RADIATION OF FATHERHOOD
By Fr. Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) • 1964
For there are three that bear record
in heaven, the Father, the Word, and
the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
And there are three that bear witness
in earth, the Spirit, and the water,
and the blood: and these three agree in one.
1 JOHN 5
PART I. ADAM
1. “I”AND METAMORPHOSES
For many years I have lived like a man exiled from my deeper personality
yet condemned to probe it. During those years I have toiled unceasingly
to reach it but have often thought with horror that it was disappearing,
blurred among the processes of history, in which what matters is numbers,
mass. All this is connected with the name Adam given to me. Through this
name I must encounter every man; at the same time everything in this
name that every man contributes can be made commonplace or even be
devalued. I have a difficult name. How often have I thought that my
footsteps should be wiped out, that I had to obliterate myself, so that I
could identify with every man whose history is written by the crowd. Is it
written only from without?
The thought constantly returns that I ought to find myself in every
man — searching not from without but from within.
[Many people enter. Haphazardly and chaotically, they fill the
space around Adam. He does not turn to them immediately but
feels their presence]
Here are the people who emerge from the gates of the steelworks...
They wear workers’ overalls and leather jackets.
Here are the passersby: they overtake me at the street corner without
looking in my direction.
Here are those who find their way home and quietly shut the door
behind them or slam their garden gate.
Some look back intently; others do not even turn their eyes.
All of them pass by.
Everyone carries in himself an unrealized substance called humanity.
This is connected with the painful experience of so many generations.
Can one hide in it? Or on the contrary, should it be brought out of hiding,
like an object one admires or despises? O humanity, which can be filled to
its upper limit or weakened to its lowest! What distance separates those
“I” and the metamorphoses of so many people. I face this always.
I decided to place one man apart and make him a common
denominator for all men, letting him be present in all yet not be any of
them. Then I had a good look at that man and recognized him: it was
They all pass by.
I look toward those who have gone away, having fallen in the battle. It
is true that we all fight — but are we all soldiers?
I look toward those who approach. Is it true that through my fault
“approach” means the same as “draw near to death?”
2. THE ANALYSIS OF LONELINESS
I find it difficult to think about this.
Although I am like the man who can be placed apart and made a
common denominator for all men, I am still lonely. It is easier for me to
feel lonely than to think about death. Nobody calls loneliness a sin, and I
find it easier to feel lonely than guilty of sin. But I know who Adam was
and who he is. He stopped once on the frontier between fatherhood and
loneliness. Who cut him off from men; who made him lonely in the midst
of them all? What if he became lonely of his own free will? What if he
became lonely in order to graft that loneliness onto others? Can he say
today, It is easier for me to feel lonely than guilty? After all, he made
himself lonely in the midst of them all because he made them lonely.
“Ah,” he said then about himself, “I could not bear fatherhood; I could
not be equal to it. I felt totally helpless — and what had been a gift became
a burden to me. I threw off fatherhood like a burden. For that matter, was
I to be a father, or would people merely associate me always with the idea
of the Father?”
He is lonely, I thought. What will make me more like Him, that is to
say, independent of everything? Ah, to stand apart from everything, so
that I could be only within myself! I should then be closest to You. I later
said to Him, complaining, “You could have left me in the sphere of fertility
(I would somehow have reconciled myself to nature) without placing me
in the depths of a fatherhood to which I am unequal! Why did You plant
it in the soil of my soul? Was it not enough that You had it in Yourself?
“Well, what if people had multiplied out of me, what if they had
peopled the earth? You could have left me apart from them. There would
have been an ‘outward Adam’ to flourish and grow and an ‘inward
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Adam,’ a lonely one. Why ask that he allow the radiation of Your
Fatherhood to enter him so that he can refract it as a prism refracts light?”
If having formed me of clay, You had said: Clay, go on forming, I
would have formed many a thing. You know best the staggering
temperatures of kilns where clay is baked — You for whom the entire
computation of atoms is the simplest intuition, not a compilation of
figures and formulas. I would surely pluck out many more things from
Your intelligence and implant them in my world — calling, It is I, it is I,
that is true — but that world would be Yours anyway. For what am I?... I
who am transient all the time. With every step — not with every
generation now but with every step — my life is breaking off...and
constantly begins anew.
