There was a man running in great fear from a pack of angry wolves in the late evening when it was dark. He came close to the edge of a cliff and paused. He heard the angry wolves, and then he heard a voice within say “jump.” Wrapped in his fears, he jumped and managed to catch a small tree growing from the side of the cliff. There he clung for some time. Finally, in total darkness, he heard the voice say “let go!” But he continued to cling to the tree as he could not see the bottom. The voice repeated: “let go!” so with a big sigh of surrender, he let go and fell to the bottom just three feet below his feet.
In Saint John of the Cross, Master of Contemplation by Fr. Donald Haggerty (Ignatius Press), he cautions in Chapter 2: Caverns of Longing Within the Soul that “it is important to keep in mind that Saint John of the Cross is writing for souls who aspire to contemplation and ultimately to saintliness.” This chapter reminded me of the story above. There are times when we all stand at the edge of our own chasm, pausing, struggling with our fears and doubts, trying to discern how we got there and what we should do.
For those willing to embrace the teachings of St. John of the Cross, as many of our Carmelite saints have, Fr. Haggerty’s writings seek to give you “a deeper appreciation now for both the hard demands of contemplation and its undeniable attraction.”