Irreducible Longing


Is there no end to it? No bottom to this well of desire?

I have listened to the answers, those doctrinal platitudes served over easy. I have arranged them neatly upon the shelf and return to them again and again. They reassure me; I believe them.

I have heard the witnesses of contentment, the filled up ones, as they pour out their testimonies like slide shows of the Promised Land. They tell me tales of arrival, of journey’s end, of rest. They radiate conclusion. I believe them too.

I have also seen the furrowed brows of my unfortunate confessors. They strain to understand, but my strange tongue is unintelligible. They cannot absolve me, cannot bless me, and are relieved when I at last fall silent. For this they are secretly grateful; they do not wish to share such a vague, chronic burden. Inwardly I promise never again to sow in sunny gardens the dark seeds of discontent. I smile and set them free.

Longing is a lonely thing. It wanders through the wastelands of plenty but does not see its other self among faith’s bright certainties. There are no correspondences, nothing commensurate with the capacity for hunger. There are the promises—not empty, but still promises; promises that taunt the primal ache, bait the itch, lure the mapless quester with intimations of some unutterable grail.

And if, as it is written, by these promises I participate in the divine nature, then God too must be hungry. A ravenous yearning drives the universe toward its final end, an implacable hunger the weary creation will not survive. The mathematical edges of the cosmos will curl in the heat of infinite desire, and with a roar the far-flung galaxies will turn to ash. Into the heavens and earth will be poured an unbridled, fathomless Passion until the very seams of infinity tear asunder. Then out of this imponderable wound will bloom a place/not place called Sharon where those who yearn shall themselves be devoured by a greater hunger.

And they shall be free at last.



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