‘The Cathars, or the Perfect Ones, were the Priests of a church founded in the south of France at the end of the twelfth century. They believed in reincarnation and in the existence of absolute Good and absolute Evil. The world was divided into chosen and the lost, which meant that there was no point in trying to convert anyone.
Emotions really were like wild horses, and all she could do now was set them free.
Her hands were shaking uncontrollably. Lorens got to his feet, picked up a piece of paper and made two holes in it, about eight inches apart. He placed the sheet of paper on the table, leaning it against the whiskey bottle, so that it was vertical.
Then he went into the kitchen and returned bearing a cork.
He sat at the head of the table, pushed the piece of paper and the bottle to the other end, and put the cork in front of him.
‘come over here,’ he said.
Brida got up. She was trying to hide her shaking hands, not that he appeared to notice.
‘Let’s pretend that the cork is an electron, one of the small partcles that make up the atom. Do you understand?’
‘Right, well listen carefully. If I had certain highly complicated bits of apparatus with me that would allow me to shoot an electron in the direction of that piece of paper, it would pass through the two holes at the same time, except that it would do so without splitting into two.’
‘I don’t believe it’, she said. ‘that’s impossible.’
Lorens took the piece of paper and threw it away. Then, being a tidy person, he put the cork back where it belonged.
‘You may not believe it but it’s true. It’s something that scientists know but cant explain. I don’t believe a thing you’ve told me, but I know that it’s true.’
Brida’s hands were still shaking, but she wasn’t crying and she didn’t lose control. Al she noticed was that the effect of the alcohol had completely worn off. she was strangely lucid.
‘and what do scientists do when confronted by these mysteries?’
‘They enter the Dark Night, to use a term you taught me. we know that the mystery wont ever go away and so we learn to accept it, to live with it. I think the same thing happens in many situations in life. A mother bringing up a child must feel that she’s plunging into the Dark night too. Or an immigrant that travels to a far-off country in search of work and money. They believe that their efforts will be rewarded and that one day they’ll understand what happened along the way which, at the time, seemed so very frightening. It isn’t explanations that carry us forward, it’s our desire to go on.’
Brida suddenly felt immensely tired. She needed to sleep. Sleep was the only magical kingdom into which she could freely enter.
She was on the beach with her father, and he asked her to go and see what the temperature of the water was like. She was five years old and glad to be able to help. She went to the water’s edge and dipped in a toe.
‘I put my feet in and it’s cold,’ she told him.
Her father picked her up and carried her down to the water again and, without any warning, threw her in. She was shocked at first, but then laughed out loud at the trick he’d played.
‘How’s the water?’asked her father.
‘It’s lovely,’ she replied.
‘Right, from now on, whenever you want to find out something, plunge straight in.’
She wasn’t afraid of difficulties; what frightened her was being forced to choose one particular path.
Choosing a path meant having to miss out on others. She had a whole life to live and she was always thinking that, in future, she might regret the choices she made now.
‘I’m afraid of committing myself,’ she thought to herself. She wanted to follow all possible paths and so ended up following none
After her first romantic disappointment, she had never again given herself entirely. She feared pain, loss and separation. These things were inevitable on the path to love, and the only way of avoiding them was by deciding not to take that path at all. In order not to suffer, you had to renounce love. It was like putting out your own eyes in order not to see the bad things in life.
That was the law of life. That was the Dark Night, and no one could escape the Dark night, even if they never made a decision, even if they lacked the courage to change anything, because that in itself was a decision, a change, except without the benefit of the treasures hidden in the Dark night.
.....to be continued...