In my reading this morning from John of the Cross, I can’t help but be taken aback by his strict denunciation of all human appetites. For John, the appetites necessarily detract from our pursuit of God, and so God works within us to pure us of such to prepare us for union with God’s own spirit.
I can’t help reading his argument without saying, “Yeah, but…” in almost every sentence. And surely some of those “yeah, buts” need to be pursued, BUT I also think they come out of my own resistance to a word of truth about my own distorted appetites, and the way they tend to resist the Lord’s calling for my life. John writing of the different ways the appetites impair our spiritual lives, write this in The Ascent of Mount Carmel (1.6.6):
It is plain that the appetites are wearisome and tiring. They resemble little children, restless and hard to please, always whining to their mother for this thing or that, and never satisfied. Just as anyone who digs covetously for a treasure grows tired and exhausted, so does anyone who strives to satisfy the appetites’ demands become wearied and fatigued. And even if a soul does finally fill them, it is still always weary because it is never satisfied. For, after all, one digs leaking cisterns that cannot contain the water that slakes thirst. As Isaiah says: He is faint with thirst and his soul is empty [Is 29:8]
Reflecting on this, I have to put away my resistance. I am convicted.