Sunday, March 24, 2019

apologies to Richard and Rainer Maria

Love calls us to the things of this world, I think as my attention is drawn away from the tantalizing imaginary of blue and white messages glowing on a screen to the crushed cockroach at the Times Square Subway Station floor.

The poor pest lies supine, frozen in a humiliated moment of death. Poor guy.

It's a perfect day in Central Park, the sunlight is so clear, you can see the shadows in your soul take shape, their profiles detailed in high definition. Other shades, ones that haunt your brain, vanish in the sunlight. Who knew that such fraudulent ghosts could appear so concrete?

If love calls us to the things of this world, it calls us to the the puppy whimpering in the coffee shop, to slick dialogue gliding off quick tongues, to fine acting, revealing a human being in his simplicity, it draws us to the shape of the mirror down the hallway, to elegies shared over white cup diner coffee. Yes, love calls us to memories of rivers we once swam in. It draws us to the pine tree we climbed once with a whimsical lover, searching for a telos and a Lime Bike. It calls us to biking down cement in the South Bend summer. Love draws us to thick, frozen margaritas, served in goblets that might as well be bowls, garnished with the lazy sweetness of Saturday laughter.

Love calls us to all these things of this world.

But underneath these things, the world can often crumple back into ourselves. Just as we thought that love could call us out into the things of this world, we are sucked back into the sinkhole of our selves. Whom can we ever turn to in our need? cries Rilke. No one answers him. Swallow your sob. What's the point? If a single soul sobs in the middle of a universe that doesn't care at all, does anyone really hear her?

Love calls us to the things of this world: to the small mouse in the kitchen, to the worm in the puddle we carry to the grass, to the man holding out his cup for change. To the star, the wave, the violin or cello. To laundry.

The things of this world carry us beyond themselves, as all living things do, into the love that calls us to them. Because, well—what good would things be all on their own? Even our abstract possessions—happiness and peace—grow stale without a more robust reality behind them, guiding them, and receiving the emptiness of their arms.

The things of this world—the fox wagging its tail up ahead as it trots up the mountain trail, the cold of late-nights watching meteor showers on the driveway, the soft lips of sweet men—call us to the love whose terrifying presence calls us to them.

All this was mission.

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