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Befriending Our Desires, by Philip Sheldrake, S.J.

by davesandel on August 21st, 2011

Befriending Our Desires, by Philip Sheldrake, S.J., 1994

131 pages

It took me awhile to get used to Sheldrake’s writing.  At times I felt dulled by it.  Sometimes my head swam with too many words, too many quotes from other authors, a heaviness that held down his ideas.  They did not fly, and neither did I.

That said, as I spent more time with the ideas and allowed Sheldrake’s tendency to marshal arguments from many quarters, I was captured by the parallels I felt from my own life.  I remembered how in 1976 I argued the “ultimate” ecstasy of sexual experience with my Unification Church group leader Nadine, who was inviting me into celibacy and a period of waiting for the return of the “Third Adam.”  I’ve never quite left that idea behind.  But at the same time I watched Japanese and Korean members of this community weep real tears of love for God.  Their lives were more relinquished then than mine has ever been. Gradually, I know some of their love.  Gradually, I know something of their God.

I admire Sheldrake’s willingness to take an argument to its conclusion and a word to its ultimate meaning, whether or not that is “messy, sticky and smelly” (p. 37-38).  DESIRE doesn’t limit itself to the intellect; it begins in the body and often stays there.  Here’s a thought: if desire is an aspect of incarnation, it is not unreasonable to expect God too to have desires.  Eros in God?  Oh, for Pete’s sake! But Sheldrake’s argument and conclusions are fascinating.

He returns over and over to the task of identifying my deepest desire, which for him is an important aspect of  “discernment,” suggesting that my physical sensations and experiences are important markers on that path.  He takes an entire chapter to pull off our overly modest covering of sexuality, sex, intimacy, and desire.

What does fly in the book, and lifted me out of my chair more than once, were Sheldrake’s choices of poetry and memoir.  R. S. Thomas and Etty Hillesum were important contributors to his book.  I couldn’t wait to get on Amazon and see what I could find, to read more.

Talking within the intimacy of the counseling relationship, I notice people over and over second-guessing their desires.  I certainly do that too, in spite of my personal and philosophical focus on permission, waiting, grace, and love.  With his theology and focus on practical methods of discernment, Sheldrake makes that second-guessing less of a problem and, potentially, far less paralyzing.  Inviting and embracing change, with the risks and provisionality (his word) involved in change, becomes The Way to follow Jesus. St. John of the Cross writes, “To come to be what you are not, you must go by a way in which you are not” (p. 87).  And that Way is never-ending.  R. S. Thomas writes:

Because You are not there

When I turn, but are in the turning …

What matter if we should never arrive

to breed or to winter

in the climate of our conception?

Enough we have been given wings

and a needle in the mind

to respond to His bleak north (p. 109)

Although Sheldrake chooses to end his book with the words of another, I like his own concluding words even better, as he writes: “Because God has no shoreline, as it were, the desiring of our hearts will also, I believe, prove to be of infinite extent and duration” (p. 127)

Outline of Befriending Our Desires:

  1. Preface
  2. A Spirituality of Desire?
    1. Desires or Ideals?
    2. The Power of Desire
    3. Should I Have Desires?
    4. Desire and God
    5. Authentic Desires
    6. Toward a Spirituality of Desire
  3. Desire and God
    1. God’s Wants
    2. Incarnation and Cross
    3. Gospel of Luke
    4. Passionate or Passionless God?
    5. A Vulnerable God
    6. Eros in God
    7. Unity of Agape and Eros
    8. Desire and the Spiritual Journey
    9. The Song of Songs
    10. Desire and Self-Image
  4. Desire and Prayer
    1. True Prayer
    2. Desire Is Prayer
    3. Desire and Ignatius Loyola
    4. Desire and Julian (of Norwich)
    5. Desire and Hedewijch (Flemish, 13th century)
    6. Active Desire
  5. Desire and Sexuality
    1. The Erotic
    2. Intimacy
    3. Liberation from Private Will
    4. Sexual Union and Union with God
    5. A Crossing of Boundaries
  6. Desire and Choosing
    1. To Live Is to Choose
    2. Realizing Our Destiny
    3. From Many Desires to Deepest Desire
    4. Different Kinds of Desire?
    5. Great Desires
    6. Desire and Ignatian Discernment
    7. Meditations of Desire
    8. Deepest Desires and God’s Desiring
    9. A Contemplative Experience
    10. Conflicts and Blocks
    11. Hearkening Unto Myself
  7. So Seek Forever: Desire and Change
    1. Fact of Change
    2. Stages of Transition
    3. Change and Commitment
    4. Conversion
    5. Desire and Journey
    6. Desire and Eternity
  8. References (Sheldrake reads and quotes, reads and quotes … so this is a Great list!)

