In my opinion, the question as to whether the pinnacle of the mystical life ought to be sought after in either the enlightenment of the intellect or in the love of the will, can, regarding the Carmelite school, first of all, best be answered by not contrasting too starkly qualities which are most intimately united in human nature—as they also are in the nature of God, in Whose image and likeness mankind was created—and which are one, in spite of the distinction between them.
The Carmelite school considers mystical union to be the perfection of human nature rather than the particular perfection of its capacities. […]
While writing this, I am listening to the roaring and the rushing of Niagara Falls.
In a most magnificent way, this cascade reveals to me how water, subjected to the law of gravity, and following the nature of a liquid, flows towards the lower areas of the earth. In my fatherland, the Low Countries on the Sea, the Netherlands, there are no waterfalls.
Full of wonder I gaze at the rushing waters, which continuously plunge from the high riverbed above into the riverbed which suddenly lies meters below.
What is exactly the beauty, the truly most beautiful aspect, of this natural wonder? […]
Thousands admire it without considering the water’s potential, without ever having heard about this. They do not come here to see the splendor of the water, to admire the richness of its nature, but for the grand, imposing sight of the continuously approaching waters, suddenly plunging down with thunderous vehemence, only to then spray upwards in clouds which descend as rain meters away, and then fall into the foaming, chasing river.
They listen to the roaring and rushing and cannot get enough of that wild music. They delight in the dancing of colors that is played out in the water, not only by the rainbow, which stands at its center when the sun is shining but also by the colors taken on by the water, depending on whether it rushes less or more over the rocky cliffs. Here it is emerald green; there it is white as silver and elsewhere pearly grey; at other places, it still reveals the dark background of the rocky cliffs. […]
This amazing waterfall is visited by millions for its incomparable beauty. I myself prefer to contemplate the deeper level of this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. Not only are eyes and ears fascinated, but much more so my intellect, which reflects upon what has been placed in the water by God.
I do not only see the richness of the water’s nature, its immeasurable potential, but I see God working within the work of his hands and the revelation of his love.
Nevertheless, also my ears and eyes are fascinated, and again and again, I return to see and to hear. Many a moment for me, it is this last pleasure which has the upper hand.
Saint Titus Brandsma
In my opinion, the question
English translation of ‘De vraag waarin’
Niagara Falls, 1935
by Maurits Sinninghe Damsté
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