Unquenchable Longing

I remember as a young woman feeling liberated by reading these lines in Ernesto Cardinale’s book LOVE:

The girl who dreams most of love, who is burning with love or the desire for love, she who most craves life and romance is the one who has the greatest capacity for surrendering herself to Jesus. She seeks him in her dreams, at dances and in all her loving but she does not find him there.

We were created for love, for a God who is love. And the worst sufferings and the hardest pains of each one of us are caused by love. …

Perpetual longing, the unquenchable thirst for intimacy, the gargantuan appetite for love seems to me the most natural state of being.  Fortunate are the ones who realize early enough that another human being can’t possibly respond to this unrequitable need for love!

The material culture both exploits and re-creates our natural longings – in screaming advertising meant to dupe us into believing a product, a gadget, a glittering thing will satisfy our longing. It all comes at us so fast, we can’t allow ourselves to feel foolish about it before we buy more stuff like an addict no longer inhabiting his own conscience. Food engineers concoct the perfect combinations of salt, sugar, and fat, creating a physical, chemical craving in the very brain, so that you will buy that food-stuff or desire to revisit a particular restaurant chain. Unless we’re up on the research, our brains tells us we deserve a break today and we grab the car keys and go out for another fix, thinking we’re just innocently going out to dinner … again. 

Detail, A Woman Praying, Willem de Poorter

In that prayer that Jesus taught, Jesus acknowledges this longing embedded within us. The whole prayer is one great begging for union. Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial. ( Luke 11:2-4) followed by the directive, ASK.  So I say to you Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

The prayer acknowledges that perpetual sense of unrequited love, the longing, the knowing my love can’t be fulfilled temporally. Your kingdom come! My love-longing as large as a kingdom, can only be acknowledged by asking for the kingdom to come!
So it is good to have learned along the way, that my very capacities for intimacy, my raging sense of longing, equip me for a life of prayer. For what is prayer, really? Prayer is longing for that which can not be satisfied – in this lifetime. As Cardinal said, we are created for love:  love eternal unbounded by time and space.

[Meanwhile, we’ve had our first slices of summer tomato – and that one taste of the kingdom almost satisfies the eternal anquish of unfulfilled longing …]

author with unquenchable longing, with flowers for market

One Response to “Unquenchable Longing”

  1. claire Says:

    Perpetual longing, the unquenchable thirst for intimacy, the gargantuan appetite for love seems to me the most natural state of being. Yes, I agree, and only Godde, it seems, can take the unquenchable, the gargantuan appetite for love… Thank Godde for Godde, no?

    love to you.

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