Finishing Proverbs this week, I read through the entire book of Ecclesiastes. I did not stop there because I have written on many verses and chapters in that book in my book, Blest Atheist. So, I continued on to Song of Songs. During my conversion experience, I mistakenly looked into the Song of Songs when I was told to do some research about Solomon. (Yes, I know; Solomon did write Song of Songs, but it was not that information about Solomon that I was supposed to be checking out.) Quickly realizing that this was not the information I was seeking, I moved on to other books in the Bible, eventually finding what I was looking for in the book of Ecclesiastes. I had no further contact with the Song of Songs until this past weekend when my reading of it coincided with a retreat I attended on St. John of the Cross. At the retreat, I learned that St. John of the Cross was enamored with Bible was Song of Songs, and the priest who led it asked us to read this particular book as the basis for our lectio during one of our lectio divina sessions. From the entire book, the verse (or rather, portion thereof) that strikes me the most is Chapter 8, verse 8: "...for stern as death is love".
Reading: Song of Songs 8:8
Meditation: I had never conceived love as stern before, but thinking back on 41 years of marriage, I would have to conclude that I do not disagree. But this is not marital love. This is the love of God for His creation. If the Bible tells us nothing else, it tells us that God's love is stern. Not cruel. Not demanding. Not selfish. Just stern. God wants us to love Him so He can give us the expanseless love He has for us. It is the kind of stern love that a parent has for a child at varying stages of that child's development. Stern is good in my experience as a parent and as a recipient of God's love.
Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to thank God for a love that is deep enough to be stern, repenting for any times I have chafed under the sternness. I will praise God for the greatness of His love. I will ask God for greater understanding and a willingness to comply with His stern love. Then I will move on to contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.
I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.