To the Same
A sincere love has no need of lengthy letters, or of many words. Bernard has been in a state of health almost despaired of, but is now recovering.
1. I have sent you a short letter in reply to a short one from you. You have given me an example of brevity, and I willingly follow it. And truly what need have true and lasting friendship, as you truly say, of exchanging empty and fugitive words? However great be the variety of quotations and verses, and the multiplicity of the phrases by which you have endeavoured to display or to prove your friendship for me, I feel more certain of your affection than I do that you have succeeded in expressing it, and you will not be wrong if you think the same in respect to me. When your letter came into my hands you were present in my heart, and I am quite convinced that it will be the same for me when you receive my letter, and that when you read it I shall not be absent. It is a labour for each of us to scribble to the other, and for our messengers a fatigue to carry our letters from the one to the other, but the heart feels neither labour nor fatigue in loving. Let those things cease, then, which without labour cannot be carried on, and let us practise only that which, the more earnestly it is done, seems to cost the less labour. Let our minds, I say, rest from dictating, our lips from conversing, our fingers from writing, our messengers from running to and fro. But let not our hearts rest from meditating day and night on the law of the Lord, which is the law of love. The more we cease to be occupied in doing this the less quiet shall we enjoy, and the more engrossed we are in it, so much the more calm and repose we shall feel from it. Let us love and be loved, striving to benefit ourselves in the other, and the other in ourselves. For those whom we love, on those do we rely, as those who love us rely in turn on us. Thus to love in God is to love charity, and therefore it is to labour for charity, to strive to be loved for the sake of God.
2. But what am I doing? I promised brevity, and I am sliding into prolixity. If you desire news of Brother Guerric, or rather since you do so, he so runs not as uncertainly, so fights not as one that beateth the air. But since he knows that salvation depends not on him who fights, nor on him who runs, but on God, who shows mercy, he begs that he may have the help of your prayers for him, so that He who has already granted to him both to fight and to run, may grant also to overcome and to attain. Salute for me with my heart and by your mouth your abbot, who is most dear to me, not only on your account, but also because of his high character. It will be most agreeable to me to see him at the time and place which you have promised. I do not wish to leave you ignorant that the hand of God has for a little while been laid heavily upon me. It seemed that I had been stricken to the fall, that the axe had been laid to the root of the barren tree of my body, and I feared that I might be instantly cut down; but lo! by your prayers and those of my other friends, the good Lord has spared me this time also, yet in the hope that I shall bear good fruits in the future.