(37) Fire 37

Active flux.
Quietly surely,
Showing in the dark abyss.
The element of congealing;
Thus it can make itself
A flaming aloe.


Light must reconcile itself with darkness.
They caress each other so gracefully
That only the highest and most subtle beauties are revealed.
I would be afraid of the blinding brightness of pure light
Without the depths of the unknown.
Mysteries are still left undressed,
And we can find new ways to become even more naked.
When we can see our nakedness
Then we can face God unashamed.
I might try on a garment of shame;
See how it feels and looks to others,
Or in my reflections.
But, then I will throw it off
So that I can rub against you
More naked.
Raw nerves.
Pure feeling.
Love cleanses our bodies
Of all superfluities
Like doubt;
This process is repeated again and again
Until nothing is left but pure soul.
We merge into one through mutual attraction
Without clinging
Until the garments we call our bodies
Melt away in the fire of old age and decay.
Let that fire burn fully
Until nothing is left to smolder.
I pity those whose lives are only acrid smoke.

Fire and burning seem to be recurring themes in my love poetry. The burning is the feeling of passion and lust, but it also represents the unveiling and deepening process that happens in a love relationship.

Max Scheler states that each of us contains a unique "Ordo Amoris" (order of love) that is the essential core of our personalities. The Ordo Amoris is what determines the values of an individual. It is sometimes distorted by a synthesis of influences from experience and/or the body. This essence or soul is created by God and is involved in determining the destiny of an individual. Scheler defines "destiny" as the focus that a person has (or should have) in order to fulfill his/her purpose in his/her life. He distinguishes "destiny" from "fate" by the amount of influences from experience which are layered over the Ordo Amoris. Scheler also says that it is possible for one individual to show another his or her destiny, thus implying that one could see into another's soul or Ordo Amoris.1 I think this is part of what I am trying to say in my poem: that through the intimacy of love, the lovers gain deeper and deeper insight into the very soul of the beloved. If Scheler's intuitive feelings are correct, the closer one gets to the Ordo Amoris of another person (or even themselves), the closer one gets to the creator; for "all loving is actually loving God" and the Ordo Amoris is God as reflected in the individual. If one loves in the way of a sensualist, one would not be concerned about loving anything beyond the body of one's beloved, but a spiritual lover loves the body of the beloved and then goes beyond the body's limits by focusing on the essence contained within.2 I believe that nothing of the eroticism, that sexually stimulates the lover, must be lost because each deeper level is like getting more undressed for each other. My poem implies that there is hope that the unveiling will never end; even after death. It is certainly possible that the deepening process I have described could occur for persons who have maybe experienced physical love but have chosen to renounce all forms of physical love for the spiritual as perceived within themselves. Such are the great ascetics who sometimes have very erotic relationships with God without the aid of another human lover. It seems to me, after much discussion and rereading of Plato's Symposium, that Plato saw Socrates as an ascetic. "Diotima's steps" show that there should be a renunciation of each step before moving on to a higher step, eventually reaching the source of all Beauty. The source of Beauty is theoretically incapable of love because, according to Socrates, love can only be of the good that one lacks and the source of all beauty and goodness cannot lack beauty and goodness, and, therefore, cannot love.3

I could force a different interpretation of Diotima's steps and say that they could be describing the deepening process between two lovers that could even occur within a single act of love-making. The lovers reveal their souls to each other through the most subtle interactive movements. Their souls can seem to fly as they move into an ecstasy that seems to change completely the world they share. They find the source of all beauty (or God) in each other. However, this God reciprocates love because it beholds another form of itself. If love must be created by lack, God could still love something in order to gather parts of Himself back into Himself. God must love the Soul because He needs the Soul to be complete. The Soul is a part of God and in its essence is every bit as beautiful. Martin Buber says, "You know always in your heart that you need God more than everything; but do you not know too that God needs you - in the fullness of His eternity needs you?"4

1 Scheler, Max. Philosophical Essays; Northwestern University Press; 1973.
2 Ibid.
3 Plato. Symposium; n.d.; rpt. 1948; Macmillan Pub. Co.
4 Buber, Martin. I and Thou; McMillan; 1978.

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