THE SOUL THAT SUFFERS WITH LONGING TO SEE GOD - St John of the Cross
Saint John of the Cross (1542–1591)
I live yet do not live in me, am waiting as my life goes by, and die because I do not die.
No longer do I live in me, and without God I cannot live; to him or me I cannot give my self, so what can living be? A thousand deaths my agony waiting as my life goes by, dying because I do not die.
This life I live alone I view as robbery of life, and so it is a constant death — with no way out until I live with you. God, hear me, what I say is true: I do not want this life of mine, and die because I do not die.
Being so removed from you I say what kind of life can I have here but death so ugly and severe and worse than any form of pain? I pity me — and yet my fate is that I must keep up this lie, and die because I do not die.
The fish taken out of the sea is not without a consolation: his dying is of brief duration and ultimately brings relief. Yet what convulsive death can be as bad as my pathetic life? The more I live the more I die.
When I begin to feel relief on seeing you in the sacrament, I sink in deeper discontent, deprived of your sweet company. Now everything compels my grief: I want — yet can’t — see you nearby, and die because I do not die.
Although I find my pleasure, Sir, in hope of someday seeing you, I see that I can lose you too, which makes my pain doubly severe, and so I live in darkest fear, and hope, wait as life goes by, dying because I do not die.
Deliver me from death, my God, and give me life; now you have wound a rope about me; harshly bound I ask you to release the cord. See how I die to see you, Lord, and I am shattered where I lie, dying because I do not die.
My death will trigger tears in me, and I shall mourn my life: a day annihilated by the way I fail and sin relentlessly. O Father God, when will it be that I can say without a lie: I live because I do not die?
St. John of the Cross translated by Willis Barnstone found in “Poems of St. John of the Cross”