Did You have to touch my thought with Your knowledge that means
giving birth? Did You have to touch my will with the love that is
fulfillment? I cannot give birth in this way! In me love never fulfills itself.
That is why You were disappointed in me. Did I not call from the start,
“Leave me my loneliness”? I know I called in spite of myself. But even
more in spite of You.
I will say more: I have decided to throw the word “mine” out of my
vocabulary. How can I use it when I know that everything is Yours?
Although You yourself do not give birth with every human birth, still he
who does give birth is Yours. And I myself am more Yours than mine. I
have learned that I must not call what is Yours mine, must not say, think,
feel it to be mine. I must free, divest myself of it; I must not have or want
anything of my own (“mine” means “own”).
Is it really so?
I am afraid of the word “mine,” though at the same time I cherish its
meaning. I am afraid because this word always puts me face to face with
You. An analysis of the word “mine” always leads me to You. And I would
rather give up using it than find its ultimate sense in You. For I want to
have everything through myself, not through You. To want this is
nonsense, but haven’t many other people harnessed themselves to serve it?
Thus the thought never leaves me that You have been disappointed in
me. When I give birth, I do it to become lonely among those born, because
I pass on to them the germ of loneliness. In the midst of a multitude, are
they not more and more lonely? Numbers do not engender love, and
loneliness rather engenders strife than makes one in dependent. Just
think, I have not known, even for a moment, the fulfillment that is in You!
Can I ask, after all this, that You forgive me for executing my plan with
such obstinacy? For continually evading Your Fatherhood and gravitating
toward my loneliness, so that You must reveal Yourself as if in an external
vacuum? But I am only a common denominator of all men, or a common
word that can be put outside the brackets.
[Again in ADAM’S space the same people appear who were there
before, but they come nearer, as if they wanted to surround him]
Leave me! Do not always find your way to me! I am only the common
denominator of you all — do not try to find anything else in me!
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An association with the idea of the Father — between the upper
borderline of man filled with humanity and the lower one of humanity
destroyed in man, this always remains: association with the idea of the
Father . . . association with the idea of the Father.
[The people surrounding ADAM step back a little but do not
3. THE THRESHOLD CROSSED BY WOMAN
Because You execute Your plan. You are determined and Your plans are
irreversible. The strangest thing always transpires in the end: that You are
never against me. You enter into what I call loneliness, and You overcome
my resistance. Can one say that You force Your way in or only that You
enter through a door that is open anyway? You did not make me closed;
You did not quite close me. Loneliness is not at the bottom of my being at
all; it grows at a certain point. The fissure through which You enter is far
deeper. You enter — and slowly begin to shape me. You shape and
develop me in spite of what I imagine about my ego and about other
people, yet You do it in harmony with what I am. This I cannot deny. Yet
can I wonder that You are stronger in me than myself ?
You want me to love. You aim at me through a child, through a tiny
daughter or son — and my resistance weakens. Nothing remains of the
loneliness with which I resist You. You, however, express Yourself deeply.
Gradually I cease to feel that You express Yourself in me, and I begin to
think that I express myself in myself. And it is always so until love gives
pain, the pain caused by lack of fulfillment, a lack of my ego in the beloved
or of the beloved’s in me . . . But precisely at that moment one sees most
clearly that man cannot reject from his consciousness the word “mine.”
This word follows him all the time, and he goes where it leads him. And
this word cancels loneliness.
The Woman has entered loneliness. She has entered and enters all the
time. I see her following in the path of all people, who keep asking for me.
I, however, direct their attention to her and ask if they know her. They
grow silent then and begin to look toward her. In her, new life has been
conceived. So she walks with extreme caution. Even from outside she tries
to enfold the Being she carries in her womb. She is a Mother.
[Everything ADAM describes happens as he speaks. The people
scattered in groups in ADAM’S space turn their eyes toward the
WOMAN, and when she has passed by and disappeared from
view, they begin to move in the same direction. After a while, all
are turned away from ADAM. They look toward her]
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4. BETWEEN MEETING AND FULFILLMENT
After a long time I came to understand that you do not want me to be a
father unless I become a child. That is why Your Son came into the world.
