Oxygen

Excerpt from Mary McDermott Shideler’s “The Theology of Romantic Love” (quotations from the works of Charles Williams):

Self-sacrifice is thus a lover’s duty; that it may be his joy in no way changes its character as an exceedingly strenuous duty and a terrible joy. It remains easier to answer anger with anger than to alter anger into something else–…“Malice was a much cosier thing than love”–and the energy of anger or malice or injustice can be very great. The only difference between receiving evil impotently because one is unable to strike back, and receiving it redemptively because one refuses to let it rebound, lies in the presence or absence of personal protest. What is gained by deliberate and loving sacrifice is the conviction that somehow, sometime, good will ensue, and as anguish increases that assurance may dwindle to no more than a despairing hope. But no feeling, no awareness or lack of awareness, determines the nature of the operation. The one who is sacrificed continues to be the point at which energies are transformed and transmitted, and, in the divine justice, why should not he, rather than some other, act in this way? Why should he not become…“the oxygen to the mountain-climber. No doubt, if one cylinder were not there, another would serve; there is nothing sacrosanct about oneself; anything might do as well. But if one is required to be oxygen, one had better be oxygen.”

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