The Intermezzo of Life

Life happens in the middle of things. It is the intermezzo that thickens and creates conditions of transformations for good or bad. The middle is not balanced tranquillity. It is a kind of uncomfortable balance that is awaiting a storm. We can describe this uneasy calm as Chaosmos, the term used by James Joyce for a creative and disruptive calm. It is not a safe harbour. It is a calm that has a promise to keep. It is also a promise that may not be kept. It can go in any direction. It can keep the promise or break it too. We can understand its power through thinking that moves beyond our habitual either/ or mode of thinking. We have the challenge to think together with the two binary polarities and snuff out its impulsive dialectical power. To destabilize its binary logic, we have to keep the two poles in a juxtaposed condition while denegating the negative pole. This means thinking together both the polarities, we open the thought to something that we cannot see coming. Either or thinking thinks only the possible while opening the binaries of thinking leads us to a no man’s land, to unforeseeable impossible consequences. Such thinking thinks in the coming. It does not reach the safe shore of closure. It is always on the way. It is always in the middle of things. It is an intermezzo.

We feel called/interpellated/ addressed into being. We are addressed in the middle of life. This call is an intermezzo. It makes us Ex-tatic. We dance to its tune. It is like receiving a postcard. But we do not always know from where it has come. It interrupts and disrupts our life. It calls us to keep the promises that we have not made. It opens the gaps in our life and solicits our response. There is also a time when we receive a call that turns our life all together. We can only say ‘here I am’ / Amen to this call. It says come. Its call stays in the coming. This is why the call that is addressed to us/ the call that haunts us can be said to have come from God who is ‘I am who I am’. Such a God is present in his coming.

The middle ground of life, the intermezzo is the Khora. It is where the play of life/ spacing and timing of life happens. In fact, Khora does take us to the limits of life. These limits of life are in the middle of life and not just at the beginnings and the endings. This is where the master myth and the myth of the masters reside. We need to revisit our master narratives. Sometimes we think that these master narratives and the narratives of the masters are inscribed in the Scriptures and our faith traditions. It gives them sacral authority. Often we draw upon them and become closed. We close our mind and conscience to our insensitivities, hate drives and heartlessness. It sometimes draws monstrosity out of us. Hence, we have to enter the intermezzo of life. We need to bring the Word of God and our fidelity to Christ and his Church to illumine our steps. In the power of the Word of God and the Sacraments, we have to allow God to deconstruct us and open us to the impossible that we cannot see coming.

We cannot read and do philosophy/ theology within a closed anticipated horizon. A closed horizon can only give us anticipated thought. It can only be repetitive and not novel. It is deductive and not open to leap into the abyss and cast into the deep in search of the new and troubling. But we are brave enough to let our faith embrace the unfamiliar and the one that we cannot see coming. This means like St. Paul, we walk by faith and not by sight. Thus, we have the courage of faith to open things up. Do a bold reading of the Scriptures to welcome the other that is coming. The other is our neighbour as well as the wholly other, our God. God is the axial point/ the middle point of our life. Yes, we can come to God in the middle of our life. We do not need a zero point to come to God. We do not have to clear the mess and make way for God. God is already before/ with us. Our God is Emanuel. God is constantly coming to us. We have to face God in the intermezzo of our life.

The middle that we are talking about is not the middle of Aristotle. Aristotle’s middle tames the extremes. To it, the excess is vice and virtue is the middle. The middle that we are talking about is an intermezzo. Intermezzo is music in the middle of a performance. If life is a song, there is an interlude/ intermezzo. It is in the middle of things that we find ourselves here and now. The middle exists in the now time. We do not need pure arche/ pure origins nor final destinations. We have the challenge to do away with these prefix as well as postfix. This means we have to give up our pre-closures and post-closures at least for some time. When we face life as it comes, we can meet God that comes in the Bible, in the teachings of the Church and community of our believers. we live by putting our lives in the hands of God. Bracketing our pre-closures/ fore-closures and post-closures can open us to what God has to say/ unsay to us. God is a dissident God. It is not fully possible to free us from anticipatory bias. We can only put these anticipatory bias into a bracket or keep them under erasure. Keeping it under erasure will keep us open to the new modes of discipleships, modes of prayers, ministries and missions to come otherwise we may be trapped in the Heideggerian temptation of living with the mythology of the homeland of Being and of being’s mother tongue which may be far removed from the catholicity of our faith.

This is why we may have to bracket the master myths and the myths of the masters that do enter the interlude of life and convert our living into a nostalgic coming home. Such a life is nothing more than a narcissistic egology. We have the challenge to love that takes us to the other that call us into being. Love takes us to face the face of the other. We can find the face of God in the face of the other who is lonely, invisible and marginal. We need to pay attention to the intermezzo of life. The intermezzo is power-packed. It is fertile and can produce rich fruits. But it belongs to the order of chaosmos. Hence, we have to discern and order it towards the nimble dance of God that we find in the spacing of our life.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao