The Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza is where I spend these rainy days of May. Between thunderstorms and gentle spring mists I make my way here in soggy shoes and a windbreaker that serves as a raincoat and cover for my books.
It is on a computer at the library that these very words were crafted. Visitors use electronic cards to reserve space in trough-like wooden divides – mangers of information — where cheap but fast Dell computers are put out like slop for pigs. We are granted just 30 minutes to gobble down as much information on line as possible before more pigs come along and reserve space at the computers. Like cavemen we paint these walls of silicon that stretch into infinity.
Look around! There are more books here than computers. Never will Google rival what searches reveal here on the second floor of the library where tens of thousands of manuscripts on history and religion line the walls.
An entire bookcase, six stories high with literature relating to Christian Mysticism exists in row ten—far from the lines of those who sin with Twitter.
I have shaken the very dust from the books in row ten. These treasures appear to have rarely been touched—virgins of sorts in this age of information.
It is easy to determine which mystics were the best writers. Well worn pages and covers that are coffee stained stick out like sore thumbs.
Saint Teresa of Avila—Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint John of the Cross—a trinity in their own right!
“The Cloud of Unknowing” a tiny little book I read three times in three days, written by an anonymous author long before handles were in.
The most intriguing work I found yet—A few words – The Sayings of the Desert Fathers:
“Abbot Lot came to Abbot Joseph and said: ‘Father, to the limit of my ability, I keep my little rule, my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and to the limit of my ability, I work to cleanse my heart of thoughts, what more should I do?’
The elder rose up in reply, and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: ‘Why not be utterly changed into fire?’”
The miracle of the Brooklyn Public Library is that these books are not downstairs in the fiction rooms.
By reading so many books on the subject of Christian Mysticism in such a short period of time, I discovered one simple truth through all that exists in these books of the saints:-
Love is the very element of time and the Mystic, a split-atom infused with eternity.