Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Love Always Hopes All Things

It's a snowy-sky morning, driving to my Starbucks, when my mind begins to scroll through the tasks and crisis', the relationships and opportunities that are part of my life. A certain kind of confusion and bewilderment ebbs and flows through my brain as I ponder what to do next. Unwanted uncertainty can quickly descend into fearfulness and anxiety. My morning commute is becoming a moment of angst and frustration.

When I left my office Sunday afternoon, I grabbed Kierkegaard's Works of Love - I intended then to read it Tuesday morning (now). A brilliantly insightful book that requires many hours to read a couple dozen pages (I got in about seven pages this morning...). But the work required to digest the writings of Kierkegaard are always well-rewarded. Particularly when what I ingest is connected with what I was obsessing about. What was it I needed to remember?
Love Always Hopes All Things.

But to hope all things in love is the opposite of despairingly hoping nothing at all, either for oneself or for others.

To hope all things, or which is the same, to hope always. Hoping is composed of the eternal and the temporal; the task of hope in the form of the eternal is to hope all things and in the form of the temporal to hope always.

Through the decision to choose hope, one thereby chooses infinitely more than is apparent, for it is an eternal decision (one that dwells in the future, and thus full of possibility).

It is again quite in order to observe that for most men and women possibility and hope, or the sense of the possible, dwindle away with the years.

Hope depends on the possibility of the good.

...everyone who lives without possibility is in despair; he breaks with the eternal; he arbitrarily closes off possibility and without the assent of eternity makes an end where the end is not...

In possibility the eternal is continually near enough to be at hand and yet far enough away to keep man and woman advancing towards the eternal, on the way, in forward movement. In this way the eternal lures and draws a person, in the possible, from cradle to grave, if he just chooses to hope.

To lure means constantly to be just as near as distant, whereby the one hoping is always kept hoping, hoping all things, kept in hope for the eternal, which in time is the possible.

This is what it means to hope all things. But in love to hope all things signifies the lovers' relationship to other men and women, that in relationship to them, hoping for them, he continually keeps possibility open with infinite partiality for his possibility of the good.

Consequently he hopes in love that possibility is present at every moment, that the possibility of the good is present for the other person, and that the possibility of the good means more and more glorious advancement in the good from perfection to perfection or resurrection from downfall or salvation from lostness and thus beyond.

The despairing person also knows what lies in possibility, and yet he or she dismisses possibility (for to dismiss possibility is precisely what despair means), or even more accurately, he or she rashly presumes to suppose the impossibility of the good.

Here again it is shown that the possibility of the good is more than possibility, for when one presumes to suppose the impossibility of the good, the possible dies completely for him.

The fearful person does not suppose the impossibility of the good; he or she fears the possibility of evil, but he does not conclude, he does not presume to suppose, the impossibility of the good.

"It is possible," says despair, "it is possible that even the most sincere enthusiast nevertheless becomes weary, gives up the struggle, and sinks into the service of the second-rate; it is possible that even the deepest believer nevertheless at some time abandons faith and chooses disbelief; it is possible that even the most burning love at some time cools off, chilled; it is possible that even the most upright man comes to a detour and is lost; it is possible that even the best friend can become changed into an enemy, even the most faithful wife into a perjurer - it is possible: therefore despair, give up hope, henceforth do not hope all things in any man or for any woman!" - Yes, indeed, this certainly is possible, but the opposite is also possible.

"Therefore never in unlovingness give up a person or give up hope for him, for it is possible that even the most prodigal son can still be saved, that the most embittered enemy, alas, he who was your friend, it is still possible that he can again become your friend; it is possible that he who has sunk the deepest, alas, because he stood so high, it is still possible that he can be raised up again; it is still possible that the love which has turned cold can burn again - therefore never give up any man or woman, not even at the last moment; do not despair. No, hope all things!"

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