Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Consuming Fire

"And the glory you have given me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them, and you in me, that have made you known to them, that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them." Jesus

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me." St. Paul

"Many waters cannot quench love, it is the very fire of the Lord." Song of Songs

Love is a consuming fire. This I know as certainly as I know my own name. When the flame of reckless passion is kindled I will give all I have, I will throw all that I am into the heart and hands of my beloved to keep our joyful bonfires burning furiously and brightly. I am lost in her; I no longer live except in her only, and she in me. In a mystery our hearts have been ravaged by some eternal and magnificent power that has moved the boundaries of our very souls and we are now a singularity, embodied one in another, they may be perfected in union, that the world may know that you sent me and loved them, even as you have loved me .... and I somehow we are one another; without her I know am nothing, I cannot exist apart from her. It is only in falling headlong into the mysterious abyss of love that we know the absolute peace of union with another and absolute fear of abandonment. It is only in love that we know the acute joy of completion and the torment of the hopelessness of fulfilling this true and complete union of spirits and hearts in this flesh. It is easy to find the Spirit in the bright joys of love yet it is in the torments of love when we are lost in its darkness that we find the true inextinguishable light that breaks from some unknown and joyful place in the deep waters of the abyss. That light is the fire of Love, the presence of God, that the many dark and deep waters of our sorrows could not quench. It is here finally, when we are truly lost in love that the dawn begins to break on the dark night of the soul and we find ourselves.

The lost and found of love is in passion and romance. Passion has been called untrue, unreal. Romance is called a short-lived fiction, infatuation a temporary insanity. It has been named pathological to feel so intertwined, to lose the boundaries of self and the ego so completely that we feel our very selves in one another, that we truly live and die in the heart and soul of one another. Yet it is this very pathology that poets extol, it is this insanity that the human heart longs for in the dark nights spent grieving the absence of the beloved. It is this loss that is gladly sought and embraced for the sake of gaining the sense of lostness in another that somehow fills and completes who I am. It seems this psychopathology is the best and truest of theologies because this is what Jesus and the apostle tell us the Christ is about. God is love. He is this fierce and consuming passion, and we are created in His image. To be one with our beloved, to find our soul's true companion, to lose all we possess and are for the sake of one moment of union that breaks into eternity within our hearts: This is the holy place within us all where God still dwells and calls us to Himself.

As it is with all holy places, it is a great risk to enter it and stand in the presence of the one who inhabits it. There, if we risk entering, we might be killed or we might be blessed beyond comprehension. It is most certainly a greater risk to enter the innermost court of love than to hazard mere physical death. To love is itself The Absolute Risk. Love is never a rehearsed trapeze act, a calculated stunt; there is no circus bravado, there is no net. The risk of the utter destruction of our hearts and perhaps our lives because of love is the most fearful of all things human and divine. It is fearful because love is the giving our very selves, the entrusting of all we are to another, laying ourselves open, naked, unguarded, without apology, without our peculiar armors, and trusting our beloved will welcome us in, that we will be one, that we will not be rejected. It is the most terrible and reckless risk both God and human beings can take, it was the very risk the Immanuel took. Behold the Incarnation of Love. "He came to His own and His own rejected him," Saint John says. The Eternal Lover himself is not exempt from the reckless foolishness of a Quixotic love affair and the risk of the devastation of His heart because of His passionate pursuit of His beloved who spurned His romancing, wWhich is the oldest and best romance ever told, the story that God himself has deemed holy: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl and….

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