“Garden of Desire” (Song of Solomon 4:12-5:8)
“I am faint with love” (5:8). When I gaze upon this illumination, my heart feels full. I have the strongest desire to enter into the garden and to search, as the passage says, for “him whom my soul loves”. The beauty of this image is in that invitation to enter and search. The colors are so gentle and the pattern so intricate. I feel embraced and warmed by the gated garden. “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes” (4:9). When I glance upon this image with my eyes, my heart does, indeed, feel ravished.
I feel drawn in, not only to the garden, but to the search for Wisdom. While the beauty of the image is so very moving, there is still an incompleteness to it. The garden has only two gates, it is unfinished. It is closed off. Pieces are strewn about the page in a kind of disordered fashion. “Listen! My beloved is knocking. Open to me, my sister, my love…I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and was gone” (5:2, 6). The love that is so beautiful in this illumination is also not yet perfect. That scatteredness, as Susan Sink points out, represents our disconnection from God. The pieces appear to be pieces that would all fit together, and if they could unite we would be complete and one with the Divine.
The connection to seeking out God as the one whom we most desire is simple. But, how do we as human beings begin to know and understand love? Is our first feeling of love for God? I, like many people, first came to know what love is by the unconditional love of my own parents. It is through them that I started to understand what God’s love must be like. As I grew and understood other forms of love, my awe for God’s love also grew. As my knowledge of God and God’s love for me has deepened, my own ability to love others and know what selfless love is has also developed. I love because God loved me first.
Through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, we get a glimpse of what God’s perfect love for us looks like. It is only through the awe-inspiring love of God for us that we are able to love others. As this passage and illumination show us, Wisdom is the key to unlock the garden and to find who our soul loves. Wisdom is how we seek God and it is how we are brought to communion with our God, our lover. Even more so now with the resurrected and living God among us, who has shown us unimaginable love, we know that seeking God and uniting our soul with our Divine Creator will be greater than anything we could ever know.