His Call of Love
Every aspirant on the spiritual path soon realizes that life is more than just a sum of his physical and material achievements. Being an offspring of an all-caring Father, whose imprint is stamped indelibly on the marked soul, he receives an inner calling to discover his rich heritage. This call from within comes from One who does not speak with his tongue but who speaks directly to the depths of the aspirant’s inner being. This inner calling usually begins with a hint of a voice, a vision or simply a vague sense of emptiness – a void that no amount of material gratification can satisfy. By abandoning himself in love and total surrender, he begins to understand the mystery of God’s existence as well as his true identity.
Setting foot on the spiritual journey with a determined heart, the aspirant undertakes to gain liberation from the clutches of the world – a journey of realization of the soul and its ultimate reality. The sincere seeker may be imperfect in many ways, but he needs only to perfect his love for God. Through the guidance of a perfect living Master, he learns the technique of penetrating the dark veils within himself. Although the journey within is not a complicated affair in itself, it requires sincere yearning, perseverance and an indomitable spirit.
The journey of the spiritual aspirant is often adorned with many trials and setbacks. The inner chatter clouds the mind, the warm embrace that was once experienced at the start of the journey is replaced by an interior coldness, and the weary spirit is filled with extreme uncertainty. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux herself encountered this vast darkness within:
He permitted my soul to be invaded by the thickest darkness, and that the thought of heaven, up until then so sweet to me, be no longer anything but the cause of struggle and torment.
Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
However, it is precisely at this point of dejection that we must remember not to permit our imperfections and struggles to cripple our determination, but to travel in this stillness and rejoice in our weakness, for these inner upheavals serve a particular purpose in our eternal pilgrimage.
When you have grown still on purpose while everything around you is asking for your chaos, you will find the doors between every room of this interior castle thrown open, the path home to your true love unobstructed after all.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The beloved Father is looking everywhere for a sincere disciple who will remain faithful and loving even when he is left alone in the wilderness. Although he sends him hardships with one hand, he sends comfort with the other. He is standing right beside him with love, forgiveness and benediction in his heart so long as the seeker stretches out his hand to reach to his. Such is his kindness and mercy that he is always ready to support the struggling aspirant.
By practising all the virtues, keep lifting your little foot to climb the stairs of sanctity, and do not think that you will be able to get up even to the first step. No; but God only asks for your good will.
At the top of these stairs, he (God) is looking at you lovingly. Soon conquered by your vain efforts, he will come down himself, and taking you in his arms, will carry you forever in his kingdom …
My Vocation Is Love: Thérèse of Lisieux
The sincere aspirant, realizing his own weaknesses, and believing in the truth that strength can only be fortified by perseverance, effort and practice, will at once begin to exert himself. He begins to realize that in order to attain personal communion with God, he must not be overcome by doubts and confusion but continually stay in tune with him. Ultimately, it is grace and mercy – the mystery of God’s love – that will bring the soul back to its ultimate goal. God’s grace is abundant, and when he sees the weary soul’s sincere efforts, he will take the yearning soul back to its final destination. But the sincere seeker’s contribution to this great journey, however small, is highly significant, for it is the disciple’s effort to move towards the Lord that invokes his grace. Rumi expresses this beautifully:
… and just the moment, when you are all confused, leaps forth a voice, hold me close, I’m love, and I’m always yours.
Roya R. Rad, Rumi & Self Psychology
Having attained personal communion with God, the soul then realizes that the darkness he endured within was a necessary design in God’s plan. The soul had to be purified to be prepared for the divine union. God’s love is so fathomless, boundless and inexhaustible that the disciple is caught in rapt attention in a divine experience that envelops the soul.