Stanza xxix

If then on the common land
I am no longer seen or found,
You will say that I am lost;
That, being enamoured,
I lost myself; and yet was found.

THE soul replies here to a tacit reproach. Worldly people are in
the habit of censuring those who give themselves up in earnest to
God, regarding them as extravagant, in their withdrawal from the
world, and in their manner of life. They say also of them that
they are useless for all matters of importance, and lost to
everything the world prizes and respects! This reproach the soul
meets in the best way; boldly and courageously despising it with
everything else that the world can lay to its charge. Having
attained to a living love of God, it makes little account of all
this; and that is not all: it confesses it itself in this stanza,
and boasts that it has committed that folly, and that it is lost
to the world and to itself for the Beloved.

2. That which the soul is saying here, addressing itself to the
world, is in substance this: ‘If you see me no longer occupied
with the subjects that engrossed me once, with the other pastimes
of the world, say and believe that I am lost to them, and a
stranger to them, yea, that I am lost of my own choice, seeking my
Beloved whom I so greatly love.’ But that they may see that the
soul’s loss is gain, and not consider it folly and delusion, it
adds that its loss was gain, and that it therefore lost itself

‘If then on the common I am no longer seen or found.’

3. The common is a public place where people assemble for
recreation, and where shepherds feed their flocks. By the common
here is meant the world in general, where men amuse themselves and
feed the herd of their desires. The soul says to the worldly-
minded: ‘If you see me no more where I used to be before I gave
myself up wholly to God, look upon me as lost, and say so’: the
soul rejoices in that and would have men so speak of it.

‘Say that I am lost.’

4. He who loves is not ashamed before men of what he does for God,
neither does he hide it through shame though the whole world
should condemn it. He who shall be ashamed to confess the Son of
God before men, neglecting to do His work, the Son of God also
will be ashamed to acknowledge him before His Father. ‘He that
shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father
Who is in heaven.’ [236] The soul, therefore, in the courage of
its love, glories in what ministers to the honour of the Beloved,
in that it has done anything for Him and is lost to the things of
the world.

5. But few spiritual persons arrive at this perfect courage and
resolution in their conduct. For though some attempt to practise
it, and some even think themselves proficient therein, they never
entirely lose themselves on certain points connected with the
world or self, so as to be perfectly detached for the sake of
Christ, despising appearances and the opinion of the world. These
can never answer, ‘Say that I am lost,’ because they are not lost
to themselves, and are still ashamed to confess Christ before men
through human respect; these do not therefore really live in

‘That being enamoured,’

That is, practising virtues for the love of God,

‘I lost myself; and yet was found.’

6. The soul remembers well the words of the Bridegroom in the
Gospel: ‘No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the
one and love the other,’ [237] and therefore, in order not to lose
God, loses all that is not God, that is, all created things, even
itself, being lost to all things for the love of Him. He who truly
loves makes shipwreck of himself in all else that he may gain the
more in the object of his love. Thus the soul says that it has
lost itself–that is, deliberately, of set purpose.

7. This loss occurs in two ways. The soul loses itself, making no
account whatever of itself, but of the Beloved, resigning itself
freely into His hands without any selfish views, losing itself
deliberately, and seeking nothing for itself. Secondly, it loses
itself in all things, making no account of anything save that
which concerns the Beloved. This is to lose oneself–that is, to
be willing that others should have all things. Such is he that
loves God; he seeks neither gain nor reward, but only to lose all,
even himself, according to God’s will; this is what such an one
counts gain. This is real gain, for the Apostle saith, ‘to die is
gain’ [238]–that is, to die for Christ is my gain and profit
spiritually. This is why the soul says that it ‘was found’; for he
who knows not how to lose, finds not, but rather loses himself, as
our Saviour teaches us in the Gospel, saying, ‘He that will save
his life shall lose it; and he that shall lose his life for My
sake shall find it.’ [239]

8. But if we wish to know the deeper spiritual meaning of this
line, and its peculiar fitness here, it is as follows: When a soul
has advanced so far on the spiritual road as to be lost to all the
natural methods of communing with God; when it seeks Him no longer
by meditation, images, impressions, nor by any other created ways,
or representations of sense, but only by rising above them all, in
the joyful communion with Him by faith and love, then it may be
said to have found God of a truth, because it has truly lost
itself as to all that is not God, and also as to its own self.


THE soul being thus gained, all its works are gain, for all its
powers are exerted in the spiritual intercourse of most sweet
interior love with the Beloved. The interior communications
between God and the soul are now so delicious, so full of
sweetness, that no mortal tongue can describe them, nor human
understanding comprehend them. As a bride on the day of her
betrothal attends to nothing but to the joyous festival of her
love, and brings forth all her jewels and ornaments for the
pleasure of the bridegroom, and as he too in the same way exhibits
his own magnificence and riches for the pleasure of his bride, so
is it in the spiritual betrothal where the soul feels that which
the bride says in the Canticle, ‘I to my Beloved and my Beloved to
me.’ [240] The virtues and graces of the bride-soul, the grandeur
and magnificence of the Bridegroom, the Son of God, come forth
into the light, for the celebration of the bridal feast,
communicating each to the other the goods and joys with the wine
of sweet love in the Holy Ghost. The present stanza, addressed to
the Bridegroom by the soul, has this for its subject.