"In the winter of 1968, I lived in a cave in the mountains of the Zaragosa Desert in Spain. For seven months I saw no one, never heard the sound of a human voice. Hewn out of the face of the mountain, the cave towered six thousand feet above sea level. Each Sunday morning a brother from the village of Farlete below dropped off food, drinking water, and kerosene at a designated spot. Within the cave a stone partition divided the chapel on the right from the living quarters on the left. A stone slab covered with potato sacks served as a bed. The other furniture was a rugged granite desk, a wooden chair, a Sterno stove, and a kerosene lamp. On the wall of the chapel hung a three—foot cruciﬁx. I awoke each morning at 2:00 and went into the chapel for an hour of nocturnal adoration.
On the night of December 13, during what began as a long and lonely hour of prayer, I heard in faith Jesus Christ say, ”For love of you I left my Father's side. I came to you who ran from me, ﬂed me, who did not want to hear my name. For love of you I was covered with spit, punched, beaten, and affixed to the wood of the cross."
These words are burned on my life. Whether I am in a state of grace or disgrace, elation or depression, that night of ﬁre quietly burns on.
"I looked at the cruciﬁx for a long time, ﬁguratively saw the blood streaming from every pore of his body, and heard the cry of his wounds: "This isn't a joke. It is not a laughing matter to me that I have loved you." The longer I looked, the more I realized that no man has ever loved me and no one ever could love me as he did. I went out of the cave, stood on the precipice, and shouted into the darkness, "Jesus, are you crazy? Are you out of your mind to have loved me so much?”
I learned that night what a wise old man had told me years earlier: "Only the one who has experienced it can know what the love of Jesus Christ is. Once you have experienced it, nothing else in the world will seem more beautiful or desirable. "
(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)