Every action is a losing, a letting go, a passing away from oneself of some bit of one’s own reality into the existence of others and of the world. In Jesus Christ, this character of action is not resisted, by trying to use our action to assert ourselves, extend ourselves, to impose our will and being upon situations. In Jesus Christ, this self-expending character of action is joyfully affirmed. I receive myself constantly from God’s Parenting love. But so far as some aspects of myself are at my disposal, these I receive to give away. Those who would live as Jesus did—who would act and purpose themselves as Jesus did—mean to love, i.e., they mean to expend themselves for others unto death. Their being is meant to pass away from them to others and they make that meaning the conscious direction of their existence. Too often the love which is proclaimed in the churches suppresses this element of loss and need and death in activity. As a Christian, I often speak of love as helping others, but I ignore what this does to the person who loves. I ignore the fact that love is self-expenditure, a real expending and losing and deterioration of the self. I speak of love as if the person loving had no problems, no needs, no limits. In other words, I speak of love as if the affluent dream were true. This kind of proclamation is heard everywhere. We hear it said: 'Since you have no unanswered needs, why don’t you go out and help those other people who are in need?' But we never hear people go on and add: 'If you do this, you too will be driven into need.' And by not stating this conclusion, people give the childish impression that Christian love is some kind of cornucopia, where we can reach to everybody’s needs and problems and still have everything we need for ourselves. Believe me, there are grown-up persons who speak this kind of nonsense. And when people try to live out this illusory love, they become terrified when the self-expending begins to take its toll. Terror of relationship is [that] we eat each other. But note this very carefully: like Jesus, we too can only live to give our received selves away freely because we know our being is not thereby ended, but still and always lies in the Parenting of our God....Those who love in the name of Jesus Christ... serve the needs of others willingly, even to the point of being exposed in their own neediness.... They do not cope with their own needs. They do not anguish over how their own needs may be met by the twists and turns of their circumstances, by the whims of their society, or by the strategies of their own egos. At the center of their life—the very innermost center—they are grateful to God, because... they do not fear neediness. That is what frees them to serve the needy, to companion the needy, to become and be one of the needy.
Arthur C. McGill
Moving on, while he wondered, the dark through which Mr. Lecky's light cut grew more beautiful with scents. Particles of solid matter so minute, gases so subtle, that they filtered through stopping and sealing, hung on the unstirred air. Drawn in with Mr. Lecky's breath came impalpable dews cooked out of disintegrating coal. Distilled, chemically split and reformed, they ended in flawless simulation of the aromas of gums, the scent of woods and the world's flowers. The chemists who made them could do more than that. Loose on the gloom were perfumes of flowers which might possibly have bloomed but never had and the strong-smelling saps of trees either lost or not yet evolved.Mixed in the mucus of the pituitary membrane, these volatile essences meant more than synthetic chemistry to Mr. Lecky. Their microscopic slime coated the bushed-out ends of the olfactory nerve; their presence was signaled to the anterior of the brain's temporal lobe. At once, thought waited on them, tossing down from the great storehouse of old images, neglected ideas - sandalwood and roses, musk and lavender. Mr. Lecky stood still, wrung by pangs as insistent and unanswerable as hunger. He was prodded by the unrest of things desired, not had; the surfeit of things had, not desired. More than anything he could see, or words, or sounds, these odors made him stupidly aware of the past. Unable to remember it, whence he was, or where he had previously been, all that was sweet, impermanent and gone came back not spoiled by too much truth or exact memory. Volatile as the perfumes, the past stirred him with longing for what was not - the only beloved beauty which you will have to see but which you may not keep.Mr. Lecky's beam of light went through glass top and side of a counter, displayed bottles of colored liquid - straw, amber, topaz - threw shadows behind their diverse shapes. He had no use for perfume. All the distraction, all the sense of loss and implausible sweetness which he felt was in memory of women.Behind the counter, Mr. Lecky, curious, took out bottles, sniffed them, examined their elaborately varied forms - transparent squares, triangles, cones, flattened ovals. Some were opaque, jet or blue, rough with embedded metals in intricate design. This great and needless decoration of the flasks which contained it was one strange way to express the inexpressible. Another way was tried in the names put on the bottles. Here words ran the suggestive or symbolic gamut of idealized passion, or festive night, of desired caresses, or of abstractions of the painful allure yet farther fetched.Not even in the hopeful, miracle-raving fancy of those who used the perfumes could a bottle of liquid have any actual magic. Since the buyers at the counters must be human beings, nine of every ten were beyond this or other help. Women, young, but unlovely and unloved, women, whatever they had been, now at the end of it and ruined by years or thickened to caricature by fat, ought to be the ones called to mind by perfume. But they were not. Mr. Lecky held the bottle in his hand a long while, aware of the tenth woman.
James Gould Cozzens
If you're reading this, I hope God opens incredible doors for your life this year. Greatness is upon you. You must believe it though.
Germany Kent