From his book: Your Life is Mine, chapter 2: The Enigma of I am
Sophrony builds this chapter around the full revelation and manifestation of the nature of God in the statement I AM THAT I AM (Ex 3.13-14).
Theology is not sufficient to elucidate its meaning, he tells us. Knowledge must be “generated by prayer inspired from above,” and descend to us through love.
Instead of relying on complicated definitions, Sophrony dives into experience. Marveling at the impossibility of describing the state of the spirit of someone to whom God has been manifested in the fullness of I AM, Sophrony attempts to convey the meaning of this manifestation in terms of an intimate connection with Him.
His closeness to one’s heart is so tangible that joy in him is light. He is kind and gentle, and I can speak to him intimately, face to Face, address him — “thou who art.”
This is the state we must achieve as preparation for “the spirit’s entry into living Eternity compact of love.”
Spiritual knowledge, Sophrony tells us, is not achieved in one fell swoop. Unlike historical facts that can be absorbed in just one reading, the revelation of God’s true nature is gradual and progressive through periods of history and phases in a person’s life.
Even the revelation of God to Moses was not complete. Sophrony argues that Moses and the prophets did not fully appreciate “the full blessing bestowed on them.” That is, they didn’t understand that “I AM is one being and at the same time Three persons.”
The paradox he uncovers is that to understand God as unified One, we must understand the 3 hypostases of the Trinity.
Without the Trinity, God is solitary. No cooperation would be needed for Him to be manifested. The movement from God to man would be one-dimensional. The Trinity, on the other hand, enables man to participate rather than simply receive, by allowing him to strive to acquire God’s image and likeness.
On occasions, he would even speak of Himself as Three: “and God said Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”(Gen. 1.26). “Behold, man is become as one of us (Ex. 3.22)
To experience the “Triune Godhead” is to experience love fully, with every inch of your soul and body.
The man who by the gift of the Holy Spirit has experienced the breath of his love knows with his whole being that such love is peculiar to the Triune Godhead revealed to us as the perfect mode of Absolute Being.
This is because the Trinity is not an exclusive, solipsistic club. On the contrary, the manifestation of the Trinity is a manifestation of connectedness and unity between man and God, among the three hypostases and among men.
With the Trinity, the world around us is transformed through love into absolute oneness, transcending divisions between human and divine, spiritual and material.
Love leads to singleness of Being.
We see God’s presence in all things, no matter how small and insignificant.
His consciousness penetrates all that exists. We have to find it in all that we know and see.
Yet, “conversely all things are manifest to him… Every moment of our life, our every heartbeat, is in his hands.”
Hence, when God is revealed and manifested in us, we are no longer exiles in a strange land but active participants in God’s world and its meaning.
The enigma of I AM is solved, not through history or theology, but in our personal, mystical relationship with Him.
Knowledge of the Personal God bears an intrinsically personal character. Like recognizes like. There is an end to the deadly tedium of the impersonal…
He fills the soul, binding it her ever more intimately to himself.
In the end, the manifestation of I AM is experienced through a transformed soul and heart, rather than through words. It is the Trinity abiding in us that will give us true knowledge of God and experience of unity.
Contemplation is a matter not of verbal statements but of living experience. In pure prayer the Father, Son and Spirit are seen in their consubstantial unity.
2 thoughts on “Speaking to Him Intimately: St. Sophrony”
Thank you. An uncannily timely post for me. Trying to understand the God / Yahweh, the infinite, might be the wrong way, maybe it is through a bigger wordless experiencing, a kind of firm imaginal intuitional sense. Yes, I was once told “I am Yahweh, and I am Yourway.” Maybe we do get entangled in our attempts to understand.
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Thank you for your kind comments.