The comfort of continuance

In the book I’m reading, two people are having a conversation by a river – the aristocratic fisherman and the cleric.  It picks up, here, “There was a silence. The river went on flowing and in the meadows the cows continued to graze.”

In the midst of unexpected, perhaps uncomfortable silence, in the midst of trouble, in the midst of confusion, in the midst of heartache – the rivers flow and the cows continue to graze… and it is a good thing, a comforting awareness.  There is continuance. There is a new day.


“The fear [more like profound respect leading to complete trust and adherence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; she inebriates mortal with her fruits…

“The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish. She rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension, and she heightened the glory of those who held her fast.

“To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom, and her branches are long life.” [Sirach 1:14-20]


There is this little thing called “unconditional love” – this strange, alien, seemingly unattainable thing. To love, unconditionally. To be loved, unconditionally.

Over the last few months, I’ve been made to realize – forced to confront – how very far from this strange, little, glorious, horrible thing I fall. It pains me greatly, daily, this shortcoming, this failure of mine – it is never, ever just about me when such a failing is made real. This isn’t sentimentalism, BTW. It is diminishment all around, however.

Considering an other, one beloved of God, before myself – well, I like to believe it so. How in the world to pick back up, again? Yet, here I am.

We all imagine ourselves to be capable of such a thing, right? I strive for it, but in the end my conditioning in this narcissistic culture of ours, my fear, my faithlessness, my selfishness – all of it – wins the day, and that which gives contentment, gives honest peace, gives life-to-the-full (all for the sake of the other, and to be realized myself as a result) is put off further down the road… so many more miles down the road. It is never, ever just about me.

And we all lose out on a bit more… love. If I want to find my true life, I have to lose my life – give it away. So say we all. Right? How strange, how alien in our day (in any human day), is this unconditional love. I want to try, again.

On Facebook, where the above was first posted, a good friend of High School days responded, and I responded…
Lynn Duskey Gagnon – Most of the worlds greatest literature examines this very longing. I suspect, Bob, you are farther along on this path than you think. . .probably farther along at seeking it than most, and closer to it for the contemplation of it. I do a disservice to those around me by shying away from thinking too deeply about unconditional love, lest I fall into a great abyss of depression at what I might find. After all, is it really possible for humans, or is unconditional love strictly divine?

Bob Griffith – My goodness, Lynn Duskey Gagnon, from disco lessons to wondering whether unconditional love can only be of the Divine. It has taken us a long time to get here, I suppose. I remember when, and correct me if I am wrong, you pulled out of acting as a career partly because of things teachers required of you – limits you would not cross, and rightfully so for you at the time. When I was thinking about the same career path, I wonder now about where my own limits might have fallen – or actually fallen away. This thing about unconditional love – so hard to think of it beyond the conditional… how we’ve been conditioned to understand “love” and the giving and receiving of it. Is there a reckless abandon concerning love that we must give ourselves to, beyond what is comfortable or conventional or expected or accepted in order to find the unconditional aspect of it all? Is that what makes great actors great? Is that what enables one to love, mightily? Is there a limit, a boundary when crossed over, that leads to something destructive, counter to what we truly desire – whether being a good actor or one who might be able to tap the Divine and taste but a bit of unconditional love?