Entering the Twofold Mystery

Forthcoming in January 2022:

What is love? What does it mean to love? Few questions are more urgent. A poet of our times gives an answer that repays consideration. Only the lover, writes Elsa Morante, can know. 

Alone the lover knows.
If you love not, I pity you!
The myriad lives will seem to you then
but common and cheap
Like the sacred Host to unconsecrated eyes.
Only the lover has eyes to see the splendours of the Other,
With access to the house of twofold mystery:
The mystery of sorrow and the mystery of joy.

We often hear it said: ‘love is blind’. It isn’t true. Infatuation is blind, like any passion. But love is not. Love sees. It is alert to what a person might become. Indeed, it generates becoming. It causes seeds to sprout. The lover, says Morante, traces splendour where another sees dirt. What is the Sacrament held high in a monstrance to unhallowed eyes? A piece of bread, no more. Likewise, if we do not love, the world we inhabit, and the lives that touch ours, seem pointless and dull. Love alone makes us capable of mystery. Love sets us free from our confinement in ourselves. It brings about communion. It gives itself and knows how to receive. 

What the publishers say: ‘Erik Varden published The Shattering of Loneliness in 2018. Now, with the world in the throes of uncertainty and turbulence, he helps us interpret the signs of the times, convinced that the perennial experience of monks and nuns has much to teach us. The principles of monasticism have become attractive to many, awakened as we are to the importance of integrity, the pursuit of peace, asceticism as a path to freedom, hospitality, and contemplative seeing. After a deeply personal introduction, Varden invites us to consider what makes a monk. He then takes us on a pilgrimage through the Church’s year, drawing on Scripture, tradition, and literary and religious figures of our time. Varden lets the reader discover the generous breadth and depth of a monk’s outlook on life. In so doing he provides inspiration, enjoyment and enlightenment in equal measure.’