Remember, if you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever awakens you to love. —- St. Teresa of Avila
Throughout history even during the darkest times there were always people who knew, who remembered, souls who still retained the thread to “oneness”. We call them mystics. St. Teresa of Avila was a bright candle shining in a very dark time. Born in 1515, life was brutal and cold and short. The Church had a strong hold on the people and the knowledge of the Egyptians and Greeks was long forgotten. The knowledge of other realms still remained in a few brave souls holding the light until more were able to remember.
Teresa’s wisdom is still as deep and beautiful today as it was 500 years ago. She wrote the Interior Castle, a classic mystical work on the living soul. At a time when physical survival was an overwhelming burden, Teresa turned to the interior world of spiritual growth. Her mystical union with God was so great that she had visions during which she levitated. She spent her life writing and reforming the Carmelite convents in Spain.
Along with other mystics, such as Meister Eckhart, St. Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, and John of the Cross, Teresa kept walking the very faint path to mystical union with God that was nearly forgotten. The writings of these great masters still shine a light that is so important today.
In 2001 I spent a couple of hours in Avila Spain, Teresa’s home, north of Madrid. I was on a violin tour of Spain with my daughters and this small town was one of the stops. I wish I had known more about St. Teresa at the time but I do have a vivid memory of standing in the Cathedral at her shrine. It was Corpus Christi day, a feast day commemorating the Body of Christ. There were banners through the main street and a procession to the Cathedral. The little girls who had taken their first communion that year wore their fancy white communion dresses for the procession. It was a magical day, everything thing seemed to glow, the blue sky, white dresses, the Cathedral.
A favorite book that I’ve returned to over and over the last few years is an interpretation of Teresa’s famous Interior Castle. Entering the Castle by Caroline Myss brings Teresa’s visions and wisdom to life for modern seekers. It is a manual for the exploration on the interior life. I keep it near me and read it often to remind me what I need to know and be. As I grow, there are always new room and passage ways to explore in this private castle. Bless the medieval mystics who held the Light for us so we would not lose the way.