Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.
Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
(From “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” by Wendell Berry)
This week I have been reading St. Teresa both to prepare for a class I am teaching in the fall at Wake Forest Divinity School on Mysticism as well as to finish my Shalem training for spiritual direction. What has struck me about this saint’s writings is how deep they are but how modest she is. Teresa will write about an astounding spiritual experience and then end the chapter by apologizing for the vague writing of a neovite on the spiritual path. She ends the book writing, “I confess that I am deeply confused and so I ask you through the same Beloved to remember this poor creature in your prayers.” Yet when you read the Interior Castle, there is not sign of confusion nor does St. Teresa seem anything but a poor creature.
She is a woman of faith who has a sure assurance that God will lead her into the inner chambers of God’s love and that God’s love will sustain her to transform her order of the Discalced Carmelites. Teresa was a visionary but was able to be a vehicle of transformation because all she did was rooted in the love of God. She was always listening for what God called her to do and then she acted upon that call. She had her detractors but she didn’t spend her attention on them.
We are in the Great 40 Days of Eastertide. The Risen Christ shows himself everywhere. He’s on the road to Emmaus; he comes to the Upper Room; he’s with the disciples as they are fishing. The disciples turn from their fear of the Empire to remember the Great Love and that turning enables them to change the world.
“Go with your love to the fields” the poet says. “Make more tracks than necessary,/ some in the wrong direction./ Practice Resurrection.”
I don’t want to ignore the issues of the day, but focusing on what I am against will never lead to new life. Like Teresa, I want to get into the inner rooms of the Castle and that means letting go of my baggage and looking for on the Risen Christ among us. I need to remember what I am for instead of focusing on what I am against because our lives are too short and there is so much of God’s glory to behold.
Teresa had no money; the Inquisition was against her; her family thought she was foolish; some or her spiritual directors thought she was crazy. Yet she had a vision of a new way of being human as a follower of the Lord and that vision moved her—literally and figuratively and changed the world.
What’s the love that moves us? Can we have courage to make more tracks than are necessary even if some are in the wrong direction as that love moves us out? Can we practice resurrection?