Saturday, August 19, 2006

wounds of love

From Thibon's introduction to Simone Weil's Gravity and Grace:
Supernatural love...does not protect the soul against the coldness of force, the coldness of steel... The hero wears armor, the saint is naked. Armor, while keeping off blows, prevents any direct contact with reality and makes it impossible to enter the realm of supernatural love. If things are really to exist for us they have to penetrate within us. Hence the necessity for being naked: nothing can enter into us while armor protects us from wounds and from the depths which they open up. This law is inexorable: We lessen our own suffering to the extent that we weaken our inner and direct communion with reality.
This passage is both beautiful and frightening: part of me is freed by it, and part of me revolts against it. I marked the page because of this line: If things are really to exist for us they have to penetrate within us. And I thought of a conversation I had recently about the way love effaces us, rubs out our boundaries and distinct sense of self. My friend was voicing his fear of this effacement, and I could clearly see that the process wounds him. I look at him with awe--because while I do not wish such wounds on anyone, I believe his experience of love is more pure because of it.

If only we could come without "armor" before each other more often, naked, how much closer we would come to life as it really is, closer perhaps to God. But then I consider the suffering: ahhhh, I do not know!


Julia said...

I love Simone Weil but I do feel some caution towards her dramatic flare and spooky mood. Your mixed reaction to this passage seems, to me, intuitively discerning even though you're naturally attracted to these words. I know you, and you believe in confronting (i.e. "communing with") reality and in making yourself vulnerable, and both of those things are so good, but Simone Weil describes these pursuits in such a lop-sided fashion here. She doesn't talk about their inherent rewards...she doesn't give the full picture of the paradoxical suffering and joy that intermingle in the martyrdom that we believe in.

Also (!), there's nothing supernatural about nakedness and vulnerability for their own sake. As I know too well, they can be the disastrous products of all-too-human infatuations. I don't think we're called to this kind of weakness unless we're bolstered up by a healthy dose of divine strength simultaneously.

The whole darn thing is just more paradoxical and complex that she's making it out to be-- both safe and scary, both light and dark, burdensome and easy. That's all I really want to say and I'll take my obnoxious comment off the air.

Lucy said...

oh, Jules, just what I needed to hear! I'm reading this book with a friend, I just need to bring you along to our discussions. If you get a call Wednesday evening, you'll know what for.