ALL things naturally seek their centre, and desire their perfection and end, and therein they rest and are quieted. The stone seeks its natural centre, and therefore falls. The rivers flow towards the sea from whence they issued; and thus they move onwards with great impetus in order to reach their proper place. Fire mounts up rapidly to its own sphere, and does not cease to do so until it attains its ultimate end, O Creator of our souls! what art Thou but their centre and end? Thou hast created us for the purposes of Thy love, and our heart is restless until it attain to Thee.

As the stone is inclined to fall to the centre, so my soul desires the Summum Bonum which Thou art, my God; and as the stone, forced out of its centre, when the impediment which obstructed it is removed immediately falls down, so my soul is never quiet nor hushed to rest until it attain to Thee. My soul finds no rest in riches, nor in honours, nor in pleasures, but only in Thee, my God, the true rest and repose of my heart.

This was what the Wise Man reflected when he said: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity"[Eccles. i. 2.]. Vain is everything which does not fill up some place; and vain therefore are all those earthly things, since they do not supply the capacities of the soul, nor satisfy its longings, nor are they of a character to gratify its desires.

If, then, all things naturally proceed towards their end, and Thou, O Lord, art the end of man, and the most perfect of all things, it is right that we should make progress toward Thee, with greater impetus and speed than that with which other things in nature move towards their centre and to their own individual ends. And whereas the feet upon which my soul draws nigh to Thee are its affections, it is necessary that I should love Thee, my God, in order to attain to my centre.

Thou callest us to this repose and peace, O Lord, when Thou sayest in Thy holy gospel, "Come to Me, all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you".[Matt. xi. 28.] Ye go on your way restless and disquieted, serving the world and your own passions: come unto Me, and ye will then be in your proper sphere, enjoying quiet and repose.

Break away, then, my soul, more truly from the world, and abandoning its heavy burdens, return to thy rest: for it is very clear, if thou wilt only open thine eyes, that the power of love will lift thee up to thy Lord as to thy proper centre. Thou art very sensible that thou hast no rest outside of Him; wherefore when thou art with Him, then thou shalt be at rest, and shalt say with the prophet: "In peace in the self-same I will sleep and I will rest"[Ps. iv. 9.]; and if thou wilt appeal to the experience which thou hast had it will tell thee that thy love can find no rest but in God, for all other things project thee out of themselves and send thee to thy centre.

Seest thou not clearly that if thou lovest anything outside of God, in such love there is great disquietude and bitterness and deadly anguish? Oh how insipid, how bitter, and how full of anguish is every creature if it be loved for itself! What tragedies and what mournful and lamentable occurrences do foolish lovers relate to us on this subject if we desire to question them! They would never come to an end in telling them nor we in listening to them.

Every creature casts thee away from itself with ignominy and insults thee in order that by detaching thyself from it thou mightest succeed in drawing near to thy Creator, as if contumeliously [i.e., abrasively - Ed] addressing thee it said to thee: "Why dost thou draw near to me, thou wretched being? Why dost thou desire me, thou miserable soul? I am not the good thing that thou seekest, seeing that thou desirest to love."

Look whither thou art going, go forward and do not quit the true and royal road that leads thee to thy God; while thou, although possessing all this, being still blind, foolish and infatuated, art not taking any heed to thyself, except to embrace that which doth not desire thee, that which continually drives thee out from itself, and thou succeedest under a storm of reproaches in detaining it against its will, and pursuest that which flies from thee and which, after all, is only given thee for mere service. And though thou desire it not, thou dost set it up in a kind of sovereignty over thee, so great is thy folly and vanity.

Moreover, those embraces will not last long for thee, for they will soon be converted into bitterness, and thou wilt very speedily be satiated, and will detest — that which thou hast sought after with such eager desire and such pains; and thou wilt forthwith seek after something else: and thus thou wilt go on in misery, no created thing being able to satisfy thee entirely[note 1], as it is written, "the head of them compassing me about"[Ps. cxxxix. 10; Vulg.], and in another place he says, "The wicked walk round about"[Ps. xii. 9; Vulg.].

Wherefore return to God as to thy true centre; and let not the vanities of the world or the filth of the earth be the means of hindering thee. A large rock removed from its place and falling from a height is a frightful thing to behold, seeing with what impetus it descends, and with what a clatter it rushes downwards, and with what rapidity and velocity it hastens to reach the place which is suitable for it, and where it can be at rest; while all those things which put themselves in its way it crushes and breaks and destroys, in order that it may finally reach the place whither it is to go.

Thus, my soul, oughtest thou to give thyself to thy God and Creator, in order that thy shame and confusion may not be small when thou shalt see thyself outdone by a stone which runs to its centre with greater impetus than thou goest to thine. Lay aside, then, fling away[note 2] and destroy all that sets itself in thy way and obstructs thee from going to thy God, Break through it and pass on, as it is written, "and through my God I shall go over a wall"[Ps. xvii. 30.].

Therefore, as thou art obstructed and hindered by some light wind of pride or envy, or by the impediment of a covetous desire for some worldly thing, whatever it may be, it is easy to understand of what little weight thou art and how like those light straws which, on account of their trifling weight, the wind arrests in its descent, and then whirls them in the air. But as for the rocks which fall, who can hold them? Who can stop them? In the same way, neither more nor less, the whole world can neither hinder the virtuous nor separate them from their God.

Behold S. Paul, an apostolical rock, and one of great weight, with what impetus he hastened towards his God, whom nothing could hinder from drawing near to his centre. "Who shall separate us," he says, "from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or persecution, or the sword? I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord"[Rom. viii. 35, 38, 39.]. O great, excellent, admirable weight of so holy a soul as that of this divine apostle! O most potent rock which by its weight and greatness destroyed and swept away all impediments in order that they might not hinder him from flying anywhere that he desired to go! Through distresses and through many troubles, through hunger and thirst, through heat and cold, through swords, through evil reports and through everything fearful and terrible, with the greatest alacrity he hastened onward towards his Centre, Whose will he had in some degree converted into a part of his own nature.

The rock by its natural impulse falls to its centre, but the soul does not do so, but by a voluntary and free impulse. This power, then, which God hath allowed thee, renounce, O my soul, and turn this liberty into nature, in order that thou mayst with all thy ability and all thy strength attain to the end whither thou art going. This is that which God commandeth thee, when He saith that thou must love Him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy power, and with all thy strength. Thou must understand that thou art to love Him according to the utmost of thy ability as thy natural instinct.

1. Literally, "to the circumference"; a phrase in correspondence with the allusions to the "centre" throughout this Meditation. [back]

2. "Derruecar," applied to a horse which throws its rider. [back]