Two Kinds of Water

The Book of Godly Encouragement, II

No barrel can hold two kinds of liquid at the same time. If it is to hold wine we must empty it first of its water.

In the same way, if the joy of heavenly things is to fill us, we need to empty ourselves first of worldly pleasure. We have to pour it out and cast it away. Like Augustine says, “Empty yourselves so you may be filled! Learn to hate so you may love! Turn away, so you may turn toward what is good.”

If our joy in God is to be complete we must let go, completely, of earthly things. That includes every object that might bring us comfort or stability in an earthly way. Then, when we have turned completely to God and trust only in him, he fills us with unspeakably great joy.

If we find comfort in anything other than God it is sure to fail and bring us misery—we have nothing stable in this life, nor in the next. But if we find our comfort in God may be satisfied, both here and there.

If we could truly empty a vessel, taking even the air out of it, we would see it lose its original nature. It would float upward, free of everything that holds it down. In the same way, if we could be emptied of all things earthly, truly poor and bereft of earthly desire, we would find our souls floating up to God.

Heinrich Seuse, ca. 1295-1366, Schwaben, Germany

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