Mystics have their own masterly manner of expressing themselves. The truths they teach are both plain, profound and packed with power. More often than not, they speak more to the heart than to the head. I was seized by the words of Meister Eckhart (1260-1327), the German Dominican philosopher, preacher, theologian and mystic who wrote: “Know that when you seek anything of your own, you will never find God, because you do not seek God purely. You are seeking something along with God, and you are acting just as if you were to make a candle out of God in order to look for something with it. Once one finds the things one is looking for, one throws the candle away. This is what you are doing.”
I pondered these words. They seemed to scour my spirit and convict me. I claim to be seeking God both in prayer and in life. But am I seeking him purely? Is God an “also” or an “only” in my prayer and life? Am I using God to get what I want as when I use a candle or a torch to look for something? Do I seek the blessings of God or the God of blessings? It is not easy to seek God purely and yet that is the only way we need to seek Him, if we are to find Him. When we seek Him and his kingdom not only as a priority but as the only goal of our prayer and life, then everything else falls and fits into place. Even more, everything else is given us because we have found every gift in the Giver. Seeking things without God is like trying to draw a circle without a centre.
There are friends, both priests and lay, who sometimes remark that I am being underutilised, if not wasted; that I would be able to do much more were I assigned to a bigger, busier and better parish. They for certain mean well. Is not a parish as good as the goodness one brings to it and the goodness one can draw from it? My own inner response to their concern is that the Master Builder knows what to do with this mason; where to post me to carry out his blue print; where to send me; how best he thinks the talents with which he has blessed me could be put to better use for the service of his people and for his greater glory. I often ponder and pray about the thirty years that Jesus lived unknown, unseen and unsung in Nazareth. When he had the whole world to be saved and the gospel to be proclaimed, why did the Father decide that he should spend such a long span of time in anonymity? Mathematically, does it not look unreasonably disproportionate? The Father had a plan for his Son. And even during those seeming “wasted” thirty years of hiddenness and apparent inaction, that plan was being fulfilled. Thirty years of hiddenness and only three years of public ministry. God seems to have got his sums wrong. God’s ways are not our ways!
In the silence and solitude of prayer as I sit before the Lord, I always tell him: “Dear Lord, I am here for you alone. I do not want anything beside you. Even if you were to give me nothing, I would still want to come to you. Indeed, you are more than enough for me. You are all I seek. I do not want to use you as a candle to look for anything else because you are my portion and delight. You are my light. And even if you mysteriously became darkness, I would still search for you.” Seeking God alone is an adventure whose thrill never wears out because the more you find him, the further like the horizon he recedes. That is his way not only of keeping the search alive but also of making us understand that we cannot possess him because he always remains beyond our grasp. God is; he cannot be had!