You! Most single and singular, whom I love best! Even you are in fact immensely remote from me, you dear centre of an alien universe. Though you are the most near of all things, you are also sometimes perplexingly remote. Over how many decades have we been growing together in a joyful, a life-giving, an indissoluble symbiosis! Yet even now, sometimes I have no idea what you are feeling or thinking. You are apt for action, I for contemplation;. you for responding to the minute particular that claims your service, I (Oh fatally) for the universal and the far-flung. Although our minds do indeed most often move in a common rhythm, like a close-dancing couple, yet sometimes we are at arm's length, or we break step, or we fly apart, cleft by some sudden discord. How many times have I said to you, 'Quick, there is a train to catch', and you have answered, 'There is plenty of time'; or I, 'Now we are too late', and you, 'The train may be later'. Even in Hell you would be an optimist. But in the end, of course, through some black magic which you are forced to use on such occasions, the train is caught, and we sit together silent, waiting for it to start. Again and again our diversity hurts, it even infuriates,' but it does not really matter. Indeed in the end it is an enrichment, a painful but In the end a welcome partiapation of each in the uniqueness of the other.
Even in that most sharp discordancy of all, did we not become more real to one another? In the end we have grown together more closely. We know one another the better for it; we love one another the better. We are more intimately and indissolubly 'we'.
Of course each of us is still 'I', and the other is 'you', the far centre of an alien universe,' but increasingly, and now indestructibly, the two of us together are also 'we', the single, though two-minded centre of a universe common to both of us. We see the world together. No longer does each of us look at it merely in solitariness, with single vision, seeing it as a fiat picture. We perceive it now in depth, stereoscopically. With our common binocular vision each regards all things from our two alien viewpoints.
Our distinctness is as precious as our unity, and our unity as our distinctness. Without deep harmony, in our roots and our flowers, how could we hold together? But without our difference, how kindle one another?
Nothing in my world is identical with anything in yours. Not a tree, not a word, not a person. Is redness, even, to me just i what it is to you? Probably it is much the same, for we are similar organisms; but perhaps, (who knows?) your 'red' is what I call 'green'. What matter? Such a difference would be eternally insignificant for us, since it would be for ever indiscernible. But justice, beauty, truth and a good joke have meanings that we can share with one another, and are discovered to be never identical for the two of us. And though we have friends in common, they are never quite the same persons. Though the friends of each are the friends of both, yet also and inevitably the friend, the lover, of one is the other's possible antagonist. These our differences, that haunt us elusively at every turn, or step suddenly forward and bar the way with fire, cannot without disaster be ignored. Blind love is no love at all.
We are indeed for ever separate, for ever different, for ever in some measure discordant; but with a discordancy ever more harmonized in the 'we' that is for each of us so much more than ‘I’ yes, and perhaps even than 'you'. As centres of awareness we remain eternally distinct... but in participation in our 'we', each 'I' wakens to be an ampler, richer' I', whose treasure is not 'myself' but 'we'. And so 'I' without 'you' am a mere torn-off ragged thing, a half-blinded crippled thing, a mere phantom whose embodiment is only in 'us'.
This precious 'we' that we have conceived together, this close-knit unity in difference, this co-habitation and communion of two spirits, will not for ever exfoliate on this planet. Soon or late, one or other of us will die. Then 'we', no doubt, will live on for a while in the survivor, as a cherished but a growthless thing. When both are dead, it will vanish from this world. And then? Surely it is incredible that 'we' should have no further being.
Yes, but the incredible has often happened.
Dread, and to us inscrutable, are the dark ways of dark God.
Death Into Life Contents