March 12, 2010

"In the Midst of That Night, In My Darkness" (A Poem of St. Symeon the New Theologian)

By Saint Symeon the New Theologian

In the midst of that night, in my darkness,
I saw the awesome sight of Christ
opening the heavens for me.
And He bent down to me and showed Himself to me
with the Father and the Holy Spirit
in the thrice holy light --
a single light in three, and a threefold light in one,
for They are altogether light,
and the three are but one light.
And He illumined my soul
more radiantly than the sun,
and He lit up my mind,
which had until then been in darkness.
Never before had my mind seen such things.
I was blind, you should know it, and I saw nothing.
That was why this strange wonder
was so astonishing to me,
when Christ, as it were, opened the eye of my mind,
when he gave me sight, as it were,
and it was Him that I saw.
He is Light within Light, who appears
to those who contemplate Him,
and contemplatives see Him in light --
see Him, that is, in the light of the Spirit.
And now, as if from far off,
I still see that unseeable beauty,
that unapproachable light, that unbearable glory.
My mind is completely astounded.
I tremble with fear.
Is this a small taste from the abyss,
which like a drop of water
serves to make all water known
in all its qualities and aspects?
I found Him, the One whom I had seen from afar,
the One whom Stephen saw
when the heavens opened,
and later whose vision blinded Paul.
Truly, He was as a fire in the center of my heart.
I was outside myself, broken down, lost to myself,
and unable to bear the unendurable brightness of that glory.
And so, I turned
and fled into the night of the senses.