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New Year's Meditation: 6 January 2012 My beloved: My Christmas epistle dwelled at (perhaps unnecessarily) great length on the topic

of time and its passing. Since then, you and I have discussed a great many things though this is hardly surprising; yours has ever been a nimble and keen intellect, and so such a diversity of subject-matter in our dialogues is hardly surprising. Regardless, an exploration of time and its passing seems appropriate, given the occasion and the season. One of the most striking and yet largely unnoticed features of the New Year season has to be the great emphasis placed, not on the year to come, but rather on the past, and then, not always upon the recent past, but rather upon that entire chain of events that make up the narrative, as it were, of the life lived up to that moment. This may explain my long-held suspicion that the free flow of alcohol that always marks this holiday is occasioned at least as much by regret for what was as it is by hope for what may be. Critical examination and introspection nearly always require something to dull the edge of the pain that accompanies them. You will recall, from my old letters, and from some of the more melancholy writings and musings since then, that the passing of time has been a source of seemingly endless grief to me. It has long been my custom and wont to dwell on the past, on all of the missed opportunities for happiness that seem to mark the path and course of the love we share. I have lived much of my life in a sort of bereavement for a life that never was. One of the many things you have taught me and this not directly, for your wisdom and insight and guidance come to me in far more subtle and, therefore, more elegant ways is that this sadness was not only needless, but absolutely mindless. Worse, it revealed an attitude of profound and nearly unforgiveable ingratitude. As we both recall and this I recall with particular amazement, even now not long after we came to know one another, there was an immediate and (if I may say so) indissoluble bond formed between us. The fact of our separation under circumstances far beyond our control or even our anticipation hit us both rather hard, and, for my own part, was all but crushing, especially as we were just beginning or so it seemed, and so I hoped to renew and strengthen the ties between us. My early correspondence to you was marked, as I recall, by a mixture of hope tinged with sadness: I was expecting your immanent return, and mourned merely for the few months' time lost since last we saw each other. When it became obvious that you were not likely to return, and then, when it seemed all but an accomplished fact that you would forever be away from me, I slid into despair and hopelessness. Certain other events occurring at or about that same time only contributed to this sense of loss, as you know. However, in meditating upon all that has happened, it (the mourning and bereavement and all the rest of that gloominess) seems rather needless. For, in truth (and how young was he who first met and loved you, how foolish, who could not see that fact and truth stand in relationship as shadow and substance) there was no loss. All that was essential, all that was good and true and beautiful that was (and is) manifested in and through you was unchanged by the trivial details of distance and time.

"Fire," Aristotle reminds us, "burns the same here and in Asia." That I was in one place and you in another had no bearing on, made no difference to, that which we found and shared and find and share even now. And so I say it was needless, and beg such forgiveness for this as may be granted the follies and misunderstandings that mark youth. My great and needless melancholy was mindless; this, too, becomes obvious upon close examination. For what was it that drove me to attempt, in my humble and limited way, to plumb the depths of Being, and, having found such pursuits more clever than wise, more intriguing than useful, to move from there to meditation upon the heart of Man and his Maker? As you know, it was you specifically, the epiphantic character of that which I was privileged to witness (though not, at the time, understand; even now, my grasp of it is tenuous and limited) in and through you who set my feet on the paths of study and scholarship. In my effort to understand that which I saw because of you, I was compelled to undertake years of study and meditation. Perhaps one who does not know you, or who does not know me, would say that this is all slightly absurd; it approaches, this one might argue, idolisation of the beloved, a quaint bit of poeticising, forgiveable, perhaps, in a starry-eyed youth, but wholly out of place in one fast approaching his fortieth summer. And while this is a criticism that might be levelled against me, it is one that relies on a limited and defective understanding of matters. For, in truth, even the most eloquent and seemingly excessive expressions of my regard and love for you cannot begin to approach the truth of things. I have described that which is revealed in and through you as "epiphantic," and this is precisely the best and only word for it. In and through you, I was privileged to gain a glimpse, however fleeting (and the fleetingness of it, as I was to come to understand, by no means a limitation or defect in the vision, but rather the normal and customary nature of such things) of a deep mystery. Tradition and the words of the wise tell that Man is made in the image and likeness of the Creator, which suggests that each individual, rightly understood, is an expression and manifestation of the Author of Being. This is a truth, a universally and eternally valid statement of an immutable state of affairs, and, as such, is not subject to verification through the five senses, those crude instruments for the collection of information regarding at best contingent states or properties of particular bits of matter at one time or another. Rare indeed are those occasions when the veil of oblivion covering Being is pierced, when the truth is revealed. And yet, this is what happened. He Who formed, you formed me as well, and for some reason or purpose unknown and perhaps even unknowable, He saw fit to permit me to see Him in you. It sounds shocking, and it is, but it is true. And in seeing Him in you, I was able to recognize at once that He was in me, as well. Loving you redeemed and saved me, as you know, for I had fallen (and this long before meeting you) into despair, and regarded most people as little more than clever beasts; self-regard and self-flattery did not exclude me from that assessment, as you know, too. Yet, to think such a thing of you was repulsive to me; indeed, even before that deep closeness developed between us, it was impossible to regard you as anything less or other than a miracle and a

