Surrender

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From Wendy Farley’s The Thirst for God: Contemplating God’s Love with Three Women Mystics [speaking here of the medieval mystic Mechtild of Magdeburg]: “Mechthild uses the poetic image of surrender to make a theological point: divine power allows love to displace might. Surrender is a way of saying that the divine impulse to redeem humanity is overwhelming and irresistible. Just as Romeo galloped across Italy to return to Juliet, the Trinity is overmastered by Love’s compulsion to abandon majestic sterility. “When God could no longer contain himself, he created the soul and, in his immense love, gave himself to her as her own.” In this image, God is powerless to withhold God’s power; God is enslaved by love for humanity. This metaphorical excess is familiar in love songs and poetry: the lover would walk five hundred miles or swim the deepest ocean or stand out in the rain. There are no mountains too high or rivers too wide to keep lovers apart. In these exuberant love songs, love is the extravagant delight of lovers willing to bleed out their whole being for the other. From Mechthild’s perspective, if our theology or spirituality is governed by terrifying images of a divine judge or jailer, we will not understand that this kind of power is rejected by God. The Trinity has surrendered to love and will stop at nothing to entice the beloved soul back. This divine alchemy resists direct description and can only be hinted at through a variety of metaphors. Surrender is a temporal metaphor for something that is always the case: the deepest truth of creation lies in the presence of God to the human soul, unimpeded by egocentrism, suffering, or sin. This eternal truth is damaged by the fall, but its fundamental reality is not destroyed.”

Roger

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