And wherever we may be;
We live in the same world;
Are touched by the same sun;
Alive with a common humanity,
In which we are one.
then signify getting together?
Or does it mean being one?
Does it need to be created?
Or does it need to be discovered?
story of the dialog is the story of separation of two people in the midst of
a political crisis
superimposed by a personal crisis. This makes up the frame for the story.
The heart of the story goes deeper. It unfolds as a spiritual exploration of
the nature of unity without distance.
Oh, it is true what people say, that it never rains but pours when one is not prepared for it. Fred had arrived on our doorstep that noon, holding in his hand those urgent orders for me to go to Germany to contact Steve, to urge him to query his contacts in Russia about the Russians' reaction to the unfolding financial crisis in the West. The urgency of Fred's order had made my fears even more real to Sylvia, and so they added another weight to the tragedy of her own situation. She had to deal with the possibility that the financial system might break down while I was out of the country. With Fred's promise to stay with her she appeared to sense that she wasn't abandoned and alone at the most critical moment in her life while struggling in hospital undergoing major surgery.
In the way that Fred spoke to her I began to recognize that he was actually fighting with himself to acknowledge that the principle that fulfills the needs of the many has indeed no value if it doesn't fulfil also the needs of the one, whereby the fulfilling of the needs of the one become recognized as a key element in fulfilling the needs of many. Fred didn't speak about this directly, as evidently the weight of the recognition was still unfolding in his mind, even while the spirit of it became increasing evident as he tried to assure himself that by supporting her critical needs he was indirectly fighting in support of our larger mission that could not be allowed to fail. It seemed that he took the challenge on as something that he stood not as powerless against as in the big arena, but could 'sink his teeth in' to make this work by taking the sting of pain out of an exploding crisis.
"It is vital for us to know whether the Soviet Government is inclined to hit us with a nuclear strike when the chips are down in the West," said Fred gently in an effort to give her a sense of the severity of the crisis and the urgency of my task. He handed her another envelope. It contained a civilian airline ticket for a Lufthansa flight leaving 7:00 A.M. the next morning. He explained to Sylvia that he didn't know that she couldn't join me on the mission.
Sylvia started to cry, quietly, bitterly. "This can't be happening," she uttered between a stream of tears. "I'm undergoing the biggest medical procedure in my entire life, tomorrow."
She turned to me. "I need you to be with me at my side. You can't go away, not tomorrow."
"I can't hand the mission back to Fred," I said quietly. "I can't turn my back to the whole world for the seriousness of the situation." I explained the reason why it was serious, and critical also for her own life too.
"Send somebody else, please!" she said to Fred.
Fred sat down beside Sylvia and shook his head. "I wish I could," he said, "but there is nobody else in the entire world who can do this mission. Pete knows the people. They trust him. I wish I had a dozen people like Pete, who could take on these kinds of missions. But I only have one. We have to struggle through this together. I can't stop the world. I wish I could. All that I can do is stay with you and support and help you in any way I can. I am urgently needed in Washington, but I'll stay here with you. I'll do this for you, though I probably shouldn't be away from Washington in this time of crisis."
"I have urgent needs, too," Sylvia replied, crying again.
She turned me. "Can't you understand my situation too? I'm facing a huge medical procedure that will put me under the knife for four hours. I'm scared of what might happen."
She turned to Fred. "And now you want to take Pete away from me too, and for what? Can't this be done by phone?"
Fred shook his head. He began to cry, too. He understood both sides, and I understood his, but all this apparent understanding didn't prevent all three of us from crying. We all knew this couldn't be handled by phone.
"The President's advisors have already urged the President to launch a preemptive nuclear strike," said Fred, when the tears had subsided. "His advisors are determined to force the President to prevent the Soviets from taking advantage of the financial disintegration in the West. It took all the diplomacy that a number of people and I could muster to persuade the President to hold back until the results from this mission are in. In this war of nerves a single day is critical. Thank God we have this connection that Pete established with Steve. It may have bought us one more day to the prevent the worst."
Fred turned to Sylvia, "We've got no options for this reason. Pete has to go. If Pete won't go, I don't know what will happen. He has to be on the first commercial flight tomorrow morning. He can't go by special transport. This would tip them off, which might put Pete in danger and spoil the whole mission. This, then, would wreck our last hope."
"Isn't it possible to delay the surgical procedure by a day or two?" I interjected. "Can't this be done for national security reasons? A word from Washington can move mountains. Can't something be done along this line?"
Fred shook his head. "Getting Washington involved like this would be like erecting a billboard on Times Square advertising your secret mission," Fred replied.
After a while Sylvia stopped crying. We both packed our bags. Fred stayed around and organized something for dinner to give us time for one last walk together before the sunset.
The next morning's parting was a sad occasion. Sylvia was half-asleep still when my time came for me to leave. We didn't even wake Fred, who stayed in the spare bedroom for the night. We both wanted to be alone for this sad farewell. We kissed and wished each other well with a gentle kiss and a smile. I knew that by the time I would be in the air, her surgery would begin. She soon fell asleep again. She didn't have to get up for another half-hour.
The weather was clear that day. Luckily I had a seat by a window and on the side of the aircraft from which I could see the hospital where her greatest trial was about to begin, probably at the same time that the plane flew by.
As Fred had promised, he, and also Tony, would have brought Sylvia to the hospital by then in my stead and have remained there with her. I felt grateful for their doing this for Sylvia. A friend of her also promised to be there with her. Still, I should have been there too, being with her instead of flying away. I felt like a traitor. I was leaving her alone in the most critical hour of her life. I had tears in my eyes when I could no longer see the hospital from the air that had been visible only for a few minutes. Soon the city itself receded into the background of the world.
I pressed my face tight against the window to look as far to the rear as I could, but minutes later there was nothing of the city left in view. All that I could do was lean back into my seat after that and close my eyes to be with her. I realized that in spirit I could be there with her. And so I was. In spirit I was not running away. I knew that physical distance isn't really an obstacle to thought, and the zero-distance reality that we had begun to experience towards one-another. In thought we could still touch each other. I remembered her smile and her kiss of the morning's farewell. I remembered Helen's lateral lattice of hearts where no one exists outside the universe of the bonds of Love. "Oh God, take care of her," I prayed in the shadow of my far too feeble understanding of the principle of Helen's construct of the lateral-lattice imagery. However, one aspect of what Helen had told me about her experience in observing the lattice coming to light, suddenly jolted me. Helen had seen in this lattice the principle reflected by which the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many, by which her friend's needs had been supplied in his critical period of a similar manner, likewise during surgery.
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