Spirituality for Today – Winter 2019/2020 – Volume 24, Issue 2

Stanzas of the Soul That Suffers With Longing to See God

I live, but not in myself,
and I have such hope
that I die because I do not die.

  1. I no longer live within myself
    and I cannot live without God,
    for having neither him nor myself
    what will life be?
    It will be a thousand deaths,
    longing for my true life
    and dying because I do not die.
  2. This life that I live
    is no life at all,
    and so I die continually
    until I live with you;
    hear me, my God:
    I do not desire this life,
    I am dying because I do not die.
  3. When I am away from you
    what life can I have
    except to endure
    the bitterest death known?
    I pity myself,
    for I go on and on living,
    dying because I do not die.
  4. A fish that leaves the water
    has this relief:
    the dying it endures
    ends at last in death.
    What death can equal my pitiable life?
    For the longer I live, the more drawn out is my dying.
  5. When I try to find relief
    seeing you in the Sacrament,
    I find this greater sorrow:
    I cannot enjoy you wholly.
    All things are affliction
    since I do not see you as I desire,
    and I die because I do not die.
  6. And if I rejoice, Lord,
    in the hope of seeing you,
    yet seeing I can lose you
    doubles my sorrow.
    Living in such fear
    and hoping as I hope,
    I die because I do not die.
  7. Lift me from this death,
    my God, and give me life;
    do not hold me bound
    with these bonds so strong;
    see how I long to see you;
    my wretchedness is so complete
    that I die because I do not die.
  8. I will cry out for death
    and mourn my living
    while I am held here
    for my sins.
    O my God, when will it be
    that I can truly say:
    now I live because I do not die?

The Works of St. John of the Cross
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