— Johannes Tauler German theologian 1300 - 1361
Sermons, Sermon 3
Context: The second stage is like this: When God has drawn a person so far away from all things, and he is no longer a child and he has been strengthened with the comfort of sweetness. Then indeed one gives him coarse rye bread. He has become a man and has reached maturity. Solid, strong food is what is good and useful for a grown man. He Here a person becomes so divinized that everything he is and does, God does and is in him shouldn't be given milk and soft bread any longer, and such is withheld from him. He is then led on a terribly wild path, very gloomy and forsaken. And on this path God takes back from him everything that he had ever given him. Then and there the person is left so completely to himself that he loses all notion of God and gets into such a distressful state that he cannot remember whether things had ever gone right for him, so as not to know any more if he were ever on the right path, whether he has a God or not, nor does he know if God does or does not exist, or if he is alive or dead and whether he is the same person; and he suffers such incredible pain that this whole wide world is too confining for him. A very strange sorrow comes over him that makes him think that the whole world in its expanse oppresses him. He neither has any feeling for nor knowledge of God, and he has no liking for any other things and even all the rest seems repugnant to him, so that it seems that he is a prisoners between two walls. It seems to him that he is suspended between two walls with a sword in back of him and a sharp spear in front. What does he do then? He can go neither forward nor back. He can only sit down and say, "Hail, bitterer bitterness, full of grace!" If there could be hell in this life, this would seem to be more than hell - to be bereft of loving and the good thing loved. Anything that one might say to such a person would console him about as much as a stone. And he could stand even less hearing about He is lifted up so far above his natural state that he becomes through Grace what God in his essence is by nature. In this state a person feels and is aware that he has lost himself and does not at all feel himself or is he aware of himself. He is aware of nothing but one simple Being creatures. The more the sense of and feel for God stood formerly in the foreground, the greater and more unendurable are the bitterness and misery of this abandonment.