Finding love trapped in a maze

  • July 11, 2013

“Why am I alive and on this Earth? Why doesn’t anyone care about me? I can see why nobody cares about me, but why must I end up alone? What’s the point of my life?” These questions are interspersed through my friend’s conversation, as though looking for an answer but not really expecting one. It’s just as well, as I have none, none.

Suzanne has a compassionate heart and deep sense of God. She knows her sufferings matter, but sometimes finds herself stuck in them. She’s trapped in a maze, seeking someone at the centre, hearing his voice but not knowing how to get to him.

Not all of us are as clear as Suzanne, but questions echo in every human heart. At times we ignore them and get on with work, fun or escape. Sooner or later, though, they crop up. We hit a wall, or the wall hits us, as with Suzanne.

There’s one answer to all questions. Though it’s the real answer, it often seems pale and faded compared to the vivid urgency of the questions. It’s packed into one word. One Logos.

Is that word any use to Suzanne? Can it get her through the maze to find Someone at the centre?

If asked what Christianity is all about, would you use the word “love”? How could you not? Christianity is the way of love. Somehow that life-saving knowledge, so urgently needed by humanity, is oft tucked on a dusty shelf. It’s as though we were handed the elixir of life and absent-mindedly crammed it in amongst the junk pile under the stairs. E.M. Forster reflects this oddity in his novel A Passage to India, describing a Hindu celebration with Christian missionaries present. Hand-printed on a sign among the people is this fundamental Christian message, rendered: “God is love.” Is our precious Gospel proclamation just words without meaning, words we write and speak without any idea what they are, no way to help us when we really need it — as Suzanne so desperately does in her dark night of depression?

That may be the biggest sin of all: letting love be word alone, word without flesh, without spirit, passion or sacrifice.

When I have courage to pray, I notice how often my “loving” actions are really other things thinly veiled — selfishness, fear, control. I see my quick reaction of saying something cutting to someone I love or making decisions that benefit me rather than another. Why do I behave this way? I can’t undo the hurt, however small or large. I’m fortunate to have St. Paul as company: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).

Centuries later, Paul’s cry was echoed by another Christian: “I’ve suffered an extreme pain through not having loved enough.” A remarkable sentence. Blessed Marie de l’Incarnation gave all she had to found the Quebec Ursulines. Through her dedication and service to native Canadians and European immigrants alike, how could she, of all people, suffer pain from not loving? She lived love. Perhaps that’s why she could recognize the source of her pain — the source, really, of all pain.

What would happen if we were to seek love in all things, claim love as our birthright and destiny, wrest it out of our pain and recognize it flowing in our joys? We might find ways to alleviate suffering and improve lives. We might be more fulfilled. We might see that when we abandon love, we’re lost and wandering, sick and sad. Without this cornerstone, we don’t know how to diagnose our ills.

The month of July is filled with saints who dare to claim love. The astonishing love-unto-death of young Maria Goretti. The love-in-agony of Kateri Tekakwitha. Mary Magdalene’s love-stronger-than-death. The wonderful Martha, who knew how to love through service, but was challenged by Christ to go deeper, beyond sisterly strife, to the love of being-with-God. For this is love, St. John tells us: not that we love God, but that God loves us. Love is divine. It’s our way to become like God.

Like these women, let’s take the risk.

Suzanne can’t thread her way through the maze to reach the One who loves her, nor climb the walls, nor stop wanting to reach Him. She might find that her quest to receive love, and her quest to give love, are one and the same. She may discover the Beloved not outside but within her, leading and guiding her search.

You are needed, Suzanne. This is what I most need to show you, if I knew how. Your love is needed — the real thing, open to the point of bleeding, to the point of making you like God, revealing God in the flesh, on Earth, where we live now.

(Marrocco can be reached at