Sunday, September 13, 2020

One of the Greatest Dramas of Human Existence

Act I of In Front of the Jeweler's Shop shows human love that persists past death; Act II shows human love that fades in the midst of life. Act II is a study of the contrast of yearning for eternal Love and searching for human love, as Anna says "I don't know how it was that I felt ready to try and make every man notice me.  It might have been just a simple reflection of that longing, but I was convinced that no one could take that right from me."  Anna demands the right to make men notice her, to take and not to receive, to pursue the road of emptiness in search of fullness. 

Adam responds to her futility: "This is what compels me to think about human love.  There is no other matter embedded more strongly in the surface of human life, and there is no matter more unknown and more mysterious.  The divergence between what lies on the surface and the mystery of love constitutes precisely the source of the drama.  It is one of the greatest dramas of human existence.  The surface of love has its current--swift, flickering, changeable.  A kaleidoscope of waves and situations full of attraction.  This current is sometimes so stunning that it carries people away--women and men.  They get carried away by the thought the they have absorbed the whole secret of love, but in fact they have not even touch it.  They are happy for a while, thinking they have reached the limits of existence and wrested all its secrets from it, so that nothing remains.  That's how it is: on the other side of that rapture nothing remains, there is nothing left behind it.  But there can't be nothing; there can't!  Listen to me, there can't.  Man is a continuum, a totality and a continuity--so it cannot be that nothing remains!" The divergence is the problem as man cannot find a way to be free enough to search for the deep mystery of eternal Love, to swim free of the currents of the surface of love, for "deep to call to deep in the roar of His waterfalls" (Psalm 42:7).

Anna is lost in the currents of the surface of love, seeking to quench her loneliness.   How can she find her way to the everlasting water? Adam has the answer: the Bridegroom. He exhorts her to be His bride: "Ah, Anna, how am I to prove to you that on the other side of all those loves that fill our lives there is Love!  The Bridegroom is coming down this street and walks every street!  How am I to prove to you that you are the bride?  One would now have to pierce a layer of your soul as one pierces the layer of brushwood and soil when looking for a source of water in the green of a wood. You would then hear him speak: Beloved you do not know how deeply you are mine, how much you belong to my love and my suffering--because love means to give life through death; to love means to let gush a spring of the water of life into the depths of the soul, which burns or smolders and cannot burn out.  Ah, the flame and the spring.  You don't feel the spring but are consumed by the flame.  Is that not so?".  Anna knows in her soul that the way leads through the physicality of her body and the prospect of suffering, the way is to participate in His suffering so that she can also participate in His love.

In the end the way is through her husband, through his face. The way to receive eternal Love, for her is through "the face of the one she hates and ought to love".  This is the path of the bride, through her husband in his physicality, in the reality of human relationship.  Is this just? Is there not an easier way, a more solitary way that she can contro, a way that she can avoid the risk of suffering?

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