My friend Alexander was “executed” and reborn today. One journey over, one begun.
This was not an impulse decision. It was a long, arduous venture into the depths of spiritual mystery.
I’m as religious as a lump of lead, yet somehow Alexander brought me along with him, through it all.
My part began with music — specifically this music. Then Alexander carried me along, though history, art, humor, more art (lots of art), personal struggle, philosophy, tears, synchronicity (lots of synchronicity), and general wonders.
I was privileged to play a small part in an enormous adventure. Many thanks, all thanks, to him.
So for Alexander, and anyone else who knows that truth and beauty can’t be separated and that it’s an error to try, here’s a passage from the close of one of modern fiction’s (and filmdom’s) most famous feasts.
I can’t say I believe these words. But I can hope they’re true.
“Man, my friends,” said General Loewenhielm, “is frail and foolish. We have all of us been told that grace is to be found in the universe. But in our human foolishness and shortsightedness we imagine divine grace to be finite. For this reason we tremble …” Never till now had the General stated that he trembled; he was genuinely surprised and even shocked at hearing his own voice proclaim the fact. “We tremble before making our choice in life, and after having made it tremble again tremble in fear of having chosen wrong. But the moment comes when our eyes are opened, and we see and realize that grace is infinite. Grace, my friends, demands nothing from us but that we shall await it with confidence and acknowledge it in gratitude. Grace, brothers, makes no conditions and singles out none of us in particular; grace takes us all to its bosom and proclaims general amnesty. See! that which we have chosen is given us, and that which we have refused is, also and at the same time, granted us. Ay, that which we have rejected is poured upon us abundantly. For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss have kissed one another!”*
* From “Babette’s Feast” by Karen Blixen (writing as Isak Dinesen), 1958. It’s the story of a single meal prepared by a silently enduring French housekeeper/cook, in a bleak Puritan atmosphere. The 1987 Danish film of the same name won Best Foreign Language Picture Oscar that year and is such a beloved arthouse classic that Alexander was able to send me a gorgeous boxed set from Criterion (best restorers and respecters of old films) that included a booklet with the story, after discovering we had the movie in common.