He is entirely Yours. In Him the word “mine” finds complete justification;
it can be spoken credibly by Him. Without such a justification and
credibility this word is a risk — love is a risk, too. Why did you inflict on
me the love that in me must be a risk? And now Your Son takes on Himself
all the risk of love.
How much the word “mine” must hurt when it turns out later to mean
“not mine.” I think with awe about the strain and toil of Your Son, about
the magnitude of His love. How much did He take on Himself? What voids
did He fill? How great is the void He must fill! After all, in all of us the
common denominator of our loneliness remains, and in it, against all the
logic of existence, “mine” still tries to force out “Yours.” Could I too
become a son? I did not want to be one. I did not want to accept the
suffering caused by risking love. I thought I would not be equal to it. My
eyes were too fixed on myself, and in such a situation love is most difficult.
When Your Son came, I remained the common denominator of man’s
inner loneliness. Your Son wants to enter it. He wants to because He loves.
Loneliness opposes love. On the borderline of loneliness, love must
become suffering: Your Son has suffered.
And now there are two of us in the history of every man: I who
conceive and bear loneliness and He in whom loneliness disappears and
children are born anew.
Many people look on Your Son’s life, on His suffering and death; many
have gone the way He takes. I do not stand apart from Him; I do not
oppose Him. I admire and worship Him, but at the same time I resist Him.
I do it to some extent because I cannot afford to do anything else.
Sometimes this is connected with a mirage of greatness. But I find it even
harder to retain a sense of my own greatness than a sense of my loneliness.
In loneliness one can hide and forget. But what am I to do when I keep
falling off pedestals? What am I to do when people tormented by other
people, crucified like Your Son, return and ask the same questions: Where
has the exiled father gone to? Where has the punishing father come from?
[ADAM’s space suddenly fills again with people. They are the
same people who had earlier moved away in the direction taken by
the WOMAN, looking toward her. The horizon has darkened,
and these people, near ADAM again, circle around him and
repeat in a chorus the questions he has just asked]
Where has the exiled father gone to?
Where has the punishing father come from?
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Two thoughts just came to me. The first thought: Fathers will not return to
themselves, so you are not wanted; go, mix with the crowd now, and lose
yourself in it. The second thought: Fathers return through their children;
the father always revives in the soil of a child’s soul.
That second thought brought liberation with it. The hands stretched out
ready to snatch and maybe tear me to pieces — or what is worse, to merge
me with the crowd — turned back. Soon I heard a voice. I heard it before
I was able to see who spoke. It was the Woman, the Mother.
Do not be afraid. This must hurt. It is a pain like the pain of birth. A
woman knows infinitely more about giving birth than a man. She knows
it particularly through the suffering that accompanies childbearing. Still,
motherhood is an expression of fatherhood. It must always go back to the
father to take from him all that it expresses. In this consists the radiation
One returns to the father through the child. And the child, in turn,
restores to us the bridegroom in the father. This is very simple and
ordinary. The whole world is full of it. One must enter the radiation of
fatherhood, since only there does everything become fully real. For at no
point can the world be fiction, the inner world even less than the external
world. Just think! Think, all of you: one must choose to give birth! You
have not thought about this. One must choose to give birth even more
than to create.
In this consists the radiation of fatherhood. It is no metaphor, but
reality. The world cannot depend on metaphor alone, the inner world
even less than the external world.
We return to the father through the child. And the child in turn restores
to us the bridegroom in the father. Do not separate love. Love is a unity.
[The people assembled in ADAM’S space listen with growing
attention. The WOMAN is talking more and more to them and
for them. They are encompassed by a common light — not full
light, perhaps, but low light. ADAM, however, remains outside
its circle. He talks very slowly]
It still seems to me that somehow I evade the substance in which I am
embedded. Man is not only born but also dies, not only gives life but
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also inflicts death. To be able to choose, one must first know all. Can I
say that I know all? No, I cannot say that . . .
[He is silent for a while}
I have found, though, that I am not “lonely.” I am, much more, “closed.”
[The CHORUS is silent]
PART II. THE EXPERIENCE OF A CHILD
[The external situation drawn here is, step by step, an outcome,
or offshoot, of the inner situation. This is most important. The
scenery is at times intimate: a solitary room, whose most
significant piece of furniture is a big armchair. There is also a
writing desk and a bookshelf; a flower vase on each of them. Later
the scenery changes (for this purpose it may be necessary only to
remove the furniture), and we have the edge of a forest. For all the
action in this part has something of wandering or striving about
it: the inner striving finds its counterpart in the external action.
