In this column we continue with the translation of Fr. Lev Gillet’s meditation on the mystery of Divine Love. (From Archimandrite Lev Gillet, “A Monk of the Eastern Church”)
The Essential Connection
“My child,” God calls, “expand your vision to the dimensions of universal Love, to the dimensions of my Heart. Love without limits does not end with the human person. My Love upholds the entire universe. It is the essential connection, the vital bond, between all persons and things, and Him who loves them.
“Let yourself be carried away by the immense current of boundless Love. Be transported by this movement, this dynamic and aspiration of nature itself, which waits plaintively to be delivered from the consequences of the Fall.
“It is possible for man to ascend toward me; but do not lose sight of my descent toward mankind and toward all created things. Take a flower in your hand. Take a stone. Contemplate them, not in a scientific perspective, but from the point of view of Love. They represent a recapitulation of the world’s evolution. They are signs of the Love that aspires to reach the heights, as they are of the Love that comes to you from across the ages: the Love that reveals itself to you, that gives itself to you, that increasingly draws near to you.
“Behold the beauty of Love in a blade of grass, in a leaf or a branch, in an odor or a color. Enfold your life into the life of the universe, submitting it to the same divine purpose. Think of the mountains and the sea, of winds and storms, of wild beasts and the smallest animals. They all have their place in my Heart. Grant them a place as well in your prayer. May they orient that prayer toward greater venues than those of some simple piety in which the universe has no place.
“Look for a purpose of Love in every created reality. I have loved every grain of sand, every tree, every animal. Each of them represents both an ascension and a condescension. Unite yourself to them all. Express thanks in the name and in the place of mute nature. And may an adoration as vast as the world be your response to Love without limits.
“Do you admire the sun, the stars, the galaxies? Do you thank me for their creation and their presence in your life? Can you enter into divine Love for everything that exists?
“That may be difficult for you. How can we love snakes, after all? Yet even if you are bitten by a snake, you should attempt to love that snake, even as it bites you. Animals are not culpable. They merely do what their natural organism commands. They, too, were victims of an original Fall. Nevertheless, I never cease to love them all.
“A stone tossed into the water creates concentric circles that continuously expand. This invisible movement affects all the molecules in the universe. It is the same with my boundless Love. My Love is an emotion that spreads out to infinity and essentially unites all that exists.”
The Living God
“O Lord of Love,” the soul replies, “if I call you Love, if I discover in you Love without limits, I do not seek in any way to deify a ‘feeling.’ Love without limits is not a ‘feeling of love’; is it not some subjective, human sentiment.
“My Love, you are by no means some metaphysical attribute or psychological experience. Nor are you some moral imperative. You are not, either, an impersonal entity, a passing shadow or a fading image.
“My Love without limits, you are the supremely Living One, the Living God. I come to you as to the First Lover: a passionate Lover who knows no passion, but who bears in Himself, and to the highest degree, an active inner movement of passion. I come to you as to that Lover from whom every form of love flows forth.
“My Beloved is drawing near to me. And it is because He comes to me that I can draw near to Him. I hear the sound of His footsteps. I hear His voice. He is coming, just as He forever comes.”
The World in its depths
“My child,” God whispers, “this world is a world of signs. You must learn to decipher its secret writing.
“It is good that you discover and admire at every step of the way the beauty of the world. It is good that you remain aware of the creative act that brought it into being. Yet beyond a certain point, that is no longer enough. You must set this created splendor in its total context, which is marked by both pain and victory.
“If you have perceived that the mystery of the universe is Love without limits, yet a Love that sacrifices itself for you, you can no longer see things as they appeared before. ‘Natural’ beauty simply disappears with the vision of the Sacrifice of Love.
“You see the sun. Think then of Him who is the Light of the World, veiled in shadows. You see the trees, and their branches adorned anew with every new spring. Think of Him who, nailed to the wood, draws all things to Himself.
“You see the rocks and boulders. Think of the stone which, in a special garden, covered the entrance to a tomb. That stone was rolled away; and ever since, the door of that tomb has never been closed.
“You admire the crimson streaks that embellish the whiteness of certain petals. Think of the precious Blood that poured forth from Him who is absolute Purity.
“You see the sheep and the lambs. These innocent ones are led to the slaughter, yet they never open their mouths. Think of Him who, in a unique way, desired to be the sacrificed Lamb of God!”