Monday, June 23, 2014

The great terror: meditations on Death, part IV

Love was the reason of her standing,
Sorrow of her weeping.

-Meister Eckhart, sermon eighty-six

According to the tradition, so said Origen; and the emotive states are of themselves here, not of Mary Magdalene, or of God, but just of themselves. 

The tomb represents all created things; and it is empty because in the resurrection of the Christ, all created things are surpassed. 

We stand, in an inner sense, before this moment together; and it is carefully defined by sorrow. I say carefully, because this simple image is exquisitely constructed to convey so many truths in the most minimal of brush strokes. Here is the sorrow of His Endlessness, deftly rendered in the muted shades of death; not just the apparent death of Christ (which is ultimately defeated) but the death of all things, of all creation; and, as it happens, even the death of God Himself, in an apparent violation of both the natural and supernatural order. For God to die, you see, everything would have to not be; and of course this is impossible, although our sorrow cannot sense it, due to the intellectual—not-feeling— nature of the premise.

 Here we have the bare bones of the proposition, before it is expounded (see sermon 87): an empty tomb, a weeping woman; and all of her emotive forces purified, existing now of themselves alone, as natural emanations of divinity. 

This Spartan, purely emotive/feeling landscape is perhaps too far a reach for me; yet in our personal encounters with death, enough of the premise arrives for me to intuit understanding. A wordlessness emerges in me in the face of this mystery; no grief is sufficient, even grief finds its own stillness within itself. 

In this territory, no analysis or words can fully process what has taken place; it lies in the poet's realm, the realm of love and death, and as every poet can tell you, this realm belongs to God alone. That which is fished from its dark waters is fished through luck and grace alone, and not by any doing. It is the doing, in fact, that stymies me; yet in love and death, it is truly done, this thing of itself which is the unadulterated Will of God.

So I must have love, and I must have death; else I could not be human, for these two polarities define me. Birth is nothing more than a celebration of Being; love creates it and motivates it, and death defines it. Of the two, love is the greater; but without its dark sister, there would be no life, and no Mercy.

The strangest thing is that death makes Mercy necessary; death is the servant, and Mercy the master. So, in the story of the tomb, death—the great terror—becomes the absolute servant of resurrection.


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