Our Deepest Desire
Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.
Reach up as far as you can, and God will reach down to you. This saying, from an unknown source, may well describe the experience of most of us. In the reaching, I have often thought that there are many people in the world who are Carmelites in their hearts, and do not know it. One could ask what it means to be a Carmelite. Simply put, one could say that a Carmelite is someone who has a thirst for God and who goes in serious quest for that God, only to gradually discover that God has been very near all along. Added to this, most Carmelites will tell you that, in their search for God, they are also in search for their purpose in life.
Our Unique Deepest Desire
Along this line, it appears that our search for that purpose is in some way related to our unique deepest desire. It is desires that bring us to our place in the world.1 Through the years, I have become aware of the fact that it is a worthwhile exercise to examine all of our desires, for it is always possible that our small desires could be covering up those real desires, deep down. Catherine of Siena felt that being in touch with our desires is a way of touching God.
Just to touch our deepest desire, or desires, awakens hope, lifts us up, gives us added strength and unbinds our fears and anxieties. Added to this, it is always possible that our deepest desire is not just for us. It may at times tell us what God wants for the world, and it could be that we are called to keep this desire alive for the world. In addition, these God-given desires usually open new possibilities for the future. Philip Sheldrake points out that “at the heart of all of us is a center that is a point of intersection where our deepest desire and God’s desiring in us meet.” 2 Good desires are a part of us and a part of God. While we search for our deepest desire with great ardor, it is important to note that our desires can change from time to time, since it is the Spirit who leads.
All Our Longings
Another word for deep desire, of course, is that of “longing”. Karl Rahner, S.J. addresses this in his treatment of what he calls a “searching Christology”. Edmond Dunn, in his What is Theology?, also picks up this theme. There are three parts to this longing:
1. We long to love another human being with a love that holds nothing back, confident that our love will be accepted and returned without measure.
2. We long to be able to face death with absolute confidence that we will fall into the arms of a loving God.
3. We long to face the future with an indomitable hope that, in spite of sufferings in this life, goodness is victorious in the end. 3
All of this comes to be through God’s becoming one of us in Jesus.
Julian of Norwich felt that God, too, has desires. Meister Eckhart writes that longing is a part of God’s nature. Because God longs for us, we long for God. What could be more strengthening and comforting! Every day, in every way, we need to be reminded of this.
1 This current reflection was inspired by the following:
Philip Sheldrake,S.J., Befriending Our Desires, (Ave Maria Press, Inc., Notre Dame, IN, 1994)
2 Ibid, p.26.
3 Edmond Dunn, What Is Theology?, (Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic CT, 1998) p.84.
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