For Donna who is dying
And so after a year, we end with Marion giving us a sketch of what love is: that love is “a visible jubilation of invisibles, without any visible object, yet in balance, through the crossing of aims…”
That is why it is possible to no longer look at my beloved but still see her, be with her. Seeing without seeing, it now becomes clear how lovers need not see each other face to face. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery says, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction.” Orpheus, if he truly loved Eurydice, should have had faith in their love and should have walked on without seeing her following him. If only Orpheus believed in Eurydice, if he believed in their love, they would have been able to walk out of Hades toward the same direction, the same horizon, without having to see each other.
But Eurydice died—this we all know. But the greater problem is she will always have to die. Whether or not Orpheus looked at her, Eurydice will still die. Even if Orpheus traveled from the land of the living to the land of the dead, he will still lose Eurydice for Eurydice is but mortal. And this is the final absurdity. The one you love, the one for whom you would give up heaven and earth and life and death, will also die. Despite all the love you can give, despite your self.
And when the one you love dies—when she is no longer a being and is already a non-being—what care would you have for all that still is, for all that still exists, for all that is still in Being. As Jean-Luc Marion puts it in God without Being, “What marvel can still be found in the fact that being in general is—when what one loves is no more, and when this itself (the beloved) could not be expressed by the name being?” What could be marvelous, wonderful and astonishing (thaumazein) in the fact that “All being is in Being” when the only being that matters is no longer a being? When the only meaning is lost forever?
But all is not lost. All cannot be lost. And here we turn to an old friend in Marcel. Marcel says that when one says, “I love you” to the beloved, one simultaneously declares, “You shall not die.” In other words, kapag sinasabi mong mahal kita ang sinasabi mo ay hindi ka mamamatay. We do not stop loving because our beloved will die. We love all the more in spite of death because our love is stronger than death itself. How so?
Precisely because, going back to Marion, our love is itself invisible to the world. Being invisible to the world, it is indifferent to time and space, or better, it transcends time and space. This invisible love, seen and shared by two finite but invisible beings, transcends finitude and passes over to the infinite in death. It passes over to the truly invisible realm of the infinite, where we both may only hope in an Infinite and Invisble God who will sustain our love. And this is why we can only love in faith and hope: faith in a God who will receive our love, and hope in Him that he will not fail us.
To end, I’d like to quote what Thornton Wilder said at the end of The Bridge of San Luis Rey:
But soon we shall die and all memory (of those we love) will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
Thank you and I’m sorry.
(I shall always love you even if i may never see you again.)
A final lecture given on March 2005