Carmel In The Heart
Here in Carmel , we are surprised by how often we ask ourselves what it means to have Carmel in the Heart. Anne Frank, in her Diary (Pan, 1968), writes the following:
“Today, the sun is shining. The sky is a deep blue. There is a lovely breeze, and I am longing for everything. I feel my heart beating, as if it is saying: “Can’t you satisfy my longing?” I don’t know what to read, what to write, what to do. I only know that I am longing.”Carmel in the heart seems to be that longing. Sometimes, this longing doesn’t even have a name. Could it be that it is the spark of God given to us when we were born? It is awesome to think that we are carrying the spark of God within us.Ronald Rolheiser, in Forgotten Among the Lilies , points out that the wisdom seekers of old spoke of “a desire of the part to return to the whole”. In other words, there is a part of us that wants to be with God. We are homesick.There are times when our longing seems to touch that of another. Recently, my friend, who, for a long time, has been searching for her purpose in life, met another friend and asked how she was doing. To my friend’s great surprise, her friend responded: “ I’m looking for my purpose in life.”
St. John of the Cross feels that we all have a light burning within us to show us the way. I would like to think that this light companions our longings. It is there as a faithful and comforting Presence, quietly encouraging and strengthening us. Sometimes, the prayer of longing is the best kind of prayer. Longing is another way of experiencing God. There may even be times when we long together, without knowing it.
As I write, a story comes to mind. Brian Kokensparger, in the Creighton Daily Reflection of June 13, 2006, recounts an event from his childhood. One summer, his family was camping at a nearby state park. In the middle of the park, there was a huge water tank. To help the tank blend in with its surroundings, dirt had been piled up around the tank nearly to the top. One dark evening, he and his brother prevailed upon their mother to allow them to go and play on top of this tank. Finally, their mother agreed.
With that, the two grabbed their flashlights and ran up the hill. From the top they could see campfires and lanterns in many directions. They experimented with their flashlights to see how far the beams would travel. Then, it happened. First one flashlight, then, another. Gradually, dozens of flashlights shone from all directions and could be seen ascending the hill.
I ask myself what is so attractive about this story. I can feel myself being up on that hill with a flashlight. I see the lights in the dark. I can sense people around me. There is an air of oneness. The night is peaceful and delightfully cool. It seems like that for a brief time, the longing is lifted. There is a feeling of intimacy with God and with one another. The longing in those around me is quieted, also.
Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D