MYSTICISM: First Vision—On The Oright Of Life (7) by Hildegard of Bingen

March 1, 2019

From: Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works, With Letters and Songs Everything God has done was done by the Deity before the beginning of time in the divine present.  In the pure and holy Godhead all visible and invisible things shine before all eternity without a temporal moment and without the elapse of time, just as trees and other bodily things are reflected in adjacent waters without being within them in a bodily fashion, even though their outlines may appear in this mirror.  When God said, “Let it be done!” things were enclosed at once within their forms, just as the divine providence had seen them in an incorporeal way before time was.  Just as everything in front of a mirror shines within that mirror, all the works of [...]

MYSTICISM: First Vision—On The Oright Of Life (6) by Hildegard of Bingen

February 22, 2019

From: Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works, With Letters and Songs On the topmost part of the right wing’s curve you can see the head of an eagle with fiery eyes.  In those eyes a choir of angels shines as in a mirror: When people subject themselves to God on the height of triumphant subservience and overcome Satan, they will advance and enjoy the bliss of divine protection.  And if they are inflamed by the Holy Spirit and lift up their hearts and turn their eyes to God, the blessed spirits will appear within them in total brightness and carry up to God the surrender of those individuals’ hearts.  For spiritual people, who in the devotion of their hearts often gaze at God like the angels, are marked with an eagle.  [...]

MYSTICISM: First Vision—On The Oright Of Life (5) by Hildegard of Bingen

February 15, 2019

From: Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works, With Letters and Songs A wing emerges from each side of the figure’s neck. Both wings rise above the ring and are joined there because the love of God and the love of our neighbor – if they proceed through the divine power of love in the unity of faith and embrace this faith with the greatest longing – cannot be separated as long as the holy Godhead conceals the immeasurable splendor of its glory from human beings and as long as human beings abide in the shadow of death.  For they are bereft of the Heavenly garment they lost through [...]

MYSTICISM: First Vision—On The Oright Of Life (4) by Hildegard of Bingen

February 8, 2019

From: Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works, With Letters and Songs Another golden ring surrounds the head of this appearance, for the Roman Catholic faith, which has spread throughout the entire globe, began out of the most brilliant glow of the first dawn. Only faith grasps in deepest reverence the abundance of this love, which exceeds all understanding: the fact that God through the Incarnation of the Divine Son redeemed humanity and strengthened it through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Thus the one God is known in the Trinity – God who was God in the Godhead eternally and without any beginning.  In this circular image you see above the head also another head, which is like that of an elderly man.  This signifies that [...]

MYSTICISM: First Vision—On The Oright Of Life (3) by Hildegard of Bingen

February 1, 2019

From: Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works, With Letters and Songs And again I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me: God, who created everything, has formed humanity according to the divine image and likeness, and marked in human beings both the higher and the lower creatures.  God loved humanity so much that God designated for it the place from which the fallen angel was ejected, intending for human beings all the splendor and honor which that angel lost along with his bliss.  The countenance you are gazing at is an indication of this fact. For what you see as a marvelously beautiful figure in God’s mystery and in the midst of southern breezes – a figure similar to a human being – signifies the Love of our Heavenly [...]

MYSTICISM: First Vision—On The Oright Of Life (2) by Hildegard of Bingen

January 18, 2019

From: Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works, With Letters and Songs I, the highest and fiery power, have kindled every spark of life, and I emit nothing that is deadly.  I decide on all reality.  With my lofty wings I fly above the globe: With wisdom I have rightly put the universe in order.  I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon, and stars.  With every breeze, as with invisible life that contains everything, I awaken everything to life.  The air lives by turning green and being in bloom.  The waters flow as if they were alive.  The sun lives in its light, and the moon is enkindled, after its disappearance, once again by the light of [...]

