Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On whose terms?

"'Yes, but how long could I endure such a life?' the lady continued passionately, almost in a frenzy. 'That's the most important question. That's the most painful of all my questions. I shut my eyes and keep asking myself: how long could I endure that way of life? If the patient whose sores you were tending should fail to respond with immediate gratitude, were on the contrary to start tormenting you with his caprices, neither valuing nor acknowledging your humanitarian services, start shouting at you, making rude demands, even complaining to the authorities (as often happens with the very sick) -- what then? Would you continue to love, or not? And -- imagine, to my disgust, I already know the answer: if there were anything that could immediately dampen my 'active' love for humanity, it would be ingratitude. In other words, I work for payment, I demand instant payment, that is, to be praised and paid with love for my love. I am incapable of loving on any other terms!'"

Ignat Avsey, translator, Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Karamazov Brothers, page 71.

"I am eager . . . ." Romans 1:15