By Adam Penna

The love you talk about doesn’t sound
like love. It sounds to me like sacrifice,
and we both have to admit that love and sacrifice
aren’t the same thing. That would be like saying
a puddle and the sea are the same but they aren’t.
Though each may share some characteristic of the other,
they differ enough to make that difference remarkable.
Only a fool would call the sea a puddle or,
I have to concede, a god, to whom all differences are small.
But you are neither, so I have to ask: Isn’t it true
that, when you fill a glass and drink, it’s foolish,
if the thirst is slaked, to say: No water ever filled
the hollow? Isn’t love like that? And isn’t love a filling,
which must be emptied to be love? Take your lord, for instance,
who had to die to live, so he advises us
to do the same, but he asked in Gethsemane
for the cup to pass from his lips. Now
I don’t know if that means he thought God’s love too big
or he was just afraid his thirst might be slaked entirely,
and then what would he do? I’ve never heard,
but I imagine that a man lost in the desert
(and this isn’t the same thing as a man
who walks into the wilderness to find God; he
is different, a special case) might be afraid to drink his fill,
at first, thinking satiety might end him altogether.
If he revives—should he survive the heat, the wild animals,
the windstorms—he does so slowly and by degrees, so that his body
doesn’t reject the thing it needs. Shouldn’t we be like this?
Shouldn’t we aim to bear all things but pray
that God’s love comes to us slowly and that our cups remain
always half full? A man must know his limits,
and this is what I call humility in me, when I remember
I can only go so far. Perhaps I don’t know everything about myself
or even as much as I should. But the man who knows
might be a demon and trick us to believe he loves us
and convince us all to leave the world and follow him
to where we drink and drink and are never satisfied.
Save me from that. I’d rather feel an ordinary love.

One Response to “A Corinthian responds to Paul”


  1. […] “Breaking the Sabbath,” “What it Means to Be a Disciple,” and “A Corinthian Responds to Paul.” Rate this: Share this:TwitterFacebookStumbleUponRedditEmailPrintDiggLinkedInLike […]


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