One’s outer life is like a seed that must die for the soul to live fully. As Jesus said,
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24).
When this “death” of the egoic person occurs, some sorrow is natural. The soul has - until then - completely identified with its external life. The soul has sympathized with it's struggles and problems, and imagined existence to be nothing more than this.
But the demise of the outer man signifies that a vital transformative process is occurring: namely the birth – or rebirth – of the whole man. The germination of that seed represents a quickening the soul, an awakening to its essential reality. The soul turns away from an externalized, incomplete projection of itself manifested as the ego, and devotes itself to birthing the seedling of Being.
As God first breathed life into the soul, so in a sense the soul had also breathed life into the ego. The ego became the soul’s reflection into this world, the mirror through which it came to see and know itself, to differentiate between truth and falsehood, most especially through the process of “sinning.”
Sins typically produce judgment upon those who commit them by those who do not, but rarely do they result in real understanding, wisdom or compassion. It is only one’s own sins, personally committed violations of the spirit of life, which teach those things. The soul, through its instrument the heart, must - and invariably does - experience the pain of “transgression.”
In fact, it longs for this pain. It fervently desires the fullness, the wholeness, the depth as well as height, of all experiences that God has made possible. The soul is “born” a babe, innocent and naïve, yet only through sorrow’s door may it venture into the household of the King. Only after having tasted humility via a seemingly self-imposed exile from the Light of Love can it appreciate the glory of divinity.
The rags of its human apparel must be discarded at this formidable entrance. Yet it is through having borne and worn such forlorn garments that the soul has gained its power. By undergoing the journey through profound darkness, it learns to perceive the unimaginably wondrous - that it, a creature, was made in the very image of God Almighty. Thus humbled and strengthened, it prays the ultimate prayer - for union with God.
St. Teresa of Avila speaks of this state in The Interior Castle:
“True union transcends all earthly joys, exceeds all earthly delights, surpasses all earthly satisfactions. You can tell from experience that this joy has a very different source of origin. The difference is like feeling something with the skin of your body or the marrow of your bones. I think that hits the nail on the head. I don’t think I could say it any better than that.”
As the holy Light dawns, it is felt as much as seen, for the soul’s powers of knowing are of a different order from those of the ego, of the conceptual man. They radiate throughout the body and convert the entire organism into a unified instrument for communicating with the divine.
Like an ant, which from outdoors on a blade of grass detects a grain of sugar dropped upon the kitchen counter, the soul distinctly perceives the infinitely subtle “sweetness of God.”
Seeking this sanctified sweetness, the soul moves unflinchingly past its personal sorrows toward the eternal nourishment, using every faculty at its disposal. Thus, even the skin and the marrow of the bones become required participants in the mystery of communion and union with the divine.
And the incarnation of God into human form occurs once again . . .
. . . this time in us.