“When that which is loved is at hand, love thrives; when absent it languishes. This is simply that weariness of impatient desire by which the mind of the ardent lover is necessarily afflicted when the loved one is absent; wholly absorbed in expectation, she reckons even any haste to be slow. And therefore she asks for an assortment of the fruits of good works made fragrant by faith in which she may rest while the bridegroom tarries.” Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon 51.II.3, On the Song of Songs III, trans. Kilian Walsh (Kalamazoo: Cistercian, 1979), p. 42. [Emphasis added]
Here Bernard commented on Songs of Songs 2:5, “Prop me up with flowers, encompass me with apples, because I languish with love.” Here we see again how medieval preachers and theologians used romantic rhetoric to explain the soul’s relationship to the divine. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it also may cause great emotional suffering.