Self, suspended

Self, suspended June 29, 2018

Study for “Pieta” or “The Last Judgment” Michelangelo. (WikiArt)

Surely you know all things, since you are no-thing. You are, and all else needs you in order to be. So surely you know me already, know what it is that I will be trying to say, know me better than I know myself. Augustine says interior intimo meo, and so you are: nearer to me than I am to myself. (A self is a self, says Kierkegaard, by relating to itself and by relating itself to God.)

And what is this self I bring before you? What do you think of this self? Or, knowing it already, do you watch and wait as I struggle to know myself in the light of your gaze? Or perhaps from all eternity you decide to help me be a self before you, a self that you know and make – making me in knowing me, knowing me in making me – in the same absolutely simple act. For you, knowing and doing are the same. As for me, I am always growing into a self that escapes my grasp.

There is a self that from all eternity you want me to be, and I cannot be this self without you, though I could refuse to be. I could be a self that you do not want. Do you hate that self? Did you hate Adam when he became someone else? Or, since you are love itself, did your love burn hot at his betrayal, did you wage war against Adam until all resistance was swept under the tide of your wrath, and did you weep when he died at your hand?

Who am I to you? Which am I to you? At my right stands the slain lamb with his many eyes, and at my left the monstrous leviathan rising from the deep. At my right the sheep, at my left the goats. Where would you have me go?

If I were to search myself – as you watch me from within, with those eyes set like many diamonds in a crown, seeing at all angles – if were to search myself, what would I find? What would we find, and what will I learn to think of this secret self when you look at my self along with me? Which Adam will it be, old or new, and will you love that Adam hidden somewhere in the many rooms of this castle…

If I were to upend the house to find the lost coin of myself, the one with the image of me (or you), and very small…

Are there rusted pennies, scratched and green and unrecognizable? What will we do with these? Or is it impossible to irradicate your image, will you always be there in the worn metal, there in the image, without the likeness…

I climb up the darkened ladder of a towering and mysterious self (though I am small), gathering the things you already know, touched by your fingers in the clay. An image of the absolute on a fragile thing. A universe held in a single pearl.

Oh, but what to do with the broken things? Saint Benedict once made a broken pitcher whole. Is that what I will be?

Surely you know already. But I ask because I found these coins – and they are all that I have – and I do not know what you and I will make of them. I do not know. I am suspended between the silence of appraisal and the word of judgment; I am a small bird high in the sharp breeze.

Lord, what will we make of me?


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