Where have you hidden,
Beloved, and left me moaning?
you fled like the stag
after wounding me;
I went out calling you, but you were gone.
The soul’s chief aim in this verse is not to ask for sensible devotion, in which there is neither certain nor clear possession of the Bridegroom in this life, but for the manifest presence and vision of his divine essence, in which she desires to be secure and satisfied in the next life.
The bride of the divine Song of Songs had this very idea when, longing for union with the divinity of the Word, her Bridegroom, she asked the Father: Show me where you pasture and where you rest at midday [Song 1:7]. In requesting him to disclose his place of pasture, she wanted him to reveal the essence of the divine Word, his Son. For the Father does not pasture anywhere else than in his only Son, for the Son is the glory of the Father. And in begging that he show her his place of rest, she was asking to see that same Son.
The Son is the only delight of the Father, who rests nowhere else nor is present in any other than in his beloved Son. He rests wholly in his Son, communicating to him his essence at midday, which is eternity, where he ever begets him and has begotten him.
When the soul, the bride, cries: “Where have you hidden?” she seeks this pasture, the Word, her Bridegroom, where the Father feeds in infinite glory, and she seeks the flowering bosom where he rests with infinite delight of love, deeply hidden from every mortal eye and every creature.
Saint John of the Cross
The Spiritual Canticle
The Spiritual Canticle: Stanza 1, No. 5
John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.