Those that are close to me know that Kierkegaard has become a dear friend to me (similar to Finzi in this way – I feel as though he is a friend, though he crossed over long ago). Many of my recent thoughts, decisions, paths, and brambles have been at the behest of Mr. Kierkegaard (1813-1855).
Current reading has been Works of Love, composed in 1847, which some consider to be the central work in Kierkegaard’s entire authorship. I am nearing the end of it and came across a particularly poignant paragraph (amid numberless poignant paragraphs!) It seems poignant to me because as of late sometimes I am finding myself to be a listener, a comforter, and supporter of a few people that are really “going through it.” The “it” could be death of family, horrific past memories, slavery to this and that, etc. When I came across this excerpt, I really think speaks to these times – times we all know and experience! And, now, Søren:
“Yes, God be praised, love abides! Whatever the world takes away from you, though it be the most cherished, whatever happens to you in life, however you may have to suffer because of your striving, for the good, if you please, if men turn indifferent from you or as enemies against you, if no one is willing to admit acquaintance with you or acknowledge what he nevertheless owes to you, if even your best friend should deny you – if nevertheless in any of your strivings, in any of your actions, in any of your words you truly have consciously had love along: then take comfort for love abides.
“What you knew with love will be consoling to remember, more blessed than any sort of achievement any human being could have accomplished, more blessed than if the spirits had been submissive to you; it will be more blessed to be remembered by love! What you knew with love will be consoling to remember; neither the present nor the future, neither angels nor devil, and God be praised, not even the fearful thoughts of your unquiet mind, will be able to take it from you, not in the stormiest, most difficult moment of your life any more than the last moment of your life – because love abides.
“– And when despondency begins to make you weak so that you lose the desire to will rightly in order to make you strong again, as strong as despondency, alas, makes you strong in defiance of forsakenness; when despondency makes you all empty, changes your whole life into a homogenized, meaningless repetition so that you see it all together but very indifferently, see the meadows and woods green again, see the manifold life in air and water move again, hear the birds singing together again, see again and again the activity of men in all sorts of work – and you know indeed that God is, but it seems to you as if he had receded into himself, as if he were absent in heaven far away from all these insignificant things which are hardly worth living for; when despondency takes the heart out of your whole life, so that you know but only faintly that Christ has existed and nevertheless know with anxious clarity that it was eighteen hundred years ago (now two thousand), as if he were infinitely far removed from all these insignificant things which are hardly worth living for – O, consider, then, that love endures!
“For if love endures, it is equally certain that it is in the future, if this is the consolation you need, or that it is in the present, if this is the consolation you need. Against all the terrors of the future set this consolation: love abides; against all the anxiety and staleness of the present set this consolation: love abides…
“…When we speak this way we speak of the love which sustains all existence, of God’s love. If for a moment, a single moment, it were absent, everything would be confused. But this is not the case, and therefore, however confused everything is for you – love abides.”
It occurs to me this is the love we must strive to have for each other. A love that abides, and so my friends, I listen, support, comfort when I can, and supply the knowledge that even if my love cannot fully endure and be perfect, love itself will endure, and abide. This abiding love has the ability to build-up and sustain your failing heart.