PORTION THREE. . The only way? Into my words, as into the things around me, seeps the silence that defeats them. Better to say that contingency is the only way toward knowledge of God, and contingency, for Christians, is the essence of incarnation. And incarnation, as well as the possibilities for salvation within it, precedes Christ’s presence in history: Into the instant’s bliss never came one soul Whose soul was not possessed by Christ, Even in the eons Christ was not.And still: some who cry the name of Christ Live more remote from love Than some who cry to a void they cannot name.—after Dante . ♦♦♦ . I wouldn’t want any of this to seem like I’m blaming M. for her suffering, or that I’m in any way refusing to acknowledge the full impact of it. (Christ is contingency? An absurd, even callous thing for me to have said to her at that moment. It was true, but the time and the context made it, in any ordinary human sense, false.) There is a sense in which love’s truth is proved by its end, by what it becomes in us, and what we, by virtue of love, become. But love, like faith, occurs in the innermost recesses of a person’s spirit, and we can see only inward in this regard, and not very clearly when it comes to that. And then, too, there can be great inner growth and strength in what seems, from the outside, like pure agony or destruction. In the tenderest spots of human experience, nothing is more offensive than intellectualized understanding. “Pain comes from the darkness / And we call it wisdom,” writes Randall Jarrell. “It is pain.” . ♦♦♦ . Sorrow is so woven through us, so much a part of our souls, or at least any understanding of our souls that we are able to attain, that every experience is dyed with its color. This is why, even in moments of joy, part of that joy is the seams of ore that are our sorrow. They burn darkly and beautifully in the midst of joy, and they make joy the complete experience that it is. But they still burn. . continue reading… the rest of the story. . . .