If only God can bespeak Godself in literal terms, then we humans are graced with metaphors - Nicholas of Cusa
The ontology determines the metaphor. The metaphor does not determine the ontology.
To know a fact, a tree or another human being is different from knowing God, the reality that gives reality, the life that gives life, the known that ontologically determines the knower, compelling the knower to find out about themselves and their place in the world. In this way, the struggle is the argument. Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, says that this knowledge “depends on the relationship that a man establishes between himself and the world and between his own self and his life...The fundamental experiences and decisions in this interplay...determine how a man sees the presence with him, and antecedent to him, of the One who is utterly other” (The God of Jesus Christ: Meditations on the Triune God p. 17). The knower's experience of love, their basic, personal interpretation of the human situation, determines whether they correctly interpret creation, and so whether they correctly interpret the Creator. On the one hand, we cannot have positive knowledge of the hidden God, while on the other hand, God is omnipresent and underlies all human experience, and so the question of God is an unavoidable part of human life and each time we interpret something in life we make decisions about God. Our image of God is "so profoundly interwoven with the basic decisions of human life, which limit or open up the sphere of a man’s knowledge, that mere theory is impotent here” (pp. 19-20).
Modern physics is coming to realise more and more that, as the mystics of all time have affirmed, the cosmos is an indivisible whole. A movement in any part of it has repercussions on every other part. Likewise, the quality of the life of each individual affects the whole of humanity, for good or for ill.
The quality of a particular being is realised and manifested in the acts of that being. The highest act of a human being is adoration and love of God. In commanding this to us, God is indicating, in a practical way, our greatest good. Our greatest good, for that which is realised in one, in virtue of our solidarity is communicated to all: as heat in a molecule of water, to the whole body of water.
God is our sun, the source of all being and goodness. The man of prayer seeks to render himself transparent, so that the light he receives may penetrate into the whole house, of which he is, as it were, a window or a door. His essential function is not to capture the light for himself —he would be opaque — but to let the maximum light through the aperture. His hands must never close upon it. In fact they cannot grasp and lay hold of what of God reaches him. His is a vocation to poverty.
Some refraction may be possible. The light of faith may be refracted through human words and communicated to others but at the solitary end of the spectrum there is only the silence of being. The desert fathers would say 'If our silence does not edify, our words will not either'.
St Hugh's, Charterhouse
Parkminister in Sussex.
Founded in 1084 by Saint Bruno, the Carthusian Order is one of the few completely enclosed eremitical monastic orders in the Church.
Following a rule of solitude, silence and almost perpetual prayer, Carthusians have always been relatively few in number.
Heirs to the Desert Fathers, today's contemplatives might be thought to have little of relevance to offer to their contemporaries outside the enclosure.
Instead, the contemplative life has a social focus and offers an eternal witness that puts external activity in a more balanced perspective.