Some quotes from Befriending Our Desires:

“Unless we feel free to own our desires in the first place, we will never learn how to recognize those that are more fruitful and healthy, let alone how to live out of the deepest desires of all.” – p. 10

“Desires are best understood as our most honest experiences of ourselves, in all our complexity and depth, as we relate to people and things around us.  Desires are not the same as instincts … on the other hand, desires undoubtedly overlap with our needs and neediness … When we choose to talk of befriending desires rather than simply responding to needs, we are implying that desires involve a positive and active reaching out to something or someone.” – p. 12

“We can think of desire as an openness to the fullness of what is rather than what ought to be.  Desires, then, contrast with a world of duties or of unrealistic dreams.  Any ideal that attempts to overcome desire and replace it with cool reason is both inhuman and unattainable.” – p. 13

“(Desire is) one of the few ways of touching God (wrote Catherine of Siena): “You have nothing infinite except your soul’s love and desire.” – p. 14

“Even holy desires – the desires that ultimately find their rest and quietness only in God – tap into energies that are partially physical.  The sensual, indeed sexual quality (understood properly) of even holy desires is witnessed to by the language of many of the great Christian mystics.” – p. 15

“The Spirit blowing where it wills is the risky, wild and profligate side of God inviting us to seek a similar risky freedom and to pour ourselves out into situations, commitments and relationships.  The Spirit is vulnerable as well as powerful.  To allow ourselves actively to desire is also to be vulnerable.” – p. 15

“The teaching of the Christian church has tended to place a very strong emphasis on external sources of authority in contrast to our personal desires … Duty, faithfulness to the expectations of others, or self-denial in an almost literal sense of denying individual personality and tastes all too easily became the criteria for spiritual progress – often to the detriment of physical and psychological health in the long term.” – p. 16

“We have inherited an image of a very disengaged God … whose perfection … is to be self-contained, still and at rest … God’s will is eternal, predetermined and extrinsic to our own hopes and feelings. If we believe ourselves to be created in the image of that God, we can easily associate desire and passion with lack of balance, confusion, loss of control and dangerous subjectivity.” – p. 18

“Authentic desires come from our essential selves rather than from the surface of our personalities or from our immediate reactions to situations and experiences … At this level the questions ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What do I want?’ touch intimately upon each other.” – p. 21

“At the level of deep desires, any distinction between what we desire and the desires with which God gifts us actually begins to blur … We experience desires that are both uniquely our own and also uniquely God-given.  I think it is important to affirm at this point that these remarks are true of healthy sexual desire as well.” – p. 22-23

Two questions inform a potential spirituality of desire: “Is God a God of desire? … Second, if we say that the goal of all human desire is God, does this mean that all other desires are a distraction or that God is to be found at the heart of all desire?  I suggest that a thoroughly Christian, incarnational answer is the second.” – p. 23

“Our desires imply a condition of incompleteness because they speak to us of what we are not or what we do not have.  Desire is also, therefore, a condition of openness to possibility and to the future … Desire comes into its own as the condition for discerning what our choices are and then choosing from within the self rather than according to extrinsic demands.” – p. 25

“Human desire is the image of God within us.  It is God operating in us and gifting us with a holy dissatisfaction with anything transitory or less than all.” – p. 30

“The notion that God desires us implies that, in some sense, God needs us, and this is a much more difficult notion for us to grasp and accept.” – p. 33

“In the story of the efforts of the shepherd to retrieve one lost sheep (Luke 15), God rejoices in the ‘wastefulness’ of love … focused on each person particularly and equally … God’s desire is always to include all that would otherwise be lost.  Nothing is too slight, nothing too insignificant.  Lost sheep, lost coin – and then, lost son.” – p. 34

“(In the story of the prodigal son), the desire of the father is so powerful that it is in some sense the very presence of that desire that brings the boy to his senses in the pigsty.  The same power drives the father down the road to draw the son home.” – p. 34

“God’s being is to love, but it is also to be loved.  God is somehow incomplete if not loved.” – p. 35

