Once, when I was still working (I am now retired) I was talking to a young man in India, whom I then visited on FaceBook to get a picture of him. I find it hard to talk to people by phone whom I’ve never seen. Young, twenty-something, typical, educated, urbane, full of interests, full of life, like many young men I’ve known, like I was at that age, like another young man who worked with me at my office, and was just past being a twenty-something, having already hit the pavement on the rough road of life—a broken, irreconcilable ten year marriage, now only a part of his personal history. Yes, trapped in a world without love.
It is a story I see repeated every day. Not one, but several of my younger friends have hit the pavement the same way. Divorce is the unwanted blessing of a world dedicated to making self-idolatry the state religion of unsaved humanity.
Unsaved? Well, it happens to the ‘saved’ as well as to the unsaved, it respects no persons, no creeds, it generously shares itself out among all, and even, no, especially, triumphs in those who call themselves Christians even as they are buying its bill of goods. It’s mostly men that I know, whether young or old, whose wives dump them, for career usually, but sometimes for other men, and occasionally for no apparent reason at all. If I had more women friends, I’d probably see the same pattern there, faithful wives inexplicably jettisoned by men too wrapped up in themselves to cool their jets. People throwing each other away, to pursue personal mirages big as the sky.
What is true is that everyone is born wanting. What is it we’re born wanting? As our lives unfold, there seems to be an endless parade of desires passing through our hearts and minds. Some we pursue briefly, others at length, some find apparent fulfillment, others we give up on as impossible. Either we find out in time that it was not what we really wanted and gladly give up, or we give in to the realisation that no matter what we do, we’ll never get him, or her, or it. Our desire proves to be unfulfillable, yet it simply doesn’t disappear: Hope, or desperation, transfers it to another object. We are born wanting, but until we find out what or whom it is we’re born wanting, we only obsess.
I look at a young married, or maybe unmarried, couple as they pass me on the street, or as they stop to attend to their baby in its stroller, or in the playground as they watch their kids on the swings or slide. I ponder, do they know what is in store for them down the road? Is all this happiness going to dissipate like morning mist evaporated by the hot sun? Invariably, I utter a prayer, ‘Preserve them, Lord!’ knowing that the world that they and their children must face with greater and more invasive intensity will never give them up to joy without a struggle. It will do all it can to divert them from joy, to crumple the possibility of it and throw it away before their eyes, offering them what? Resignation.
All that happens to us, good and bad, happens on the basis of faith, whether we have it or lack it, whether in full measure or minutely. It is faith that makes the difference in every situation, stripping every event that we encounter of an absolute value. Nothing is good or bad anymore, intrinsically. It is good or bad according to the faith that we have. What can appear to us as a good, as a blessing, can hide from us for many years the reality that what it is based on is simply nothing, that all was appearance, illusion. Hence, the oriental doctrine of maya. It surprises and confuses us when a friendship or a marriage that we thought unshakable comes tumbling down. We are dazed.
What did I do to deserve this? This is not what I bargained for. I followed all the rules (or if I am religious, I followed all the commandments), so why did this happen to me? We have wandered so far from the truth of our being, building with the brick of desire, mere mud mixed with straw that we worked so hard to gather, and not for ourselves, but for others, and this is what they do to us? Well, how can they not? No, they did nothing that we did not do to ourselves first by that wandering from the truth of our being. What truth of our being? That asking takes us deeper than we want to go, teaches more than we want to know, and so we avoid it. Still, the truth is there. We were born wanting.
Trapped in a world without love, when we realise this, where do we turn? To what or to whom? Nothing worth having is worth having well, that is, is worth anything unless we can share it. But whom can we share it with? This question has driven many to suicide. Not seeing the Invisible—how can they? Without faith they are blind—and trusting the visible, entrusting themselves wholeheartedly to images of desire, they miss the Beloved as He walks by, Who is no image, Who is not what but Whom they were born wanting. These are not thoughts that can be shared with anyone, not doctrines that can be taught to anyone. The Wanted awaits the wanting. Faith unsprings the trap that ensnares us.
I think back to my young friends. Some of them already broken, some hoping to be broken no more. Youth wanting to escape the trap walking right into it. Life freely beckons as we walk unknowingly onto its battlefield of justice, unaware that we either fall in battle slain by our own desires, or stand alone alive in possession of a kingdom but none with whom to share it. Why? Because we look and look again, but do not see. Listen and listen again, but do not hear. The chariot driver of our souls whispers to us, and we pause, then take aim, and pursue still the objects of desire, but He alone is Lord.
We sleep. Then we awake. Alone with Him, walking the long beach and leaving shallow prints on its glistening sands. He tells us the truth of all things. He tells us who we are, why we lived, why we died, how it is there is nobody here but us. ‘From before the beginning, Beloved, you were Mine, and I am yours.’ Hidden, always hidden, yet walking beside us, everything in His hands. Everything. The world vanishes. Trapped in a world without love? What world?
There always was only one, one world, one time, one being, one life, one heart, one love: Yes, only one joy. We were born wanting.
The Wanted awaits us. Faith unsprings the trap.
Faith, faith, and more faith.
Only faith has eyes.