That’s a risk we’re now going to take together, Brida. An anonymous text from the Tradition says that, in life, each person can take one of two attitudes: to build or to plant. The builders might take years over their tasks, but one day, they finish what they’re doing. Then they find they’re hemmed in by their own walls. Life loses its meaning when the building stops.
Then there are those who plant. They endure storms and all the many vicissitudes of the seasons, and they rarely rest. But, unlike a building, a garden never stops growing. And while it requires the gardener’s constant attention, it also makes life for the gardener to be a great adventure.
Gardeners always recognize each other, because they know that in the history of each plant lies the growth of the whole World.
‘When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.’
‘Perhaps solitude has made his madness worse,’ Brida thought, and again felt the first stirrings of panic. She may have been young, but she knew the harm that loneliness could do to people, especially as they got older. She had met people who had lost the glow of being alive because they could no longer fight against loneliness and had ended up becoming addicted to it. they were, for the most part, people who believed the world to be an undignified, inglorious place, and who spent their evenings and nights talking on and on about the mistakes others had made. They were people whom solitude had made into the judges of the world, whose verdicts were scattered to the four winds foe whoever cared to listen. Perhaps the Magus had gone mad with loneliness.
She had no choice: either she believed in God, in her Guardian Angel, or she despaired.
The night is just a part of the day. Therefore she could feel as safe in the dark as she did in the light. It was the dark that had made her invoke that protective presence. She must trust it. And that trust was called Faith. No one could ever understand Faith, but Faith was what she was experiencing now, an inexplicable immersion in blackest night. It only existed because she believed in it. Miracles couldn’t be explained either, but they existed for those who believed in them.
‘I learned about the Dark Night,’ she said to the now silent forest. ‘I learned that the search for God is a Dark Night, that Faith is a Dark Night. And that’s hardly a surprise really, because for us each day is a dark night. None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, and yet still we go forwards. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.’
Or, who knows, perhaps because we just don’t see the mystery contained in the next second. Not that it mattered. What mattered was knowing that she had understood.
That every moment in life is an act of faith.
That you could choose to fill it with snakes and scorpions or with a strong protecting force.
That Faith cannot be explained. It was simply a Dark Night. And all she had to do was to accept it or not.
‘Finding your Soulmate is something that only happens in fairy tales,’ she told herself, half-joking. Fairy tales had been her first experience of the magical universe that she was now so eager to enter, and more than once she had wondered why people ended up distancing themselves from that world, knowing the immense joy that childhood had brought to their lives.
‘perhaps because they weren’t content with feeling joy.’ She found the idea slightly absurd, but nevertheless recorded in it her diary as a ‘creative’ thought.
‘Just look at that sky,’ said Lorens, stroking her hair. ‘What we’re looking at now is how the sky would have appeared thousands of years ago.’
He had told her the same thing on the day they first met, but Brida chose not to interrupt him- this was his way of sharing his world with her.
‘Many of those stars have already died, and yet their light still fills the Universe. Other stars were born far away, and their light has not yet reached us.’
‘so no one knows what the real sky looks like?’ She had asked that same question on their first meeting too, but it was good to repeat such delicious moments.
‘We don’t know. We study what we can see, but what we see is not always what exists.’
‘I want to ask you something. What are we made of? Where did the atoms that make up our bodies come from?’
Lorens looked up at the ancient sky and said:
‘They were created along with these stars and this river. In the first second of the Universe’s existence.’
‘So after that first moment of Creation, nothing more was added.’
‘No, nothing. Everything moves and continues to move. Everything was transformed and continues to be transformed. But all the matter that exists in the Universe now is the same matter from all those billions of years ago, and not so much as a single atom has been added.’
Brida sat studying the movement of both river and stars. It was easy to see the river flowing across the Earth, but it was hard to see the stars moving in the sky. And yet both were moving.
‘Lorens,’ she said at last, after a long silence during which they both watched a boat passing. ‘Let me ask what might seem an absurd question: is it physically possible that the atoms that make up my body could have been in the body of someone who lived before me?’
Lorens stared at her in mazement.
‘What do you mean?’
‘What I said. Is such a thing possible?’
‘They could be in plants or insects or they could have turned into helium molecules and and be out there somewhere, millions of miles from Earth.’
‘But is it possible that the atoms that made up the body of someone who died could be in my body AND in someone else’s body?’
He said nothing for a monet, then said:
‘Yes, it is.’
‘I love you, Lorens.’
And Brida hoped against hope that this young man who knew so much about the light from the stars contained little of the person she had once been.
Each time she had finished the exercise on the previous three nights, she had felt like crying. She felt vulnerable and alone and had a sense that a great opportunity was slipping through her fingers. Once again, she felt that life was not treating her as it treated other people: it gave her every chance to achieve something, and just when she was close to her objective, the ground opened up and swallowed her. That’s how it had been with her studies, with certain boyfriends, with certain dreams she had never shared with anyone.
‘I’m always starting things and then giving up’, she thought rather sourly. Perhaps life would soon realize this and stop presenting her with the same opportunities over and over. Or perhaps, by always giving up when she had just started, she had exhausted all possible paths without even taking a single step.
But that was how she was, and she felt herself growing gradually weaker and less and less able to change. A few years before, she would have felt depressed by her own behaviour, but she would, at least, still have been capable of the occasional heroic gesture, now, though, she was starting to adapt to her won mistakes. She knew other people who did the same- they, too, got used to their mistakes and it wasn’t long before they began to see them as virtues. And by then it was too late.
‘It’s happened before. Because of some thoughtless gesture towards one person, I’ve ended up losing touch with other people I really cared about.’ She couldn’t do the same thing now. She was on a path where valuable contacts were very hard to find.
....to be continued inshaAllah