Mountains of Spices

I’ve been reading in the Song of Songs, a book that in my early years seemed utterly irrelevant to the rest of Scripture, but now has taken on a strange fascination. All the overpowering and extreme imagery (neck like a tower of David, hair like a flock of goats, incense and spices, skin like the Bedouin tents of Kedar, watchmen and the city night, gardens, mountains, valleys, fountains and streams), all this phantasmagorical imagery of love now suddenly makes sense in the context of how the Holy Spirit possesses us not just spiritually but in a manner that our senses are attuned to as we are to the smell of myrrh and wine and frankincense or the aromas of the garden and the vistas of the mountains and valleys, all sensations perceivable not just with our hearts but our minds and bodies.

The earthly imagery flooding the Song is, I think, to remind us that these vast and glorious things that we enjoy here on earth are but pale imitations of the wondrous beauty of our God. And ultimately the longing it engenders is almost unbearable especially during those “dark nights of the soul” as John of the Cross wrote in his poetry. I remember getting a book of sermons by Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs, but putting it aside. Now I want to dig it up and see what he had to say. But I imagine it all boils down to this: Oh Master, let me walk with Thee!

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