“If we accept that both the incarnation and the cross reveal the very heart of God, then we are bound to say that the nature of God is not to cling but to be self-emptying and to be non-possessive.  God continually risks a pouring out into the cosmos.” – p. 36

“It is important to express the inclusive nature of God’s love and that God has no favorites in the notion of agape (or universal love).  But we also need to redeem the notion of eros in God.  God also loves specifically, longingly and in a particular way and this, essentially, is what eros love implies.”- p. 37

“The church tends to be uncomfortable with the ‘messy, sticky and smelly’ quality that is an inherent part of every kind of human engagement … an overbalanced spirituality of detachment or separation follows from a search for reliability … Because flesh and human intimacy are affected by decay and uncertainty, they are patently not reliable … these equations … tend to protect not only God but us from all that is impermanent.” – p. 38

“Truly disinterested love is not impersonal.  It is deeply engaged and yet free from self-seeking … Agape and eros are not two different loves but two qualities of the one human love, just as they are complementary aspects of Love itself or God.” – p. 39

(Giving credit to Paul Tillich, Sheldrake writes:) “Religion without eros will tend to be reduced to moral values and dutiful rituals … Stable social and religious roles will tend to outweigh the value of the great variety of our own personal lives.” – p. 39

“Eros in God also makes it possible to come to know the divine in the experience of human sexual relations.  Indeed, human relations provide our primary image of God in everyday terms … true loving, true eroticism, is always an experience ‘in God.’  God is erotic power properly understood and is the erotic power between people.” – p. 40

“We can only truly desire God if we actually believe that we are capable of growth … the more self-aware I am, in the best sense, the more I feel the pull of this perfecting … in proportion to the sense that my life is significant.  So, desire for God is rooted in self-belief, which is why attention to our all too human desires, including their ambiguities, is not irrelevant but vital!” – p. 45

“Prayer is not just one activity among others – explicitly and exclusively focused on God – but the whole rich mixture of event, action and receiving gifts that constitutes our relationship with God in the midst of human life.” – p. 48

“It is not simply because we want very strongly that we receive.  The mystery of petitionary prayer cannot be solved so cheaply … True desire is all … If we desire something single-heartedly out of the depths of ourselves, it can be ours … To desire something strongly enough is always to deprive ourselves of the alternatives … To desire is to choose and exclude and thus to experience a small death.  Yet the experience of many people is that if it is authentic it will be a moment of enlightenment and expansion rather than of fundamental loss.” – p. 52

“To ask for what I desire, or to stand in desire is likely to be an experience of conversion and change … learning to want what can actually answer our longing.” – p. 53

“It is vital to discover the thread that links our desires together.  We might say that we need to recognize the deep desire behind the desires we more easily express. (This requires) the freedom to do exactly what (we feel) like, rather than what is expected, to become aware more freely of what (we) deeply want!” – p. 55

 Our deepest desires need to be stimulated.  A powerful medium for this is our imagination … Desire big things, the biggest of all that God can give, the coming of the Kingdom, and you will find that the smaller needs are not rejected but always included in that gift.” – p. 55-56

“The unlocking of our desire in prayer creates a dynamic whereby the least encounter with God stirs us to seek more … But this has a perpetual quality of incompleteness, for we never come to possess God finally.  (Julian of Norwich:) “So I saw him and sought him, and I had him and lacked him.” – p. 58

“The moment you feel yourself to be in definitive contact with the reality of God, you have missed God. Hadewijch’s unfaith bypasses what is manageable and controllable in human terms.” – p. 61

“The language of stripping ourselves of every thought and desire for what is not God does not imply the destruction of human desire but its intense concentration, which can fan a spark into a flame.  For, if directed toward many objects separately, our desire is dissipated.” – p. 62

“The paradox is that as God’s presence is perceived more deeply so desire is increased rather than satisfied.  For Julian, God is a God of desire and this quality in God lasts until the end of time … Whether we can understand desire as existing even beyond this, in whatever we mean by eternal life … it would appear that longing and desire, ours and God’s, are qualities that remain until we are caught into God’s ‘bliss.’” – p. 63

“For classical Christianity it was human sexual language that was usable in terms of human encounters with God, not human sexual experience.  The result was an uncomfortable paradox.” –p. 67

“Eros love does transcend purely physical desire, but it does not bypass it.  When directed toward another human being, eros love includes the physical but is not oriented primarily or exclusively to pleasure or to the release of physical tension.  Eros love strives ultimately for union with whatever we perceive to be the source of all value for us.” – p. 71”

