To seek God for his own sake alone, this is to possess two cheeks made most beautiful by the two elements of intention.
This is the bride’s own special gift, the source of that unique prerogative by which she may be told with all propriety: “Your cheeks are beautiful as the turtle dove’s.”
But why as the turtle dove’s? This is a chaste little bird that leads a retired life, content to live with one mate; if it loses this mate it does not seek another but lives alone thenceforward.
[...] You who are moved by the urgings of the Holy Spirit and long to perform all that is required of one who would be the bride of God should strive to ensure that both elements of your intention are like two beautiful cheeks.
Then, in imitation of that most chaste of birds, and following the advice of the Prophet, abide in solitude because you have raised yourself above yourself.
You are well above yourself when espoused to the Lord of angels; surely you are above yourself when joined to the Lord and become one spirit with him?
Live alone therefore like the turtle dove. Avoid the crowds, avoid the places where men assemble; forget even your people and your father’s house and the king will desire your beauty.
Holy soul, remain alone, so that you might keep yourself for him alone whom you have chosen for yourself out of all that exist.
Avoid going abroad, avoid even the members of your household; withdraw from friends and those you love, not excepting the man who provides for your needs.
Can you not see how shy your Love is, that he will never come to you when others are present?
Therefore you must withdraw, mentally rather than physically, in your intention, in your devotion, in your spirit.
For Christ the Lord is a spirit before your face, and he demands solitude of the spirit more than of the body, although physical withdrawal can be of benefit when the opportunity offers, especially in time of prayer.
To do this is to follow the advice and example of the Bridegroom, that when you want to pray you should go into your room, shut the door and then pray.
And what he said he did. He spent nights alone in prayer, not merely hiding from the crowds but even from his disciples and familiar friends.
He did indeed take three of his friends with him when the hour of his death was approaching; but the urge to pray drew him apart even from them.
You too must act like this when you wish to pray.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): Sermons on the Song of Songs, 40, 4.