Monday, December 23, 2019

An AGAPE (Ah-Gha-Pay)

            Immersed in his painting, twenty-five years ago, his inclination was to be dismissive of the unexpected visitors. In the hot August sun of a Canadian afternoon, on the front-deck of ‘Kluane,’ (a friend’s residence on Denman Island,) the young South African had sought refuge in more ways than one. Next to his own property, up the road away, the neighbours were boring a well, and the persistent thump-thump of the machine was simply too much for focus. Besides, he wanted no distractions while working on his large 6ft by 3ft6ins oil painting, minutely detailed and surreal in its contrasts of historically garbed humans, each plotted on the squares of a chess-board, with greater than life depictions of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ in a wood-panelled train-car observing the game, all passing through a sylvan landscape, and all, progressing through a desiccated one. The still-wet canvas had the painter deeply involved in the yoking together of the variables of his past.

            And then, she stood there. Instantly, as they looked at each other, there was an accord, an understanding that there would be unconditional, utter, and complete acceptance. Thirty years his senior, she was a sprightly and altogether younger looking sparkling blue eyed blond; he a bearded and rugged thirty-something. And the year was 1993. And the years, twenty-five of them (at the date of this writing,) were yet to pass. Indeed, their friendship was instant.

            That late afternoon of their first meeting, while she stayed on the coast-side property of her war-bride cousin, a few kilometers down of the artist’s own property, he kayaked to her vista, and she saw him from the cliff top, and he parked the kayak up above the tide-line, scaled the rocky cliff, and sat in the lawn-chair, chatting. And she loved him, and he her, in the way that people do who have an instant sense of their commensurate way of being, their connection that goes beyond age, or sex, or even background. The details of each other’s lives slowly filled up conversation, filled up their constant letter-writing, filled up thought and care and became a constant stream of consciousness that filled up much of their continuing history. He was, indeed, twenty years later, to fulfill his promise to be her amanuenses. Her colourful, painful, and rich Memoir was fundamental to their communion.

            We each have friends like that. We each have experienced that Greek sense of AGAPE, a love that “embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance.” It is an entirely selfless feeling at best, wanting nothing but the best for the other. While the details of the other’s life can be intriguing, interesting, absorbing, we care more for the very spirit of the compatriot. While age, and looks, and circumstances of wealth and possession can be attractive, we care not so much for these things as we do for the feeling we experience with the other. The connection runs deep in the veins, in the arteries, in the very soul.

            Twenty-five years later, that friendship not only remains, it has grown and evolved, deeper than a well, more reliable even than a well, it proves to be the very life-source of a sense of profound accord and care and compatibility. And so it shall always be. It is a persistent thump-thump revitalizing the heart’s core. Always, so long as either shall live. By it, the yoking together of the variables of one’s past is a constant; we each grow by the years, and although there may be fulcrums around which we turn the pages toward new chapters, we know, always, that the footnote to our progress is made up of the love we experience along the way. Such is the power of agape. Such is the beauty of a pure and Platonic and everlasting love.


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