Love Never Dies again
“But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, p. 107, HarperCollins 1927.
In his Foreword to The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Russell Banks reminds us that at the memorial service in New York for British victims of the attack on the World Trade Center, British Prime Minister, Tony Blair read these closing sentences of Thornton Wilder’s novel. We want to be remembered by those we love. We want to tell them about those we loved such as our parents and siblings and grandparents that they may not have known.
I think that Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians and Wilder in this novel, each is telling us that the best of this love we have for each other never ever dies. This is a mystery, but I know in my heart it is true.
Today would have been my mother’s 97th birthday. We did not always appreciate each other, but today I feel her love. My parents died before I was ordained a deacon and before the birth of any of our grandchildren. They are not physically here, but their love still surrounds us and each of them. All of the people in this picture at my parents’ wedding are dead, but I so often feel surrounded and lifted up by them in prayer and love.
There are days I feel love whose only source may be from the God of love, but at other times I sense a love from specific individuals who have died.
I think of the group of women that I have been reading books with once a week for more years than I can count. Wilder’s was our most recent journey we undertook together thanks to the recommendation of one of our members, Lisa Brandom. I feel the love of each of them every time we meet. One friend reminds us that she would keep coming if we were only reading the phone book. I now know that I will feel their love even in years to come when for many reasons we can no longer meet.
Love is all we have to contribute to this life that will be lasting. Love is all we will carry with us into the life of the resurrection. Love is the bridge between these two territories.