Our Relationship With Created Things

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According to the interpretation of St. John of the Cross by Sr. Ruth Burrows.

I loved this passage and I dedicate it especially to Rob.

from Ascent to Love
Ruth Burrows

Turning now to the Ascent we understand that John is not demanding that we cast a pall over all created things and live in some sort of void but that we impose a night on the ego. 'It is not the things of this world that ensnare and injure the soul, for they do not enter within it, but the desire for them which abides within it, that is the ego which always seeks itself and therefore abuses and destroys." The ego curls inwards and, like a carnivorous flower, draws everything else within it, destroying both them and itself. This ego-centred movement is a perversion, it is disobedience in the fullest sense. It is sin. In Paul's terms it is the flesh that lusteth against the spirit. Called beyond ourself to the enfolding transforming love of the infinite, and never happy save in obedience to this call, we nevertheless shrink from commitment to it. Innately obstinate in us (and how strong!) is that which expects, demands, looks for fulfilment within this world, even though we know experientially and intellectually that it cannot be.

I love the metaphor of the carnivorous plant and particularly the lovely use of the word "curl" rather than "turn." Curling suggests a withering, a drying up, a post-mortem effect. That is the place of the ego--withering and death. It is the place of the spirit where we have enfolding and unfolding and the transformation of the seen into the plant.

In case you can't tell, I'm really enjoying sister Ruth's book. It seems so practical, down-to-earth, and ordinary. It takes away the sting of much of the phrasing of St. John of the Cross and reveals (or so I think) the underlying truth of what he teaches about the Spritiual life.

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"Curling" also, to me, suggests necessity, while "turning" would imply a decision to turn.

I prefer the little Therese, who admits she got pissed when doing the laundry and kept getting splashed, but held it and offered it to the Lord, and was nice to the klutz who splashed her.
For those of us in the real world, Ms.Burrows sounds too much like Polyanna or Oprah...

Dear Tioedong,

Given your antipathy toward Sr. Ruth and toward St. John of the Cross, on whose work the present writing is merely a gloss, I'd say it's a good bet that you are not called to be a Carmelite.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 10, 2005 8:40 AM.

The End for Which We Are Made was the previous entry in this blog.

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