Spirituality. Mirella Muià and Empedocles as a symbol for those who seek God

Mirella Muià

Mirella Muià – archive

A desire for a life hidden in the sight of God; a poignant feeling of compassion and sharing for those who, lost, seek a reference in the harsh and often desperate hairpin bends of human existence. IS the classic dilemma that every contemplative, lover of silence, has to face: give preference to one or the other? The monk, the ascetic, the hermit, the cloistered … Hidden from the world, by vocation called to immerse themselves in the fire of God’s love, but often, precisely for this reason, a pole of attraction for many people ready to walk towards where, in the night, some light shines, not only for spiritual research, but also for simple curiosity, for hiking, for the taste of sensationalism or prêt à porter mysticism. This is the multifaceted theme in which it is immersed and from which it starts Empedocles, narrative poem that mother Mirella Muià published in France in 1997 for Alidades and which has now been translated in Italy for the types of Lyriks (pages 33, euro 8).

Mother Mirella is today hermit in the Eremo dell’Unità in Gerace, in Locride, but for years she taught German and Italian in French high schools, for 12 years she was a researcher of Italian literature at the Sorbonne and then a lecturer of French at the University of Calabria. Returning to the faith in 1987, after 25 years “of total agnosticism”, she has since reread every previous cultural experience in the light of the Scriptures, reconverting her love for literature and philosophical investigation and has started on a intense road of faith-culture comparisonwith a double predilection for his Jewish origins and the dialogue between the Eastern and Western Churches. In this context, the figure of the pre-Socratic Empedocles is taken as a symbol of the encounter between cultures and between the spiritual and philosophical reading of life. Also because it is very modern, capable of speaking to the bewilderments of our time in the same ways that it enjoyed fame in his time. Certainly not, therefore, for his cosmogonic idea of ​​the eternal evolution of the four elements (earth, air, fire, water), but for the style of welcoming the poor and criticizing the powerful to the point that in doing politics in his Agrigento sided against oligarchy and tyranny. But also for ascetic choices, mystical research, vegetarianism, respect for animals and for all forms of life. All this would have made him a reference for many (and probably would be today), but also the object of ostracism that forced him into exile in the Peloponnese.

The conditional is a must due to the fact that the few historical-biographical data on Empedocles have come down to us together with legendary tales on his figure, drawn up in the following decades and centuries, which make him a sort of prophet, magician, wise thaumaturge. Suffice it to consider that a century later Aristotle claimed that he had died at 60 around 430 BC But already Apollonius would have lengthened his life to 105 years. Thesis reaffirmed by the historian Diogenes Laertius. In a context of this kind, it is not surprising that myths have been built around his death, such as the one that imagines him loved by the gods to the point of being taken up into heaven. The most accredited version in ancient times, on the other hand, describes him convinced that of the four elements the fire was a direct divine emanation and that therefore he wanted to unite with it by throwing himself into Etna and that the volcano, welcoming it, wanted to leave a prophetic sign to posterity and mysterious one of his sandals reappeared on the edge of the craterwhere the philosopher’s followers would have found him.

This second version of the legend inspires the poem by Mirella Muià, which makes fire a symbol of the inextinguishable divine love for man and Empedocles a seeker of God hopelessly in love with that love. In love as is a hermit who chooses to isolate herself from the world to spiritually join the fire of Mercy that Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque sees burning from the heart of Christ, who understands everything and who only satisfies her desire to feel loved and love again. Empedocles, therefore, does not throw himself into the volcano, he is not a suicide fleeing the misunderstandings of life, but he sets out on a path of silent and shy immersion in the fire of that love: he leaves behind the vanity of the world to meet, in any case in the world, the fullness of meaning. Thus, whoever takes him as a teacher and climbs a sincere pilgrimage on his own paths, discovers in turn love and inner depth. Then there are those who are looking out of curiosity, to engage social media, for pleasure: even these people are addressed by the divine fire, reflected through Empedocle-eremita, because that love is for everyone. In the same way as the sign of the sandal left on the edge of the volcano, the threshold of the supreme encounter, is for everyone: if in the sight of God even the essential is useless, the abandonment of the vain and the superfluous becomes a necessity … or a discrimination.

Spirituality. Mirella Muià and Empedocles as a symbol for those who seek God