In Hester Prynne the body carries and births the desire of the soul and act of the flesh. In Rev. Dimmesdale all remains buried and cancerous in the heart. Hester continues to live with her act through her child and on her chest. She is drawn inward judged by world and by herself for seven years. She offers only acts of survival and charity. She is emerging to me as one of the clearest examples of Protestant monasticism. Rev. Dimmesdale remains the model of fierce righteous preservation. He is the priest offering strange fire on the alter.
I am noticing more and more the aspect of feminine bearing.
Mother Mary bore the Messiah within her womb and pondered within her heart. Hester and Mary are structurally made with cells that monks seek to reside. Teresa of Avila is able to explore her Interior Castle.
In her opening discourse she writes,
I thought of the soul as resembling a castle, formed of a single diamond or a very transparent crystal, and containing many rooms, just as in heaven there are many mansions. If we reflect, sisters, we shall see that the soul of the just man is but a paradise, in which, God tells us, He takes His delight.
Let us imagine, as I said, that there are many rooms in this castle, of which some are above, some below, others at the side; in the centre, in the very midst of them all, is the principal chamber in which God and the soul hold their most secret intercourse.
Listen then to how St. John of the Cross in his Ascent of Mount Carmel sets out on his path of communion with God.
Wherein the soul sings of the happy chance which it had in passing through the dark night of faith, in detachment and purgation of itself, to union with the Beloved.
On a dark night, Kindled in love with yearnings — oh, happy chance! —
I went forth without being observed, My house being now at rest.
In darkness and secure, By the secret ladder, disguised — oh, happy chance! —
In darkness and in concealment, My house being now at rest.
In the happy night, In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught, Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.
There is of course much that overlaps between the two writers but the initial images are striking. Teresa understands implicitly that she carries a space to bear communion with God. John of the Cross must flee in the night to find his lover. I think these images offer great insight into reflections on gender and homelessness/homecoming.