Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
Let us rejoice, Beloved,The Spiritual Canticle (Redaction B), Stanza 36
and let us go forth to behold ourselves in your beauty
to the mountain and to the hill,
to where the pure water flows,
and further, deep into the thicket.
To the mountain and to the hill
That is: to the morning and essential knowledge of God, which is knowledge in the divine Word, who in his height is signified here by the mountain. That they may know the Son of God, Isaiah urges all: Come, let us ascend to the mountain of the Lord [Is 2:3]; in another passage: The mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared [Is 2:2].
“And to the hill,” that is, to the evening knowledge of God, which is God’s wisdom in his creatures, works, and wondrous decrees. The hill suggests this wisdom because it is not as high as the morning wisdom. Yet the soul asks for both the evening and the morning wisdom when she says: “To the mountain and to the hill.”
The soul in urging the Bridegroom, “Let us go forth to the mountain to behold ourselves in your beauty,” means: Transform me into the beauty of divine Wisdom and make me resemble that which is the Word, the Son of God. And in adding “to the hill,” she asks that he inform her with the beauty of this other, lesser wisdom contained in his creatures and other mysterious works. This wisdom is also the beauty of the Son of God by which the soul desires to be illumined.
The soul cannot see herself in the beauty of God unless she is transformed into the wisdom of God, in which she sees herself in possession of earthly and heavenly things. The bride wanted to come to this mountain and to this hill when she asserted: I shall go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense [Song 4:6]. The mountain of myrrh refers to the clear vision of God and the hill of incense to the knowledge of creatures, for the myrrh on the mountain is more choice than the incense on the hill.
Saint John of the Cross
The Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 36, nos. 6–8
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.
All scripture references are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America as accessed from the Bible Gateway website.