MYSTICISM: First Vision—On The Oright Of Life (1) by Hildegard of Bingen

January 11, 2019

From: Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works, With Letters and Songs And I saw within the mystery of God, in the midst of the southern breezes, a wondrously beautiful image.  It had a human form, and its countenance was of such beauty and radiance that I could have more easily gazed at the sun than at that face.  A broad golden ring circled its head.  In this ring above the head there appeared a second countenance, like that of an elderly man, its chin and beard resting on the crown of the first head.  On both sides of the figure a wing grew out of the shoulders.  The wings rose above the above-mentioned ring and were joined there.  At the topmost part of the right wing’s curve appeared an eagle’s head.  Its eyes were like [...]

POETRY: Seeing Things by Seamus Heaney

June 9, 2018

I Inishbofin on a Sunday morning. Sunlight, turfsmoke, seagulls, boatslip, diesel. One by one we were being handed down Into a boat that slipped and shilly-shallied Scaresomely every time. We sat tight On short cross-benches, in nervous twos and threes, Obedient, newly close, nobody speaking Except the boatmen, as the gunwales sank And seemed they might ship water any minute. The sea was very calm but even so, When the engine kicked and our ferryman Swayed for balance, reaching for the tiller, I panicked at the shiftiness and heft Of the craft itself. What guaranteed us— That quick response and buoyancy and swim— Kept me in agony. All the time As we went sailing evenly across The deep, still, seeable-down-into water, It was as if I [...]


March 18, 2018

It was the first time I received that command: Eat orange, chocolate, milk. I was a young woman.  With long hair.  A car of my own. I had graduated from Berkeley.  Was working somewhere. I lived in a few rooms in an apartment, with my canoe tied up out back, in the little waterway that meandered through that neighborhood. My life, on the outside, at least, was most ordinary. Inside, it was a different story. For a few years, I studied a woman who led a church that followed the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Transcendentalism, it was called. Nothing outrageous.  Nothing strikingly heretical. Just a general softening of the gospels. It was a system of thought that I was well aware of. Even though I was living in California, Emerson [...]

EVIL: Love And Inadequacy

October 23, 2017

A little while ago, during a vision, I happened upon something.  Not intentionally.  Or, at least, I don’t think it was intentionally. I raised my eyebrows at it and decided that I didn’t want to know this. I’m not sure why.  But I decided I wanted to keep it a secret. Even from myself. But last night, not realizing I was on the same path that would lead to the same answer, I happened upon it again. So the secret was officially “out.” Everything that exists has a seen side and an unseen side. Pretty much every minute of the day we are unaware of this. That the good has a tangled side. That the bad have a confused and weak side. That what appears before us and convinces us it is what we see is not, [...]

POETRY: The Darkness by Angela of Foligno

September 27, 2017

When I enter that darkness I cannot recall a bit about anything human, or about the God-man, or anything owning specific form. Nonetheless, I see all and I see nothing. As this that I have spoken of withdraws—though not completely, as it seems to stay with me—I see the God-man. He draws my soul with utmost gentleness and maybe He whispers You are I and I am you. I see, then, those eyes and that face go gracious and attractive as He leans to draw me to Himself. In short, what proceeds from those eyes and what descends from that face is what I said I saw in that previous darkness rising from within, and which delights me so that I can say nothing much about it. When I am in the God-man, then my soul is alive. And I am in the God-man much [...]


July 29, 2016

It wasn’t anything I ever expected to find in my visions. It started out fairly normally.  I kept being shown that there was a great concern in the world.  A lot of people had the same prayer on their hearts. So I looked into it. I found someone who was passionate for this matter. And had written a number of prayers and posted them online. Probably I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help it.  I read the prayers and was horrified. So, being a former editor, I ripped them apart and sent the author my insights. Why pray for understanding when what is needed is food and shelter?  You see, I can almost claim the world’s championship trophy in understanding. But all the understanding in the world doesn’t do squat [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Spirit As The Origin Of Visions, Revelations, And Wonders, by Moyer Hubbard

June 30, 2015

From 2 Corinthians (in A Biblical Theology of the Holy Spirit) In 2 Corinthians 11 – 12, Paul finds himself bullied into a corner by the boasting of his rivals and feels compelled to fight folly with folly by engaging in his own limited campaign of boasting.  Under the heading, “visions and revelations,” Paul recounts the remarkable and, as he describes it, inexplicable experience of being snatched up to Paradise.  Although this is the only Pauline occurrence of the word “vision” (optasia), elsewhere in Paul’s letters, disputed and undisputed, “revelation” (apokalupsis) typically comes through the Spirit.  While Paul does speak more generally of revelations being “from the [...]

