I have a friend who has written a remarkable blog (and is actually approaching his 4th year wih it), that has brought me much inspiration and spiritual confirmation. His blog is Teresa of Avila turns 500. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/9429716 Teresa of Avila is respected as one among the greatest writers of spiritual literature in the sixteenth century. His writing about her writing has inspired me to delve further into some of the spiritual understanding she gained on her journey with Christ.
One particular comment she made that I came across in my own research was this: “It came to me that the soul is like a castle made exclusively of diamond or some other very clear crystal. In this castle are a multitude of dwellings just as in heaven there are many mansions. If we muse on this deeply, friends, we will see that the soul of a righteous person is none other than a garden in which the Beloved takes great delight. What do you think that a place might be like that such a king- so powerful and wise, so pure and filled with all good things- would find so delightful? I myself can come up with nothing as magnificent as the beauty and amplitude of the soul.”
When she spoke about many mansions in heaven, she referred to John 14:2, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Over the years, bible teachers have indicated that Jesus, upon returning to heaven would prepare for us mansions of gold and jewel, magnificent dwellings that would rival no other. I’ve heard many people say with a glow of lust in their eyes that they cannot wait until they get to heaven and see what their mansion looks like and what it will have in it. How absolutely absurd I have always felt this to be, and so very selfish. Of course, our Father has bestowed every good gift upon us, but not so that we may greedily consume it, but rather that we may reflect on the glory of the giver of the gift.
However, as I read this text, I am seeing that the garden of God is not a plot of real estate as so many would surmise, but rather the garden where God walks with us and “dwells” with us, is our very soul. His going to prepare a place for us simply meant that He was preparing for His crucifixion and resurrection, which would redeem our souls and provide for us eternal life with the Beloved.
This understanding then takes me back to the many mansions. What does that mean exactly and how does it apply?
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines mansions as such:
MAN’SION, noun [Latin mansio, from maneo, to dwell.]
1. Any place of residence; a house; a habitation. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” John 14:2. 2. The house of the Lord of a manor. 3. Residence; above.
AND MAN’SION, verb intransitive To dwell; to reside.
I see my soul as being the house of the Lord or the place where we dwell and reside together. And in His house are many dwelling places (souls).
Teresa also said, “We have heard that we have souls, and our faith compels us to believe that is true. But we rarely consider the soul’s excellent qualities or who it is that dwells within or how precious that really is.” She goes on to explain that people become so involved in worldly matters that they are incapable of entering within themselves, so used to dealing with the worldly evils that they can find no remedy for them, even though they are naturally endowed with the ability to commune with the Beloved Himself at any time.
She fully believed, and I agree, that the doorway to that garden, where our Beloved dwells is prayer and meditation (reflection, contemplation). We have access to that place of refuge and peace, love and acceptance, wisdom and counsel in any moment of every day. We have a living God, who is waiting to walk with us in the garden and answer our every thought or need. And all we need to do is open the door….
Sources: http://webstersdictionary1828.com/ ; The Interior Castle Translation and Introduction by Mirabai Starr