“There is an important difference between false eroticism and true eros love.  The first is an uncontrolled desire to draw other people into ourself … Eros love is a unitive power bringing together elements that belong to each other … a desire for another person mediated through his or her body and the experience of being joined.” – p. 71-72

“Spiritually, the human body is the sacrament of a person.” – p. 72

“The scandal is that our Christian faith, while based on a particular instance of embodied love (Jesus on earth and the cross), has so little place for the religious significance of the erotic (particular, embodied love).” – p. 73

“Where an overbalanced emphasis on the afterlife has appeared in religious thinking, the inevitable result is a devaluation of the erotic … Can we experience, even if only partially, what is of absolute value in the here and now?  Are we capable of reading spiritual depth into the enjoyment of all good things as God’s blessings and God’s playfulness?  Or is real fulfillment and joy only to be found in the hereafter – a better life in a better place?” – p. 74

“Christian insights about eros love and agape love remind us that to become complete we are all called to seek the eventual integration of particular and universal love.  Only within our experiences of intimacy with other people, whether genital or not, may we learn a way of being fully present to both ourselves and to others rather than being superficial and remote in our emotional lives.” – p. 76

“German poet Rainer Rilke suggested that real love does not consist in ‘merging’ but means ‘that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.’” – p. 76-77

“The moral dimension of sex is essentially linked to our inner life in the Spirit rather than to abstract norms and external guidance.  As we learn what we desire (both what we enjoy and what we need in the broadest sense) and learn to communicate that desire, we come to live increasingly in relation to it rather than to compulsion on the one hand or moral guilt on the other.  This is the process of becoming a sexually mature person.” – p. 78

“To give and to receive sexually has a sacramental quality as long as it truly aspires to be a gift of self and a joyful receiving of another person, rather than merely an exchange of bodily stimulations.  Spirit touches spirit … it ‘is an outward sign of inward grace’.” – p. 79

“Sexual union is Eucharistic, a liturgy that may heal and restore loving partners to a spiritual centeredness.” – p. 79

“(Overcoming) our fears of absorption … (we enter) a deepening sense of the wholesomeness of our person … We move slowly toward the horizon of non-exclusive, universal love where, as in God, eros and agape are found ultimately to be one.” – p. 80

“Shared sexual joy, as a step toward God rather than as a substitute for it, is a genuine act of worship, a genuine prayer.” – p. 81

“(In Jewish tradition the Song of Songs) was sometimes read on the Sabbath evening as a reminder that the beginning of the Sabbath saw the arrival of a ‘Bride’ who was to be welcomed.  Sexual intercourse between spouses was also encouraged on the Sabbath night.  To make love out of the fullness, relaxation and joy of the Sabbath was the earthly counterpart of the holy union that occurred on the Sabbath evening between the shechinah (the indwelling presence of God, sometimes seen as the feminine aspect) and the masculine aspect of God.” – p. 82-83

“For the religious person both death and sex are channels of union with God and/or another person that involve the dissolution of the boundaries that normally identify us as individuals, distinct from other people and all that surrounds us.  The dissolution of boundaries can take place without loss of personal identity.  In this way both death and sex share in the traditional characteristics of mysticism.” – p. 84

“For adults, sexual relations may at times be a major source of ecstatic experiences.  However, we have been conditioned not to think of them this way.” – p. 84

“Ecstasy is a moment in which some otherwise distant reality is glimpsed as here and now and at one with oneself.  This is a peak experience.  It is something that is dangerous and damaging to grasp for its own sake … such addiction is to mistake the means for the end.” – p. 85

“Intimacy with another human being (physical or otherwise) … is the privileged context for experiencing God as immanence.” – p. 85

“In the process of maturing we hopefully move, whether consciously or not, from fulfilling the expectations and desires of others to a greater realization of our own desires and the appropriateness of choosing for ourselves.” – p. 88

“There is a journey into the cave of the heart where our essential self and God both dwell.  The problem is that we are often the prisoners of our immediate and urgent neediness.” – p. 89

“We have, in a sense, to dive headlong into our experience, into our desires, in order to discern truly.   To discern our deepes desire involves an act of commitment as well as an experience of enlightenment.  To discern is not, on the one hand, purely a deeper level of awareness or, on the other, merely a decision.  It (does include) coming to a realistic acceptance of how we are situated in the world of places and events.  Discernment, in other words, is a matter of continually reaching out for integrity.” – p. 89