GOD 101: The Mechanics Of Love, or playing against type

November 13, 2014

“So, Joan,” he begins, leaning an elbow against a quasar.  “I’ve got this absolutely fantastic idea.” But he didn’t speak to Joan directly, did he? Instead he sent three luminous angels.  Saints, really.  But at that point in existence, what’s the difference? She was young.  So young. I remember being young. It wasn’t the content of the visions that mattered so much. It was the experience. The finding of the secret door at the back of the wardrobe and walking into a whole new land. And realizing that this whole new land was real. So did she understand what was being said to her? Really? Go lead a man’s army into battle and win the war for me. Of course.  Of course I will. It [...]

HEALING: Listen, or Approaching Unforgiveness

October 23, 2014

It was a direction that came during my evening contemplative prayer.  The time of prayer in my day that I had been dedicating to “working” on an unresolved anguish. Listen, he said. The directive did not come from the God, the Father, as is most usual for me.  Instead, it came from his son, Jesus. I felt, almost immediately, how different a command from Jesus was from one from his glorious father.  I trusted it more, if that is the right word.  Trusted it in terms of feeling that it would be “easier” to follow; not yet another offering of inscrutability that would take years, if not decades, to unravel.  The command, listen, from God, the Father, could very well end up meaning, sing the Alleluia chorus [...]

MYSTICISM: Vision Seven—The Devil, by Hildegard of Bingen

October 10, 2014

Then I saw a burning light, as large and as high as a mountain, divided at its summit as if into many tongues.  And there stood in the presence of this light a multitude of white-clad people, before whom what seemed like a screen of translucent crystal had been placed, reaching form their breasts to their feet.  And before that multitude, as if in a road, there lay on its back a monster shaped like a worm, wondrously large and long, which aroused an indescribable sense of horror and rage.  On its left stood a kind of market-place, which displayed human wealth and worldly delights and various sorts of merchandise; and some people were running through it very fast and not buying anything, while others were walking slowly and stopping both [...]

MYSTICISM: Overcome By The Power Of The Spirit, by Sarah Pierpont Edwards

September 26, 2014

Uncommon Discoveries Of The Divine Perfections And Glory From The Life of President Edwards, by Sereno Edwards Dwight On Tuesday night, January 19, 1742, I felt very uneasy and unhappy, at my being so low in grace.  I thought I very much needed help from God, and found a spirit of earnestness to seek help of him, that I might have more holiness.  When I had for a time been earnestly wrestling with God for it, I felt within myself great quietness of spirit, unusual submission to God, and willingness to wait upon him, with respect to the time and manner in which he should help me, and wished that he should take his own time, and his own way, to do it. The next morning, I found a degree of uneasiness in my mind, at Mr. Edwards’s [...]

SATURDAY READING: Flight Of The Spirit, by Teresa of Ávila

August 2, 2014

From The Book of My Life One night, I felt so ill that I had to excuse myself from the communal practice of silent prayer.  I took my rosary with me so that at least I could occupy myself with vocal prayer.  Since I was sitting in an oratory, it probably appeared that I was in a recollected state, but I was trying very hard not to let my mind become absorbed.  Such techniques are of little use, however, when the Lord wills otherwise. I had not been there for very long when such a forceful rapture seized my soul that I was powerless to resist it.  It seemed to me that I was carried to Heaven where I was greeted by my father and mother.  In the short amount of time it takes to recite an Ave Maria, I saw so many wondrous things that I [...]