wonder, a living, breathing refutation of all those dark and foolish notions. It was many years before the understanding and discernment required to grasp this came to me, but when it did, I saw that I, too, was, in some limited way, but in some way nevertheless, part of the divinity I saw in you. This, in part, is what I mean when I say that your love redeemed and saved me, for had I continued to wallow in such error, there can be no doubt that my soul would have been excluded forever from the possibility of knowledge of God, which is the source and condition of the survival and endurance of whatever is immortal (because it is divine) in the human soul. And this is what I mean when I say that your love makes me deathless. As death is the worst evil that can befall any living being, to be spared such a fate is a great blessing. And I, who had received such an unmerited gift at so young an age, was shown guilty of ingratitude by my reaction to our temporary (for all things of this world, and all things merely human, are merely temporary) separation. Perhaps a fall is inevitable; perhaps there is that in human nature (which is a puzzling composite of the immortal and the death-bearing) which must, of necessity, drag and imprison that which is highest and best in us; I do not know. But I do know that from the heights to which you led me and this not explicitly, nor even accidentally, your intent I lapsed in fairly short order. Fool that I was, I did not grasp the great gift of your love, and pined away for what would have been little more than a drearily conventional romance, given my limited understanding of things when we first met. But He Who formed you and Who formed me saw fit to order this world differently. He spared us both such a terrible and empty fate, as it seems to me, and so has brought us to a deeper, more profound love and appreciation of Him and of each other, precisely through Him and through each other. To those who do not grasp these subtleties, this will sound faintly blasphemous, as do all mystical expressions of truth to those with ears for facts and for facts alone. I understand now that the only truly tragic and heart-breaking period of my life, when I was truly in soul-pain and in danger of spiritual death, was the time before I came to love you. And I grasp, only now and only in part, that far from being the peak and climax of my life, such as it has been, meeting you all those years ago was in truth the beginning of my life; I never lived before I loved you. And so, given that time and space are mere contingencies, I will make so bold as to argue that chronology is irrelevant, and that my entire life since I met and came to love you has been little more than a preparation for meeting you again. Which is to say, the first meeting was intended to prepare me for the next one; all the intervening period was necessary, to test and try and build my soul, to make me sufficient to the task. When our correspondence resumed after its long abeyance, one of our frequent promises to each other was "no past," meaning, as it seemed then, that there would be no regrets for what had happened. However, I see now that there was more truth in those words (your words, not mine) than I had suspected but this is always the case with you; as an instrument and reflection of Divinity, there is no possibility of exhausting nor even discovering all the truth that is in you. In truth, I have had no past; as a living soul, I was born when I found you. My beloved and beautiful friend, in and through whom I see only beauty and goodness and truth, I greet this New Year with an optimism the likes of which I have not felt since the day I first laid eyes on you. Every day spent loving you is a day well-spent, and I have never ceased to love you, and so I have you to thank for a lifetime of happiness.