Saturday, July 05, 2008

Life, Death and Love

"Every willful desire for death is directed toward peace, not toward nonexistence. Although a man erroneously believes that he will not exist after death, nevertheless by nature, he desires to be at peace; that is, he desires to be in a higher degree." St. Augustine on the psychology of suicide. Thanks to Fr. Gregory for the quote from St. Augustine.

I'm posting the final two chapters of my unpublished manuscript, "Life, Death and Love" (most of the rest is available in the side bar of my blog) in response to St. Augustine's observation about the deeper and spiritual motivation for suicide. I have spent most of my adolescence and adulthood with an undercurrent of longing for death. Like many human beings, I've had suicidal thoughts situationally intensified. There is indeed an element of escapism in fantasy about death self inflicted, but as Augustine points out, it is ultimately a desire for peace, to BE at a higher degree. That higher degree is ultimately realized in love, and as St. Paul confesses, the desire to depart is often conflicted with the need to stay. (Phil. 2)

CHAPTER 14 The Gospel According to Romeo and Juliet

“Ah. dear Juliet, why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe that unsubstantial death is amorous; and that the lean abhorred monster keeps thee here in dark to be his paramour? For fear of that I still will stay with thee, and never depart from this palace of dim night again: here, here will I remain (here with worms that are thy chambermaids; 0, will I set up my everlasting rest; and shake the yoke of inauspicious stars from this world wearied flesh.) Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace! and lips, a the doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss a dateless bargain to engrossing death! Come bitter conduct, come, unsavory guide! Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark! Here's to my love! 0 true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die." Romeo

"What's here? a cup, clos'd in my true love's hand? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end: 0, churl! drink all, and leave no friendly drop to help me after? I will kiss thy lips; haply some poison yet doth hang on them, to make me die with a restorative. Thy lips are warm! Yea, noise! then I'll be brief - 0 happy dagger this is thy sheath, thet'e rest and let me die." Juliet

"We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us ... the one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." St. John

Romeo and Juliet. Love and death. I am the incurable romantic; I am drawn to death because I am drawn to God.

I wish to die because I am desperately in love with my Beloved. This is the heartbreaking joy of passion, it is the Divine Romance.

All lovers know that love bids us die for the sake of our beloved. This is the beautiful tragedy of love. The romantic amalgam of love and death is the highest, the simplest and most profound of all mysteries held tenaciously by the human heart. This is Truth: Death is the final witness to the true depth of passion of the lover for the beloved. It is not when, at the end of the story, the lovers finally make love that touches our very souls. The most captivating and romantic of all endings is when two lovers willingly and gladly die for the sake of eternity in one another's arms. Death for the sake of love is simply the gospel according to Romeo and Juliet. Death is embraced by lovers because they know in death they will shed all the limits of the world and hindrances of this flesh and be ushered into the final and complete union of their hearts. In death for the sake of love there is a trust as deep as their love that there will be a resurrection of the two as one, inseparable, complete and eternally bound. This is Truth, eternal, inescapable.

The heart of love knows that love and death are indeed a single substance. There has never been a lover who has not sworn he would forsake his very life for his beloved; every lover offers to his beloved his willingness to die for the sake of his love, for the sake of her love, as evidence of the passion in his heart. Love lays down its life for the beloved, sometimes in a single act, more often in acts done singlemindedly over the years for the sake of the beloved. Whether a life is sacrificed in a moment or over a lifetime, it is laid down for the sake of possessing the heart and soul of the beloved, it is gladly and willingly given to the one desired above all others.

But it is when we hear of two lovers choosing the moment, the single act with hope for some eternal certainty of one another's presence that our hearts are touched in a place that is sometimes too fearful and holy for even ourselves to enter and seek its blessing. Our reasonable, calculating minds will tell us the lovers' suicide pact was a waste of life, an eternal mistake, an unthinking and terribly short sighted solution to traverse the barriers of loving in a world that seems hostile to passion. In our world-bounded humanity we resist touching the holy sorrow deep within us that envies them. We try to reason away the inexorable logic of love that, in our hearts, understands the reasonings of the heart broken by the desire for unhindered union with the beloved. We do this perhaps because in our humanity we fear death, and sometimes truly fear love more than death; but somewhere deep in our humanity we know death for the sake of love is what life is truly about, that it is an anchor of hope cast into eternity itself. If we will, and we must, set aside our fears and open wide the door to the mystery of love and death we will find the One to whom both love and death belong, in whose image we are created, whose nature we share. The door opens to the very dwelling place of our eternal Lover, God who gladly died for the sake of becoming one with us, his beloved, for all eternity.

