Christ embraces his Beloved in stillness, wedding his Beloved Bride, the Church, whose apostles testify to his resurrection, whose prophets unveil the Name and whose saints bear witness to glory in God’s God-centred glorification of God. Christ in our midst sings his Song of Songs that glorifies his Beloved in our midst. Desert wisdom is not a loveless exclusion but a passionate embrace which frees passions from the grip of exclusion, singing: ‘Come and see what insight sees when Christ is present in the midst.’ The Name anoints the heart with its fragrant oil of Chrismation, love poured out like wine, transforming the waters of purification into the wine of illumination, as the first Johannine sign, the marriage of Cana, signified (John 2:1-11). Christ as Logos punctures the heart with a holy compunction, penthos, severing soul from spirit like a two-edged sword. The severed confusion turns into an undivided union in the pierced heart. Black but beautiful, grace is dazzling darkness when the unveiled Face of the Beloved is revealed in imageless radiance. But such love is not stirred up until grace is ready to reveal it, which is when the heart is ready to receive it. The garden remains enclosed and the fountain sealed until the Bridegroom comes and embraces his Bride. The Bride is almost ready when she can say her Beloved is her’s and she is his (Song 2:16), which is her betrothal, but her marriage happens when she can say she is her Beloved’s and her Beloved is her’s (Song 6:2-3). Her betrothal to her Beloved, Christ, is a sacred hierogamy, opening to her marriage, which is a holy theogamy.
Christ loves his desert Bride whose costly wisdom is stronger than death, well able to withstand floods of chaos and raging torrents without being drowned. His kiss of grace silences conditioned fear, stilling conditional hope, raising broken hearts from hells of despair into hallowing heavens of love. The fragrance, shemen, of the Name, Ha Shem, is the grace of love’s glory transfiguring the desert into a flowering paradise. Christ’s gaze glorifies all he embraces, awakening our fragrant nard with his glorious myrrh. His kiss of grace unveils the beauty of his dove, like an icon of the fragrant presence of the Holy Spirit in his Beloved, an ineffable expression that transcends symbols even as it includes them. Elders abide at the zenith, in the full light of glory, but they do not presume to express this experience in literal ways or through conditional means. The rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley flourish under the gaze of grace at the zenith of glory, but shade, too, is a blessing, not a shadow of darkness, for souls that cannot yet bear the direct light of glory may live in its light when shaded by luminous form or glorifying symbol. Wisdom wounds with gentle love but never imposes or forces himself on the soul. Christ’s wound of love, his vulnus amoris, pours forth waters of purification and life-giving blood, love’s wine of light and glory, on all who turn and see (John 19:34). Desert elders keep watch as the mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation and the Eucharist transfigure into purifying fire, a hallowing flame that glorifies saints who glorify God with God’s God-centred glorification of God.
Christ calls to saints in the desert with a Song of Songs, Sir Hassirim, his Best of Songs, opening the enclosed garden and releasing its sealed fountain. The Holy of Holies really is a Bridal Chamber when wisdom discerns glory in the pierced heart of light. Metanoia turns awareness back into the hidden, uncreated heart of awareness, presence into the heart of uncreated presence, awakening seeing, theoria, that as wisdom, discerns the hidden heart of graced insight, freeing grace to unveil its hidden heart in the revelation of glory, as deification or theosis. Desert elders, overawed by wonder, do not presume to quench the Spirit of these ineffable symbols by explaining them. Instead, they gaze on what transcends both conception and perception, discerning the gaze of Christ in the Spirit shining forth within them, transfiguring the heart. Their grasping minds sleep a holy sleep when their hearts awaken, when the Shulammite’s dazzling turning turns hearts from the disease of war and battle-lined thinking, dancing between whatever armies have drawn up in readiness for war (Song 6:12 ; 7:1). The wisdom of the Shulammite unveils Great Peace, Shalom, sealing the heart with the Spirit’s gift of Peace. Christ abides in the midst when the Spirit prays in the midst, unceasingly invoking ‘Abba, Father,’ awakening mysteries of glorification in the hallowed Name. Mystical marriage conjoins the Bridegroom and the Bride in the Bridal Chamber of the Holiest of Holies, completing as glory what purification and illumination began when uncreated light pierced the heart.