“(Our ‘destiny’) is not something imposed from outside by a God who acts like some puppet-master of the universe, making demands of us irrespective of our circumstances.  On the contrary, destiny is ‘what lies in us’; it is our special gift. This does not make it painless: (as Etty Hillesum writes from Nazi-occupied Holland) ‘No, it is a terrible, sacred, inner seriousness, difficult and at the same time inevitable’.” – p. 90

“The key to discernment is not technique but the focused intensity of our desire.  It is a matter of attitude and relationships – the quality of how we relate to ourselves, to other people, to created reality, to God.” – p. 91

“We will never come to know our deepest desire except through attention to the many desires … ‘I have so many desires, I don’t know what to do with them.’  But it is in fearless engagement with this confusion, rather than simply by some activity of our rational, detached intellect, that we move toward our center.  The many desires are staging posts on a journey toward what is most true in us.” – p. 92

“The way we treat our bodies affects the deepest longings of our spirits.  And our spiritual desires find their expression in our immediate feelings and in our bodily reactions … Our so-called spiritual desires do not exist in a separate compartment of life.” – p. 93

“For Ignatius, it is much less helpful to search for the roots of our actions than to focus on the direction in which our desires and longings are moving and the deeper moods that they create.  Discernment is all about recognizing the energies that drive us.” – p. 95

“The basic characteristics of (Ignatian) consolation are an increase of love of God as well as a deepening of human love, an increase of hope and faith, an interior joy, an attraction toward the spiritual, a deep tranquility and peace … Ignatius is not talking about the immediately pleasurable.” – p. 96

“In contrast to consolation (Ignatian) desolation may initially feel quite pleasant and attractive.  However, whether on the surface or deep down, desolation ultimately reveals itself as drawing us in destructive directions … a decrease of faith or hope or the capacity to love truly … turmoil and confusion at a deep level rather than merely surface disturbance.” – p. 96-97

“Psychological depression and spiritual desolation may overlap at times, but they are not precisely the same thing.  There are people who suffer from lifelong clinical depression but who may, nonetheless, be said to be in consolation because they never quite lose touch with the love and faithfulness of God as their deepest truth.” – p. 97

“Can we always trust our experience of desires?  We can if we befriend them and then test them rather than try to ignore them or bypass them, (… to discover the) desires that are genuinely part of a pattern of consolation.” – p. 101

“There is a point at which any attempt to write about desire and discernment begins to run out of vocabulary!  This is precisely because what we are considering is not a skill or method but a contemplative process that leads us toward the Center that we call God … Our difficulty with pinning down the whole business in words actually models the inclusiveness of the process of discernment.  (Words lend themselves to what this is not:) an easily defined ‘objective’ and disengaged position.  (Better to call it what it is), an entering into a way of mystery and darkness and therefore of loss of control – and ultimately of abandonment to God.” – p. 102-103

“There will be some point in life (or perhaps a number of points) when we come to know ourselves to be controlled or defined by many things outside ourselves – misshapen images of God, an overdeveloped sense of duty, the expectations of other people.  Then there is a gradual struggle toward … really choosing rather than being chosen for.” – p. 104

“To learn how to choose freely is also to learn a great deal about dying – about letting go of much that is apparently necessary, satisfying and good in life for what is ultimately better.  Such deaths happen daily.” – p. 105

“One of the most painful experiences arises when we find that what seems to be genuinely our heart’s desire is continually hindered with apparently insuperable obstacles.  This inevitably raises the question of what this is actually saying about our deepest desire … (Asking good questions about this does not) always solve the dilemma …Sometimes we really can do no more than sit with the desire and the obstacles and wait for the meaning.” – p. 106-107

“God always calls us out of our future, comes to us from our future.” – p. 109-110

“For the Celtic Christians and wanders, the ‘pilgrims for Christ,’ the sea was not simply a route somewhere but an archetypal symbol of a deliberate spiritual displacement.  It was the massive and powerful “between place” that was never far away.  Here wayfarers were, like the Israelites in the desert, always ‘on the way.’  It might be said that the sea was a place of desire as the pilgrims sought above all else what they called the place of their resurrection.” – p. 110

“The notion that knowing, stability, fixed points, being utterly clear or possessing all we need is what we should expect in life, is questionable.” – p. 110

