Posted by: Dan | October 17, 2004

Love and the Art of Narrative

In everyone there sleeps
A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make
By loving others, but across most it sweeps
As all they might have done had they been loved.
That nothing cures.

– Philip Larkin

Not that long ago I was thinking about the creation of the heroic within narratives, biblical and otherwise (I think I was reading Dostoevski's The Idiot at the time; David James Duncan's The Brothers K would be a more recent example of what I'm talking about here).

In my journal (May 15, 2003) I wrote:

It is always the narrator who creates the heroic. It is the narrator who presents the ordinary in the extraordinary light. Therefore, any of us may yet be heroes were our stories only told. For this is how stories differ from our lives; in one we discover heroes, those we can admire; in the other we discover ourselves, in all our pettiness and malaise. We are neither strong enough to be heroes or villains. Rather we are poorly written secondary characters who appear for long enough to be slightly repulsive and quickly forgotten.

Or so it would seem if it were not for one thing – God. God is the master narrator. It is he who has crafted this world, it is he who will also one day recount the true and real story of our lives. There is yet hope that our lives will be far more significant than we can imagine.

Yet here's the thing. Our lives gain significance not in discovering that we were heroes all along. Our lives gain significance in discovering that, all along, we were Beloved. You see, the narrator is not some distant omniscient observer. The narrator is our Lover, himself entwined with the narrative.

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