Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
From time to time our master Teresa uses a literary device to awaken the reader´s interest, she moves events forward to foster the desire to live what she later will suggest.“Engolosinar”/ ”sweeten” (the verbs has the same root as the noun sweet/golosina), she would say. Let´s try.
What does it await those who persist in meditation prayer? How would Christ face life? Can we ourselves approach that goal?
Little is known know about the functioning of the brain, and even less when it is linked to the heart in love experiences. Teresa gives us some hints from her experience.
The deepest gaze-with physical and soul eyes-will be reached in the afterlife; there, we have been promised to see God face to face. In this life side, the closest look is the in depth one, the way lovers look at each other in silence staring intently:
“Just so, in this life, two persons of reasonable intelligence, who love each other dearly, seem able to understand each other without making any signs, merely by their looks. This must be so here, for, without seeing each other, we look at each other face to face as these two lovers do: the Spouse in the Songs, I believe, says this to the Bride: I have been told that it occurs there” (Life 27.10)
The partnership of intense love and mutual knowledge redesigns the look at life. The same happens with Christ in the sixth mansion.
In this loving process of union, Christ, the Sun of Justice, slowly opens her eyes and although she sees herself full of flaws, her looks is getting clearer and clearer, like in the Beatitudes, like to the blind people in the path. She is given everything free for deed and grace of the powerful Eagle of whom we are children.
“Before the soul had experienced that state of ecstasy, it thought it was being careful not to offend God and doing all that it could so far as its strength permitted. But once it reaches this stage, the Sun of Justice strikes it and forces it to open its eyes, whereupon it sees so many of these specks that it would fain close them again. For it is not yet so completely the child of that mighty eagle that it can look this Sun full in the face; nevertheless, during the short time that it can keep them open, it sees that it is wholly unclean. It remembers the verse which says: “Who shall be just in Thy presence?” (Life 20.28).
Suddently the story is enlightened by the symbol of the Eagle and the Sun of Justice, of our Lord Jesus Christ. When her interior look opens, she sees herself full of flaws as when a beam of sun light enters through the window. The cleanliness of the specks and the awareness of having them are great gifts for those who allow themselves to be taught to fly. No one who is making progress on their way should stop flying till he/she learns to look as eagles do.
“For this reason I should like those of us who have been professed for many years, as well as others who have spent long years in the practice of prayer, to retrace that period in their memories. I have no desire, however, to distress those who in a short time have made more progress than ourselves by making them turn back and go at our own pace, or to make those who, thanks to the favours given them by God, are soaring like eagles move like hens with their feet tied. Let us rather fix our eyes on His Majesty, and, if we see that these souls are humble, give them the reins; the Lord, who is showing them so many favours, will not allow them to fling themselves down a precipice. They themselves put their trust in God” (and their trust makes the truth which they know through faith of avail to them.) (Life 39.12).
To live from Love and in the Love of God is the aim of the sixth mansion. The raptures, as I have already mentioned, are moments of very intense loving union; in those moments the Eagle teaches us, finally, to love and fly:
“In these raptures the soul seems no longer to animate the body, and thus the natural heat of the body is felt to be very sensibly diminished: it gradually becomes colder, though conscious of the greatest sweetness and delight. No means of resistance is possible, whereas in union, where we are on our own ground, such a means exists: resistance may be painful and violent but it can almost always be effected. But with rapture, as a rule, there is no such possibility: often it comes like a strong, swift impulse, before your thought can forewarn you of it or you can do anything to help yourself; you see and feel this cloud, or this powerful eagle, rising and bearing you up with it on its wings. (Life 20.3)
The free will blindness in which we live becomes unbearable to her and she revolts against it in a shout made prayer:
“O Lord, what hardness, what madness, what blindness do we show! We feel sensibly the loss of some trifling object. The loss of a needle troubles us. The falconer is grieved to lose his hawk only for the delight which he takes in seeing it soar into the air; and we are insensible to the loss of this Royal Eagle, to the loss of the Majesty of God Himself, and of the eternal kingdom and the endless happiness which He has prepared for us. How is this, O Lord? How can this be? I confess that I under- stand it not. Deliver us, O Lord, from this amazing folly; heal us of this exceeding blindness.” (Exclamations of the soul to God 14.4)
The first dictionary edited in vernacular language was published by Covarrubias (1611). His pieces of advice help us understand better the symbol of the eagle. It is the only raptor able to fix its look at the sun without getting burnt (staring look) and able to look down searching for its game, and both at the same time.
Christ doesn´t let any divine or human reality pass by Him as He is the main Eagle, as Covarrubias says.
From there and only from there are we able to understand Jesus and the prophet’s capacity to discover the intimacy of the other just with a simple look; or to see reality without masks and report injustice. Meanwhile, the echo of Jesus and Isaiah’s words heard into our ears as a stern warning, “their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think.”