Girl Disappointed in Love
With mercury we measure pain
as we measure the heat of bodies and air;
but this is not how to discover our limits–
you think you are the center of things.
If you could only grasp that you are not:
the center is He, and He, too, finds no love—
why don’t you see? The human heart–what is it for?
Cosmic temperature. Heart. Mercury.
It’s difficult to decipher the meaning of this poem. I’m still working on the ‘mercury’ part. But these lines cut me to the core:
You think you are the center of things. If you could only grasp that you are not. The center is He. And He, too, finds no love—why don’t you see?
As a single person, this is not terribly consoling—a far cry from the usual platitude, “Don’t worry, there’s someone out there for you!” Instead, when I lament, “I cannot find love,” Christ says, “Neither can I. I thirst”.
At first it feels like mistakenly confiding in that one friend.
Yet at a second glance, Wojtyla’s words challenge us to re-center ourselves in Christ and make our loneliness fruitful. Jesus felt the loneliness of the human heart (temperature, mercury and whatnot) so that even our loneliness for love finds a home in Love.
I imagine offering Jesus our loneliness is a way to pray with him during his Agony in the Garden. He begged, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me” (Matt 26:38). I am vigilant when I lift the cries of my heart to the wounded heart of the Lord. I sleep, like the apostles, when I fall into self-pity.
I don’t know what all this means. I don’t know what will come of it. And it certainly doesn’t make loneliness feel okay. But I trust the Guy knows what he’s doing. For, cometh the Resurrection.
Read more about John Paul II’s poetry by visiting PBS Frontline’s Interview with Lynn Powell.