

Joy to you this day, Fellow Pilgrim. Walk carefully.


  1. It can't remember the true name of the this theologoy but it's something like the 'live down' theology. Where you're going fully affects the way you live. If you focus on the end and not the journey, you will change throughout the journey. If you center, focus on Christ, you don't need to worry about memorizing scripture, or praying for an hour every morning, or making sure you finish all your devotions. We do none of that, anyways.