Christ’s left hand supports the Beloved’s head and his right hand embraces his Beloved in mysteries of union and communion. The desert veils with revered symbols the unceasing love that inspires Christ in the Spirit to seal the heart for God (2 Cor 1:22, Eph 1:23; 4:30). He seals the forehead as well as the heart when He crowns saints with glory. The flame of the Name is stronger than death. It burns with an intensity that overturns hell, bringing home lost sheep into the fold. The epiphany of the Name in seven hells is a theophany of the Name in seven heavens. The opening of the enclosed garden is paradise regained but the release of the sealed fountain is wisdom’s revelation of glory here on earth as it is already revealed in heaven. Flames of the Name awaken the eye of the heart from within, calling to the desert to rise and come forth in the Name of blessing. Wisdom waits to be noticed, loved and known, refusing to force his way in. Hidden with Christ in God, the Spirit of wisdom is inaccessible to the curious and invisible to the ambitious, driven by pride. The dove hides in the clefts of the rock where wisdom embraces her in the concealed recesses of the cliff. When winter’s desolation is past and storms of delusion are over and gone, spring flowers of glory bloom and the season of glad songs comes. Great Peace turns hearts, illumines foreheads in the heart, deifies doves of peace in the grace of an unveiled Face. Wisdom turns and turns, again and again, as she dances her love-dance between our binary exclusions, ascending and descending at centre with healing in her wings. The ancient symbols work with hallowing power without our understanding how.
The eye of the heart is winged like angel’s wings, dazzling our darkness with uncreated light. The eye to see opens ears to hear and hearts to awaken to winged wisdom abiding with love’s glory in the midst. Her voice is heard, whispering the Name, as she unveils the Face of God, beautiful and glorious beyond reckoning. She arouses love as she stirs up longing for light then glory, curing fear with love that releases fear’s compulsive separation, freeing up stubborn resistance and liberating distancing division. Wisdom calls out in the silence of the desert for seers to turn and see, to open care to increasing love, to transform concern into love’s increasing glory without end. Desire turns into ecstatic fire and purifying love, enlightening wisdom as deifying glory unveiling the Face of Grace in the midst. The Spirit conspires to inspire the heart with a hallowing conspiration, seer and seen conjoined, through God both seer and seen. Clever analysis sleeps in peace as the heart awakens to what revelation releases into freedom. Elders prefer stillness to clever scholarship because in stillness wisdom beholds glory. Wisdom waits to be recognised, loved and known, refusing to force his way in. An ancient Song of Songs embraces a primordial gaze, kiss and sacred embrace that heals pathological passions, cutting through clever analysis and leaping over scholarly brilliance. For as the Apostle John reminds us, “God is love and all who dwell in love dwell in God and God in them,” (1 John 4:16).
When wisdom beholds the Holiest heart of the Holiest of Holies as a Bridal Chamber, an ancient symbol is revered because it enshrines mysteries in the midst that transcend conception and perception. Wisdom’s wound of love pierces the heart with an invisible stigmata, Cherubic wisdom conjoined with Seraphic glory enthroning God in the midst. The Passion of Christ cures pathological passions, here at centre, drawing upon hidden depths within the pierced heart. Spiritual marriage continues to offer keys with which many mysteries of glory are opened. Wisdom’s theandric theopathy opens them all in timeless simultaneity, although in time a faithful assimilation of them opens them one by one. Wisdom’s gaze and kiss of grace opens to a sacred embrace that remains ineffable even as it is imparting its timeless glory. This is the mystery of the Bridal Chamber, which should not be read down to a gender issue, because in Christ gender releases into androgynous union, liberating opposition into coinherent communion. Shulammite turning dances a way between contraries without fixation, without addiction to opposing opinions, without clinging to past syntheses or dreading future antitheses. Awareness of uncreated presence turns into presence of uncreated awareness when wisdom and glory kiss and embrace in the imageless gaze, unveiling in the Holiest of Holies the timeless Face of glory.
Mystical marriage engages ancient sacred symbol, analogy and metaphor to point to mysteries of glory beyond conception, cleansing perception and imagination of divisive degeneration. Turning turns into an ineffable gaze that surrenders to the ineffable kiss of grace, opening in turn to an ineffable embrace, transcending all reification. The function of lived symbols opens to glory beyond representation, awakening to God’s union with God in God, Holy Trinity, at centre, through the flame of the Name. A living flame of love heals as it burns, soothes as it slays, completes as it empties us, that God through God may empty into us. Winged wisdom empowers us with angelic vision well able to restore the primordial angelic estate before the fall, whilst including all that has happened since without fixation, undoing falls from glory. Great Peace rests in peace at the zenith where glory is at its highest, where wisdom descends lowest to restore deepest hells to highest heavens. Great Grace reveals Great Glory at the heart of Great Peace, revealing how the uncreated light of wisdom manifests uncreated glory in the midst. Mystical marriage is Christ’s wisdom conjoined with Bridal glory in the Spirit, healing and hallowing creation in the uncreated light of the Name.