“(Can we) create a spirituality of change, which will enable us to live within a condition of permanent transition?” – p. 110

“It seems to me that a belief in absolute human certainty conflicts with the reality of desire for the infinite that is inherently part of our human condition … there is always ‘more’ beyond our vision and grasp, (though …) part of our human instinct finds the experience of uncertainty profoundly disturbing.  Maybe it is to compensate for this that we tend to create a vision of life after death, specifically heaven, as a condition that will provide us with all that we feel we lack in the present life … as contrasting in all respects with our life now rather than  completing or fulfilling it.  We lose any sense of there being a profound continuity with our essential human experience in the present.” – p. 112

“Transition marks a boundary between two situations of relative stability … This transition or boundary place may be where, as far as our consciousness is concerned, we can only wait, (while we experience) both a departure and an arrival.  Waiting can sometimes be a purging of our need for the security of the past and a place where the intensity of our desire for growth may be increased.  Departure has to take its time; arrival of the new cannot be complete until the ending of the previous life structure is complete.” – p. 113-114

“All true commitments include risk and exclude total certainty.  Anyone who has made any kind of solemn vow knows this only too well.  Without the balance of risk and provisionality we could not make the commitments in the first place.” – p. 116

“In reality we can only discern the truth of our desires and the focus of our commitments at any given moment as best we can, that is, provisionally.  At some point we need to stop equivocating and choose to risk a commitment … (but) commitment is itself a journey.  We are right if we think that human commitments are dangerous because unpredictable, an balk slightly at the prospect.” – p. 116

“It would be false to pretend that any human embodiment is absolute.  The experiences of commitment and choice, therefore, have two dimensions.  First, we need to be wholeheartedly engaged.  But second, in terms of the human contexts within which we express them, commitments are always a risk and are always, provisional.” – p. 117

“The God who is at the heart of change and to whom we are converted ultimately eludes us.  There is always a new aspect.  Whatever illumination we receive, we are always left at a new ‘square one.’” – p. 118

“There is a consistent temptation to turn aside from the search for a true vision of God and to settle for one aspect, one face of God, and call it ‘all.’  … The danger of so-called conversion experiences, particularly in our consumer culture, is that the langue we use can give the impression that the task has been fully accomplished.  We will now live happily ever after … but conversion is more likely to mean that things, perhaps for the first time in our lives, get out of control.” – p. 118-119

“The experience is not a commodity called perfection but a process of being continually filled.  It involves responsiveness rathe than grasping.  For this, we have to give up the search for the horizons we find humanly so necessary – especially tangible progress and visible success.” – p. 119

“In both human loving and our love of God, the conversion process is one of ‘de-centering,’ that is, of moving beyond seeing the self as the unquestioned center of reality … Only falling in love, both with another person and with God, makes it possible for us to surrender the self to any significant degree at all.” – p. 121

“Two theologies existed side by side in the Hebrew scriptures, sometimes uncomfortably so.  The theology of the “Moses” school of thinking was always sharply aware of the spiritual temptations of settling down and becoming too fixed in our ways.  The experience of wandering, of desiring but never totally arriving, of complete trust in God, was central.  The contrasting theology of the “King David” school reflected the experience of coming into possession of the land, of settlement and of developing a Temple cult.” – p. 122

“One of the later Christian traditions that picked up this theme of movement and journey and turned it into a focus for spiritual desire was the Celtic, especially the Irish, one … The development of peregrinatio, wandering exile (led to …) not just change, journeying and movement in themselves, but ‘to seek the place of our resurrection.’ … It focused human desire away from settling for a mere this or that … The wanderers remind us in a romantic and dramatic way of the inner journey of desire that all Christians are called to undertake.” – p. 123

“What drives the whole process of existence for a human being is the desire for God, that is, eros.  This implies a perpetual and not accidental process of growth and change.” – p. 126

“In the powerful words of the French thinker, the late Michel de Certeau, mystical experience is to be caught up in ‘an eternity without shores.’  Because God has no shoreline, as it were, the desiring of our hearts will also, I believe, prove to be of infinite extent and duration.

“(Certeau writes) ‘He or she is a mystic who cannot stop walking and, with the certainty of what is lacking, knows of every place and object that it is not that; one cannot stay there nor be content with that.  Desire creates an excess.  Places are exceeded, passed, lost behind it.  It makes one go further.  It lives, nowhere.’” – p. 127

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