SAINTS: The Visions Of Perpetua

February 6, 2014

Carthage, 203 A.D.  Among a group of Christians sentenced to the beasts in the arena is a wealthy young Roman mother.  While awaiting execution, she begins a diary that is completed by a witness who describes her death.  The resulting text has been read for centuries.  (Perpetua’s Passion, by Joyce E. Salisbury) First Vision I saw a ladder of tremendous height made of bronze, reaching all the way up to the heavens, but it was so narrow that only one person could climb up at a time.  To the sides of the ladder were attached all sorts of iron weapons: there were swords, spears, books, daggers, and spikes; so that if anyone tried to climb up carelessly or without paying attention, he would be mangled and his flesh would adhere to [...]

A LITTLE FLOWER: About The Apparition Of The Seraph And The Imprinting Of The Holy Stigmata On Saint Francis

December 22, 2013

From The Little Flowers Of Saint Francis Regarding the Third Consideration, that is, the apparitions of the Seraph and the imprinting of the Stigmata, you should know that when the Feast of the Cross in September was approaching, Brother Leo went one night at the usual time to say matins with Saint Francis. And after he had called, “Domine, labia mea aperties,” from the end of the bridge, as he usually did and as he had been ordered to do by the saint, Saint Francis did not answer.  Now Brother Leo did not go back, as Saint Francis had instructed him, but with a good and holy intention he went across the bridge and quietly entered the saint’s cell.  By the bright moonlight shining in through the door, he saw that he was not in the [...]

LOVE: Failing To Give Jesus My Pain

December 19, 2013

I remember as a girl hearing about the three tests a man would give his potential bride in Russia.  One of them was to untangle a ball of yarn. And I remember thinking, What a wonderful test. I couldn’t imagine a nicer thing to do on a rainy afternoon, listening to some wonderful music after my eyes grew tired of reading (it was before I knew that I was far-sighted and needed glasses to read with less eye strain). Perhaps even better than embroidery. But here I am, faced with untangling the threads of my past.  And I don’t find delight in it.  Instead of relaxing into patience, I tighten with impatience. Instead of tolerating the task of carefully untying the knots and following the lead thread on its twisted and confused [...]

ANGELS: A Tree Full of Angels, by Macrina Wiederkehr

December 19, 2013

From A Tree Full Of Angels My morning stroll has taken me farther than I had intended.  Sauntering up the hill, wading through the autumn leaves, I breathe in the crisp morning air.  It is just dawn.  Standing still for a moment, I see the first rays of sunlight shimmering through a silver maple tree.  It is truly a moment of wonder, resplendent with light.  I stand gazing as one in the midst of a vision.  Suddenly I am uncertain whether those golden arms swaying in the morning sunlight are tree branches or angel wings.  Such shining I find overpowering.  My wondering heart is filled with joy. And then in a twinkling I’m certain.  I am standing before a tree full of angels dazzling me with their glorious presence.  Bright [...]

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Handling Demons, or, The Art of the Broom

December 6, 2013

I’ve spent my life straddling two worlds.  And, to be honest, it has, on the whole, been annoying.  Really, really annoying. Working with God all these years has sharpened that expression of my brain that loves exactness.  I was an editor until I realized that I could never stop editing.  I would edit roadside signs.  I would edit menus.  I would edit pretty much everything coming out of anyone’s mouth. So I stopped being an editor. But with God, in some ways, I get to continue being an editor.  Because what I learn from him always has an exact edge.  It is precise. It is absolute. Hard, like a rock.  Solid. But with people, it’s always about mushing things together.  It’s OK to just think this about that, [...]

REFLECTION: In Search Of A Dream

December 3, 2013

I love Advent.  This much.  I love it, I think, because of its diversity.  You can, literally, go anywhere you want to spiritually in Advent. Just think of Advent calendars.  Why just last year, in addition to taking things very, very seriously, I still opened up one Advent calendar that had cookie recipes in it from one of the best food magazines.  And, because a movie of Les Miserables was due in the theaters, I opened an Advent calendar on the phenomena that is Broadway’s treatment of the book. I mean, Advent is just the best. And just look at Advent.  We get John, the Baptist, my favorite person in the whole world.  We get angels.  We get really strange pregnancies.  Well, just one really strange pregnancy. And in the [...]

