I thought I would post another one of those incredible quotes from Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. In this quote, Orleanna Price is reflecting on the loss of one of her children, her marriage to the angry and unstable Nathan, and on her darkest day in the Congo. In doing so, she reflects on fate in general.
“Maybe the tragedy began on the day of my wedding, then. Or even earlier, when I first laid eyes on Nathan at the tent revival. A chance meeting of strangers, and the end of the world unfolds. Who can say where it starts. I’ve spent too many years backing over that muddy road: If only I hadn’t let the children out of my sight that morning. If I hadn’t let Nathan take us to Kilanga in the first place. If the Baptists hadn’t taken upon themselves the religious conversion of the Congolese. What if the Americans, and the Belgians before them, hadn’t tasted blood and money in Africa? If the world of white men had never touched the Congo at all?
“Oh it’s a fine and useless trail to try to fix destiny. That trail leads straight back to the time before we ever lived, and into that deep well it’s easy to cast curses like stones on our ancestors. But that’s nothing more than cursing ourselves and all that made us. Had I not married a preacher named Nathan Price, my particular children would never have seen the light of this world. I walked through the valley of my fate is all and learned to love what I could lose.”
The ending here sounds like a Psalm. And like the Pslams, I’m struck by how essential this is to the human experience. We all are learning to love what we can lose – what we can lose at any moment, without warning. Things and people, even ourselves at our final demise. Because of this transitory nature of reality, we tend to temper our love. Best to not get too attached.
It’s true, from one perspective. Attachment can be unhealthy. But love we must. Love can’t be denied. It’s what we need, as much as water or oxygen. It is the essence and stuff or our spirits.
To love then? Yet to fully embrace the fact that we can at any moment lose the object of love? Perhaps what we learn is that love is deeper within us than the object or the person….I walked through the valley of my fate is all and learned to love what I could lose.