This is, thus far the end of my pilgrimage in my search for the meaning of my desire for death. I can go no further or deeper than the very love of God himself. This is the place I rest, this is where I am content to dwell for now: My desire for death is a witness to the very passion of God that has won my heart and mind and soul and strength. It is a manifestation of my desire dwell forever in the heart of my Beloved; in death alone can I truly know the depth of love that loves to death.

In death alone I know that in love there is resurrection, that the love I share with my Beloved is stronger than death, a flame of passion many waters cannot quench. In death alone I know life is a burden gladly shed for the sake of eternity with my Beloved; all that keeps us apart, all our adversaries, the limitations of my flesh and heart are rendered powerless by death. In death sought for the sake of the Beloved, love alone is sovereign, our true union is consummated, finally and completely, and we will never be lost to one another again.

CHAPTER 15 “…and boy gets girl."

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. Come, and I shall show you the Bride of the Lamb. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, and made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 'And I heard a loud voice say, 'Behold, the very presence of God is with his people, and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain: the first things have passed away. ' " The Revelation of St. John

This is the whole of The Book. It is a story of love, surely, but of a love like all true loves, one that suffers greatly for the sake of finally and eternally possessing the beloved. It is the divine romance, the story of God's passionate pursuit of his beloved through Hell and high water to have her for himself. And the heart of sorrows is the heart touched by this True Love, it is the heart that longs for the ending of the story.

The Revelation of John is at the end of the story, an epilogue of sorts, told in images of such high definition cataclysmic, epic proportions with surround sound, that the mesage cannot be missed if we will stand back from the screen instead of standing with our noses to it. It is simply a retelling of The Love Story in ghastly and beautifully awesome images in case we did not understand when it was told in the terrifying human drama in which it actually happened: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl both suffer greatly, insurmountable odds are overcome, boy gets girl in the end and they live happily ever after.

And this is the end of the matter for the heart of sorrows, the One bruised and beaten by and for the sake of Love. This all lovers know, to this all lovers will say it is so and Amen: In the end, in love, nothing, but nothing, matters except the presence of our beloved. If that presence is ours we at once lose everything and possess all creation. This is Truth: When I finally sit in the presence of my beloved, embraced in her unconditional passion and love for me all the pain and sorrows of the joining of our hearts, the hell of the fear of rejection, all my longings for her in her absence, all of my doubts about her love, all of the darkness of being abandoned by her because of doubts and fears, all of our unbelief, lack of faith, all of it is consumed, all is swallowed up in our love. None of it matters, none of it is of any consequence, none of it is even remembered, all the first things have passed away, all things are new in her present embrace. There is now only my beloved; no belief or unbelief, no fear, no doubts, no past, no future, no sense of the passing of the present moment, only the two now one in a mystery and the eternal sense that it is now as it was intended from the beginning. For that moment love reigns supreme, the world, the two of us, God himself and all his creation is a seamless tapestry; everything is woven together by the bright threads of romance and passion. This is the final and best mystery, the hope to which all we know about human and divine love, and that to which John finally points us.

This is the eternal moment I long for most desperately. To rest in the arms of my True Beloved, to sit in the presence of His divine passion for my heart and soul, to be lost in Him, to be one with Him, finally and completely. It is then that I know all of life with its tears and desperations, hopelessness and fears and sorrows will be swallowed up in His holy and fearless love. It is then I will know that I am, but it is truly more than knowing: I will be, yes I will BE my Beloved's and He will be mine.

"Arise my darling, my beautiful one. For behold the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers have appeared in the land. Who is this that grows like the dawn, as beautiful as the full moon, as pure as the sun? I am my beloved's and his desire is for me. Come my beloved, let us go out into the country. Let us spend the night in the villages. Let us rise early and go to the vineyard, let us see whether the vine has budded and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love."

"The Spirit and the Bride say come…"

No comments: