We may not have the physical presence of our Bridegroom in the way the disciples did, but the Bridegroom is very much with us, in the Eucharist and in His dwelling within the heart of our hearts.
I am black but lovely, daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the pavilions of Salmah…” The Song of Songs 1:5
“‘I am black’: this is the effect of pain that dries up, pinches and darkens her face. The beloved is black, which is the color of the night, the color of trial, the color of her exile. Her soul is in the dark, and this shows in her complexion… the hard time of exile marred the face of the Bride.” (The Cantata of Love p.89)
I stood before the bathroom mirror staring at my anorexic body, tears streaming down my sunken cheeks, and I was deeply aware of the “blackness” of my emotional, spiritual and physical self. Like the Bride in the Song of Songs, I saw my brokenness, sorrow, and affliction, but unlike the Bride, I did not see anything “lovely” in the mirror that day.
That is, until I closed my eyes to the image of my wounds and shame and saw an image of You, Jesus.
I saw Your Face.
I saw how You gazed at me… tears running down Your Face.
I saw Compassion.
I felt Love gently enfolding my frail self and I heard You say…
“Do not be ashamed. This shame you feel is not your burden to carry. I see your emaciated body, your broken heart, and your weary soul and I weep. But I also see your loveliness, your beauty, and your strength.”
“The Bride’s fundamental beauty has not been touched by her sorrows. And the Bridegroom will soon agree, finding only grace in her. … if I am willing to expose my face to the eyes of the Bridegroom, His look does change me. The Bridegroom necessarily transforms what He sees.” The Cantata of Love p. 90
Your gaze, Jesus, is not like ours.
You look through my skin and bones and see my bleeding wounds, my shattered heart, my tormented soul. My visible body and it’s frailty, brokenness, and sickness is a sign, a visible manifestation, of my deep wounds.
And when I prayed aloud to You and said, “Why did he not see that it was not ok… that I was not okay?” I was seeing how my anorexic body was trying to show him how deeply he was hurting me… but he did not see.
Now Your gaze, Jesus, penetrates right to my soul. You see me – all of me – and you do not turn away.
You do not become angry, shaming, critical, judgmental, or impatient.
You pour your healing love onto my open aching wounds. As my heart and soul heal through You seeing me, so does my body. Your loving and healing gaze restores the grace and beauty deep within my heart and soul; the very same grace and beauty with which the Father endowed me on the day He formed me in my mother’s womb.
“What brings about the return to beauty is to go back to the true beauty from which one had gone away.” St. Gregory of Nyssa
Again and again, as I lift the veil and invite You to gaze lovingly into my brokenness, I experience integration…. wholeness…. wounds stop bleeding and heal deep within and without…. a melting or fusing together occurs… as though my newly restored body receives my soul and the two melt into oneness… I feel a warmth and softness and yet an energy, a fullness throughout my body. I feel healthy and strong… a new strength in my skin and bones and deep within my soul.
I want to dance for You in this new heart and with this restored body.
Will You dance with me My Jesus? May I stay forever in Your look of love?
“All powerful and transfiguring look of the Bridegroom! What is essential is to remain in this look. Therefore, it is impossible to despise and depreciate oneself because one cannot see oneself anymore but through the loving and transfiguring look.”
The Cantata of Love p.91