Bird in Flight


From Wendy Farley’s The Thirst for God: Contemplating God’s Love with Three Women Mystics [speaking here of the medieval mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg]: “Mechthild uses intense images to lead the mind beyond images. This can be unsettling and disorienting as one abandons the consolation of clear ideas about God for the nakedness of pure awareness. But however frightening it may seem, the soul seeking unity with God is only seeking its own nature: “A fish in water does not drown. A bird in the air does not sink.” Like a fish in the void of water, we fall into an abyss but discover who we are….

Hers is a direct challenge to theologies that deify might or terrify the mind with images of a divine executioner…. Too often their theologies project onto heaven their own fantasies of power rather than infusing human society with the lesson of divine love. For Mechthild and for all of us, theology is both inherently limited and indirect. But it is also important. How we envision divine power, love, mercy, or goodness will shape us and our societies.



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