On this day of national mourning, those lives lost twenty-one years ago burn in our souls like votive candles before the icon of the world’s immense agony. This day calls us to remember what is lost every day. For the dead keep piling up, the metronome of history.
The question: is this general wasting the kingdom of the underworld overtaking the earth, or is it a long rapture into a world invisible and yet to come?
What decides the matter is love. The French Resistance poet René Char writes: “Once again, we must love one another well, must breathe more deeply than the executioner’s lungs” (from Hypnos).
Darkness spreads across the American soul. We forget how to be uncalculating in our devotion to each other. We are afraid to live on the invisible. We need to make everything heavy with money and plans and security and power and judgment, all the gravities of hell. We have grown too predictable to leap from our superiority towards the other person, who cannot catch a breath, discarded on the shore.
What we need is to learn how to fall upwards into the waters wherein swim the stars, the way we did when we first fell in love.
Char: “I see hope, the stream in which tomorrow’s waters will run, drying up in the gestures of those all around me. The faces I love are wasting away in the nets of expectation, which eats into them like acid. How little help we receive, what scant encouragement! The sea and its shores are the obvious way forward but have been sealed off by the enemy. They are at the back of everyone’s mind, the mould for a substance comprised, in equal measure, of the rumour of despair and the certainty of resurrection.”