I don’t know if you realize it or not, but our lives have a purpose, and that purpose is love.
We are born with an instinctive desire to love and to be loved, yet without really knowing what love is or how to do it. The purpose of our mortal lives (i.e., this life that will end in death) is to learn to love, because our eternal destiny (the life that extends beyond death) is to live in intimate communion with God, who is Love. Therefore, we must get to know Him before death catches us off guard, so that when we meet Him at the moment of our death, we will recognize Him as the friend we have been yearning for all our life.
One Purpose, One Choice
So our purpose in life is to learn to know the God who is Love, and to become like Him so that we can love as He does. If we don’t do that, if we can’t be bothered with God, we have wasted our lives and die unprepared for eternity. Believe me, you do not want to find out what that will be like. Just imagine: an eternity where there is no love, no truth, no friendship, no joy, no light, no comfort, no rest . . . and no getting away from the fact that you have gotten what you wanted: to be shed of God once and for all. It’s hell even to try to imagine it. But it’s your choice. I say, choose life. Choose truth, beauty, and goodness. Choose love. Choose God.
You’ve got your whole life to make this choice — it’s never too late. Until you’re dead. Then it is too late. But if you’re reading this, you’ve still got time.
However, my purpose here is not really to convince you to make the right choice. I just mention all this because it explains why I’m here — I have already decided, long since, that I want to know God. I want to know Love. I want to know how to love, and there is no one better to learn from than Love Himself.
I’ve spent most of my life so far in just this endeavor and I intend to carry on doing so, as wholeheartedly and unstintingly as I can for the rest of my mortal life–because, when my breath (my breath, my life) finally leaves this mortal body, I want God’s breath, His life, already to fill me so completely that “shuffling off this mortal coil” will be no more bothersome than peeling off a sweater when one steps into the sunshine.
Learning to Love
But I’m not there yet, and I’ve got a long way to go. I’ve been bumbling my way deeper into God’s embrace for decades and recently realized that I’ve come farther than I thought. When I look back over the course of my life, I see a long slog that, at the time, often seemed like a blind stumble through the bramble patch but which now, in retrospect, looks more like the tottering career of a toddler whose Father has repeatedly, lovingly reached down to help me make a course correction before I ran straight into a wall or, worse, fell off the path into the abyss. He has always been there, even when I thought He wasn’t or when I thought I had reached a dead end. When I called out “Marco!” He was always closer than I could imagine, answering, “Polo!”
Anyway, none of that was what I planned to say when I decided to start this blog and write the first post. What I intended to say was this:
In this blog, I want to read through some of the great — but largely unknown today — works of the Christian mystical tradition, so that I can learn from those who were much farther than I along the path that leads into the heart of God. I’m not an expert on mystical theology or a particularly adept pray-er, so my comments on these works will be those of an amateur — literally, a “lover,” someone who loves God and wants to love Him more. I hope that by learning from greater lovers of God, the mystics of the past, I will be able to see more clearly how to move forward and perhaps, by doing my reading and commenting on this public blog, be of some use to others as well.
Things may not go exactly as I first imagined. I’m still learning what God wants of me, you see. But I will try to follow through on my good intention to learn more about how to pray in a way that will carry me ever deeper into the heart of God. I invite anyone who wishes to come along with me. Feel free to leave comments and offer suggestions.