Wholly Burned Away

Upheld, and yet without support,
darkness around, no light of day
while I am wholly burned away.

My soul is free and set apart
from every created thing,
lifted above itself to sing
of richer life delight the heart.
God is the rock to which I cling.
Now I can tell it as I ought:
the source of all my greatest bliss –
to feel, to know that my soul is
upheld, and yet without support.

I walk along a shadowed way
of suffering in this life of night,
and yet although I see no light
my sorrows not without allay:
I know the heavenly life burns bright.
The blinder love is I can say,
the greater is the life that flows,
holding the soul in peace that grows,
darkness around, no light of day.

Since Love began to work in me
his touch transforms me, this I know.
I see my soul translucent grow,
for at his pleasure, equally
both good and bad are changed and glow.
Filled with delight to be Loves prey
I feel his flame consume, and see
nothing is left, for rapidly
the whole of me is burned away.

Oh happy nothingness

Preserve the spirit of poverty and disregard for all things, with the desire to be content with God alone. And keep in mind you will neither have nor feel any more needs than those to which you desire to submit your heart. For she who is poor in spirit is happier and more constant in the midst of want, because she has placed  her all in nothingness, and in all things she thus finds freedom of heart. O happy nothingness, and happy hiding place of the heart ! For the heart has such power that it subjects all things to itself ; this it does by desiring to be subject to nothing and losing all care so as to burn the more in love.


When the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.1

St John of the Cross has offered some, not inconsiderable, commentary on this matter. A glance is offered here:

The limitations of human nature are such that when the communication and knowledge of the Beloved, which gives more life to the soul and for which she longs ardently, is about to be imparted, she cannot receive it save almost at the cost of her life.2

The reason for this is that such favours cannot be received wholly in the body, for the spirit is elevated to commune with the divine Spirit Who comes to the soul. Thus the soul must in some fashion abandon the body.3

The Beloved revealed to her some rays of His grandeur and divinity and carried her out of herself in rapture and ecstasy: “for they cause me to take flight and go out of myself to supreme contemplation, which is beyond what the sensory part can endure.”4

She would not want to receive the Spirit in the body, for there she cannot receive Him fully, but only in a small degree and with considerable suffering. But she would want to receive Him in the flight of the spirit, outside the body, where she can freely rejoice with Him.5

For a better understanding of the nature of this flight, it should be noted that, as we said, in this visit of the divine Spirit, the spirit of the soul is carried away to communicate with Him, and it abandons the body and ceases to have its feelings and actions in it, for they are in God.6

Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty.7

1. John 16:13
2. St John of the Cross. Spiritual Canticle.(SC) 13:3
3. SC 13:4
4. SC 13:2
5. SC 13:5
6. SC 13:6
7. John 15:5


I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy,
and that joy no one shall take from you.
When that day comes, you will not ask me any questions. 1

Forgetting all, my quest
ended, I stayed lost to myself at last.
All ceased: my face was pressed
upon my Love, at rest,
with all my cares among the lilies cast. 2

  1. John 16:22-23
  2. The Dark Night: Last stanza.



Is Love

God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.

The soul lives where she loves more than in the body she animates; for she does not live in the body but rather gives life to the body, and lives in the Object of her love.

The soul that loves God lives more in the next life than in this, for the soul lives where it loves more than where it gives life, and thus has little esteem for this temporal life.

It should be known that love never reaches perfection until the lovers are so alike that one is transfigured in the other. And then the love is in full health.

The reason is that in the union and transformation of love each gives possession of self to the other, and each leaves and exchanges self for the other. Thus each one lives in the other and is the other, and both are one in the transformation of love.

In the spiritual marriage the soul thereby becomes divine, becomes God through participation. It is accordingly the highest state attainable in this life.


Extract from the Spiritual Canticle by St John of the Cross


The Ascent of Mount Carmel

This sublime knowledge can be received only by a person who has arrived at union with God, for it is itself that very union. It consists in a certain touch of the divinity produced in the soul, and thus it is God himself who is experienced and tasted there. This knowledge tastes of the divine essence and eternal life.

Manifestly, in this high state of union God does not communicate himself to the soul through the disguise of any image or likeness, but directly: the pure and naked essence of God with the pure and naked essence of the soul.

  • St John of The Cross.  Asc. 16 : 9

Dark Night

So dark the night! At rest
and hushed my house, I went with no one knowing
upon a lover’s quest
– Ah, the sheer grace! – so blessed,
my eager heart with love aflame and glowing.

In darkness, hid from sight
I went by secret ladder safe and sure
– Ah, grace of sheer delight! –
so softly veiled by night,
hushed now my house, in darkness and secure.

Hidden in that glad night,
regarding nothing as I stole away,
no-one to see my flight,
no other guide or light
save one that in my heart burned bright as day.

Surer than the noon day sun,
guiding me from the start this radiant light
led me to that dear One,
waiting for me, well-known,
somewhere apart where no-one came in sight.

Dark of the night my guide,
fairer by far than dawn when stars grow dim!
Night that has unified
the Lover and the Bride,
transforming the Beloved into him.

There on my flowered breast
that none but he might ever own or keep,
he stayed, sinking to rest,
and softly I caressed
my Love while cedars gently fanned his sleep.

Breeze from the turret blew
ruffling his hair. Then with his tranquil hand
wounding my neck, I knew
nothing: my senses flew
at touch of peace too deep to understand.

Forgetting all, my quest
ended, I stayed lost to myself at last.
All ceased: my face was pressed
upon my Love, at rest,
with all my cares among the lilies cast.

  • St Juan de la Cruz  (tr. Marjorie Flowers)