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He and his college roommate became lovers. After graduation, they separated, they led different lives, and he did not see his former lover again. When he learned that his former lover, whom he had loved and who had loved him, was dead, the immediate image that came to him was:
The sheets of both their beds, stripped from their beds and piled in a tangled heap on the floor, the sunlight through the room’s window shining on the sheets.
He remembered the courses in philosophy they had taken together.
A friend said to him, “When you try to be metaphysical, you become pretentious.” And he sensed in that accusation all the learning he had had in logic, in epistemology, in ontology become suddenly an affectation, the learning of his years in a Jesuit college, as if his desire to answer the questions, “What is reasoning?” or “What is apprehension and how does one see the universal in the particular?” or “What is the essence of being?” had no relevance, were questions that had no meaningful answers, so, being meaningless, must not be asked.
But as a student he believed in philosophy, a belief he had shared with his roommate even before they became lovers, and that philosophy’s ultimate meaning was proof of the existence of God. He had followed the reasoning from causality, followed, as if up a long, long ladder, the reasoning from causality up the to the top of the ladder to the Uncaused Causer, the One God in whom all originated and all was, up to where faith required a leap higher than the ladder, a leap higher than reason, a leap into the unknown.
He leapt and he fell.
His former roommate, his former lover, caught him in his arms.
In the Summa Theologica, Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote: “Incorporeal things, of which there are no images, are known to us by means of their relation to sensible bodies of which there are images. And so when we understand something about incorporeal things, we have recourse to the images of bodies, although there are no images of incorporeal things themselves.”
His former roommate, his former lover, gave him faith beyond reason: in the miraculous occurrence, beyond reason, of Everything All Together, of which apprehension could not come from experience, for no one had the experience of everything, but had a “sense” of everything.
To believe this “ sense” of everything as proof of Divinity, a Loving Divinity who inspires in us the “sense” of Everything Together—
That the Loving Divinity, Loving the World, gives us the vital “sense” of the World, and in that “sense” inspires in us Love for the World.
To sustain the Love, by keeping the Love centered in an image:
The body of his lover, the naked body of his young and beautiful and haloed lover, within a sphere, a celestial sphere, a Divine Sphere, ordered by the gentle immortal impulse of blameless Love.
© 2009 by David Plante
David Plante is the author of the novels The Ghost of Henry James, The Family (nominated for The National Book Award), The Woods, The Country, The Foreigner, The Native, The Accident, Annunciation, and The Age of Terror. He has had stories and profiles in The New Yorker, and features in The New York Times, Esquire and Vogue.