LOVE: The Lord’s Fidelity To The Soul, by Gertrude of Helfta

November 19, 2013

From The Herald of Divine Love Injuries inflicted by a friend are usually harder to bear than those inflicted by an enemy, as the psalm has it: “If my enemy had reviled me, I would verily have borne with it.” (Psalm 54:13-14)  When Gertrude learned that a person to whom she had tried with more special zeal and fidelity to give help for the good of her soul had not corresponded with due fidelity – indeed, was acting in a contrary manner as though she disdained what had been done for her – in her distress she took refuge with the Lord.  He consoled her with these kind words: “Do not be sad, daughter, for I allowed this to happen for your greater spiritual welfare.  I take the very greatest delight in your company [...]

HEALING: Jesus, A Companion On The Curb

November 14, 2013

I find myself in the crotch — all right, fine, prong — of one of these ironies of God.  All my life, I used to call situations like these, God jokes.  But somehow, and for some reason, as I’ve aged I’ve mellowed, and find that the word, irony, is a more mature way of referring to this type of situation wherein I think I’m headed in one direction, but really, I’m still smack in the middle of the opposite way I thought I was headed and sinking fast. If you can do a better job describing this,  then be my guest. Twenty years ago now, give or take a year or two, I was going along and just happened to be studying miracles under the tutelage of God.  (Insert sound of whistling here, the tune, “Whistle [...]

VISIONS: Face To Face

October 4, 2013

I want to use the word, conspiracy.  But conspiracy has the overtone of an unlawful act, of criminality. So I can’t use that word. There’s, schematic.  But that’s a very visual word.  And visions aren’t technically visual (unless they are).  And these aren’t visual visions. I’m referring now to words.  Words that come together like a dance, an elaborate, mimed expression. It’s that time again.  The time of “hearing” the cooing chant of God.  Of feeling the closing-in pressure in the spiritual air around me.  Of expectation. Of threatened change. That change. That change when I leave ordinary actions behind to be just ordinary, and find that I am stepping, somehow, between the [...]


September 24, 2013

It was a few months ago, now, when I was asked, When you talk of binding souls, is that the same as in scripture: what is bound on Earth is bound in Heaven, what is loosed on Earth is loosed in Heaven? And the truth is, my answer is, I don’t really know. I’ll assume so.  I’ll assume so because my visions either originate or wind up being validated by scripture.  Then reality.  The two have to be there for me to “sign off” on a vision as “real.” But there it was one day.  My first assignment to bind a soul. My reaction, my usual for new (and seemingly bizarre) things, was a shrug, and the thought, Oh, for Heaven’s sake! What ridiculousness was I looking at now? My first binding It was, [...]

MYSTICAL WOMEN: The Pilgrim—Margery Kempe by Joan M. Nuth

September 14, 2013

From God’s Lovers In An Age Of Anxiety: The Medieval English Mystics Then they went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  The friars lifted up a cross and led the pilgrims about from one place to another where our Lord had suffered his pains and his passion, every man and woman carrying a wax candle in one hand.  And the friars always, as they went about, told them what our Lord suffered in every place.  And this creature wept and sobbed as plenteously as though she had seen our Lord with her bodily eyes suffering his Passion at that time.  And when they came up on to the Mount of Calvary, she fell down because she could not stand or kneel, but writhed and wrestled with her body, spreading her arms out wide, and cried [...]

POETRY: The Vision by Thomas Traherne

September 11, 2013

Flight is but the preparative. The sight Is deep and infinite, Ah me! ‘tis all the glory, love, light, space, Joy, beauty and variety That doth adorn the Godhead’s dwelling-place; ‘Tis all that eye can see. Even trades themselves seen in celestial light, And cares and sins and woes are bright. Order the beauty even of beauty is, It is the rule of bliss, The very life and form and cause of pleasure; Which if we do not understand, Ten thousand heaps of vain confused treasure Will but oppress the land. In blessedness itself we that shall miss, Being blind, which is the cause of bliss. First then behold the world as thine, and well Note that where thou dost dwell. See all the beauty of the spacious case, Lift up thy pleas’d and [...]