First, Krystyna at Curious Cat poses a challenge: "I find myself searching for a word that can describe the strong flood of emotion that sometimes arrives as we stand and look at the beauty of the world around us, or listen to an outstanding piece of music.... There doesn't seem to be such a word. There are words and phrases for surges of negative feeling (like panic attack), but not for the positive surges. If anyone knows one, please let me know."
The word that came to my mind was consolation. I know, I know... it's a word that's become devalued in the way we use it now. Something quite nice, a bit cosy... But hardly the word for an indescribable experience - the equivalent of an "attack" - of ecstatic joy. We even talk about "consolation prizes" for the runners-up! For Ignatius, consolation meant something stronger: it may come in peace and quiet or a flood of feeling, but it's the experience of being "inflamed with love" so that, for that moment, everything around us becomes translucent and irradiated with the Transcendant and we see creation for what it is, held in being and suffused with the love of the Creator; our love and delight are for the Giver in and through the gifts...
I wrote a while ago about the meaning of desolation (the "sol" bit connecting with solus, alone). The "sol" in consolation comes from solare, to bring joy and delight - and of course the "con" bit means "with". We're in a right relationship with creation, aligned with the diamond point of our true self and with the "Love that moves the Sun and the other stars". And of course "sol" will remind us of Sol, the Sun. We stand in the light, the radiant dawn of God's love. We see clearly the isness of all things, our true nature as beloved children of God. We see truly.
Krystyna, maybe we don't need a word for this experience because at heart it's unnameable - and it is Real. The negative surges, the panic attacks (don't I know it!) desolation, despair, need labels to remind us that they are unReal; lies.
And then, with the most delightful synchronicity, I read this on The Mercy Blog about just such an experience, an Epiphany, a knowing that "God is at the very heart of all that is, living and true, alive— oh, so gloriously alive—and that that life is love itself" Please, please read it!
This morning I had a little glimpse of consolation as I walked around Orford Castle. A leaden sky heaped with layer upon layer of cloud, ravens cawing and the wind whistling, views right across to Orford Ness. Beautiful, and "alive with love". Bliss. And you know what? I struggled to be present and simply to savour. I was writing this blog post in my head - and missing the moment! Some real arrow prayers for the grace to be there...
Then we drove back through the Tunstall Forest where the autumn colours of trees and bracken were amazing. Under the grey sky they seemed to glow with their own fiery energy: "God at the heart, oh so gloriously alive."
Then home for hot soup.