“You are a sensible soul, aren’t you? Marie?” her farther asked looking up from the pile of books opened on his oval wooden desk. The man’s tired but gentle brown yes flashed as his heart beat faster in anticipation for his daughter’s answer.
Marie, standing still in the door way, looking down at her feet which were stuck into a pair of black leather shoes, whispered: “All souls are sensible father. Even those who cause tremendous pain to others. They too are sensible for their vile deeds come from too much sorrow. Some are lonely, others feel betrayed, and a great many are fearful. All are sensible souls, father.”
Her old man turned on his chair towards the child. Her green eyes painted with a dash of fluid grey looked at her father. The man was wearing a black jacket and trousers and a white shirt held at the neck by a black tie with burgundy stripes. His expression was tired and a trace of some sort of panic could be seen in his gaze. “Are you upset because of the funeral? If that’s the case, you shouldn’t be. Death is natural and some say quite beautiful…” he stopped himself from delving too deep into that line of thought. After a brief pause, the man continued on the same soft tone: “Your grandmother had a long and fulfilling life.”
“I am not upset because of the funeral. I am not afraid of death. Quite the contrary: it is life that scares me…it terrifies me. So long and troubling only to end so quickly and bizarrely.”
Her father looked at Marie’s eyes. There was a hint of surprise in his reaction which could be noticed from the gentle upward tilt of his head, almost as if he wanted to ask how did this young girl, of only thirteen, had such an insight into the human condition.
However, he decided to treat the question with the outmost seriousness: if Marie was capable of thinking beyond the end of life on Earth, surely her inner being was shaken by something strong enough to push the child to gaze into the abyss.
There was however the matter of her innocence which still remained intact: metaphysical turbulations have never been an indication of a loss of innocence; quite the contrary, such conflicts might be the result of too much purity.
“Life? Life is terrifying. That I know. You are right. Here,” and he turned slightly over his desk and gestured above the opened books, “the world’s history lays open before my eyes. I have studied it for many years now and I have found nothing in it but wars, tragedies, simplifications and more nonsense, all explained by useless abstractions that conceal that thin but very real essence of life. Yes, you are right: if there is one common thread that goes through all these events and people is that life is indeed terrifying. But why is so?” Marie looked at him with calm eyes. “Because we, my sweet child, are without Truth.”
Slowly approaching her father, Marie asked with panic in her voice: “We are? Why is that? Who has hidden the Truth from us?”
Outside, the coming night scattered the noise and the motion of the day. A deathly silence, typical of heavy dusks, veiled the city. As Marie walked forward, she tilted her head up slightly: a bright dash of orange that mixed with a dark pink opened up like a wound on the murky sky. Her father too turned his head to see where his daughter was gazing. Without taking his eyes from the wounded sky, he replied:
“The Truth hasn’t been hidden from us, my dear child. We have turned away from the Truth. And I will tell you how. I will, for I have spent my life trying to find the Truth and only now, when I heard the question coming from your heart, have I realised that to search for the Truth is futile – the Truth, Marie, shows Itself to us.” Her father turned towards the child who took her eyes off the bright opening in the sky and looked at him attentively. “Understandably, we were afraid – of us, of our minds, of our deeds, of our foolishness. We trusted ourselves too much, we permitted the best of us to fall into the trap of certainty and progress, to search for explanations, steering away from the natural rhythm of life. Marie – we live artificially.”
“And how can we get back to living the right way, father? Can we find the Truth again?” Marie asked with a tremor in her voice.
A cold breeze came into the room from the opened window. The sky was now darker, without any colour on the blackened vault. Faint stars and a pale, transparent moon were hanging sadly in the distance.
“What were the last words that your grandmother uttered to you before she passed away?”
Marie thought for a moment and then whispered with confidence: “Love is the way, the only way – that’s what she said; but the way to what?”
Her father got up and closed the book underneath which other books were still opened. Its title was written with golden letters on an old green cover: On Being and Essence by Thomas Aquinas. The man kneeled next to Marie and gently placed his hand on her left shoulder. Staring kindly into her eyes, he spoke: “The way towards the Absolute. The way towards Truth. Love is the way.”