Only two persons take part: ADAM, who becomes a father, and
a child, whom we will call MONICA.]
I. THE ALBUM
Let us sit here in the armchair, under this lamp with its shade, and take the
album into our hands. Here are snapshots from the earliest years. A young
woman is holding a baby in her arms. Its oval face is different now, but the
eyes have the same glee. The history of those eyes: through all these pictures
they remain, more than anything; they unite everything in one stream,
which absorbs more and more traits; in them rests the identity of the soul.
Oh, look! If only I could put this picture into a projector —
here is a girl of two with a huge dog.
The dog was called Arpad; he had a sweet mouth
when he approached the little girl, wagging his wispy tail
and kindly holding out his paw... You innocent little creature,
how obedient all nature is to you; even this giant does not bark —
the first picture.
Now the goat: the projector shows huge horns and a slanting head.
You’re struggling, little one? Not afraid of the horns? The tiny hands
beat with a stick
as if the horns were the keys of an instrument hidden in the goat,
on which, little one, you want to play something, something that is
also in you now —
the second picture.
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The third picture: hens — big hens and little chicks,
among whom you dream away each day in the yard, picking flowers
as they peck at their seed. Then you come in through the French
and they, returning to the roost, pass the night in the henhouse,
while you sleep in a little bed beyond the French windows,
past the verandah, beyond the hall, beyond the kitchen and beyond
You sleep with mommy. Daddy is far away . . .
There is no daddy in this album, nor will he ever appear there.
But is he not like the hidden sun that warms your little body,
oh, here in the fourth picture?
The fourth picture:
you are sitting under a parasol, hiding from the hot sun.
Though the sun cannot be seen in the snapshot, we feel it all around
and in you too.
There are many snapshots in this album — a whole roll of film —
all clipped together in one book and in the book one story:
but the eyes are the same — the soul’s identity.
(The album ends at this point — but I remember what follows.)
When she was still at primary school — I remember her laughter,
the free, girlish laughter — she was called squeaker,
little squeaker. This name was meant to describe her laughter,
which sometimes changed to a squeak — the squeak of a shy
When she was still a little girl, she was more outside me,
though it appeared to be the other way around...
She did her homework in the afternoon, quick at algebra
though she blotched her Polish exercise book, often crossing out
Then geography and later still a drawing lesson —
and at last freedom, freedom: one can run along the long corridor
without upsetting things; one can spin around
without even touching anything; one can squeak...
“Daddy has come.” She creeps up furtively in her soft slippers,
then suddenly tugs at his sleeve and nestles close to him: “Here I
Poor child, I thought, poor child, she will never see her father...
“Do you know, I have a daddy now,” she once confided to her
“Do you know, I have a daddy now . . .”
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2. THE CHILD’S SANCTUARY
My father’s history in me. The beginning is lost in the darkness
of my soul, a child’s, long before the wandering begins
to trace his presence, because first there was absence.
When I was a little girl, I ran briskly on the grass,
I drove hens from the yard, I slept in my little bed with my teddy
then when I had had enough of the teddy bear, I slept with a doll.
In the spring I picked flowers for someone, for someone, for
Daddy was not by me; Daddy was not on earth.
I want my daddy on earth, close, very close to my heart.
I must find him, pluck him out of the still picture,
and from all my hope give birth, give birth, give birth . . .
Many a time I took flowers, and when he was not in the room,
I put them on his desk and left immediately.
He would recognize my presence
from the flowers in the vase near his books.
He would think I am in her heart and look for me in his own heart,
if only for a while.
When I was far away, I would pluck a flower while writing a letter
and put the flower in the envelope together with a sheet of my
for I do not find writing easy and cannot express
what is in me.
But he would know everything from the flower
that the postman brought him with my letter and my thoughts
and, above all, my heart.
Would you believe it?...
If you were not on earth, I would look with pity
on the album of my infant days — that other one would not know
this one would not know her. Everything would be split,
disunified — and yet it does.
My father’s history in me begins with his absence,
yet he must have been there all the time, though I did not feel him at
Perfectly unified with mother, I did not know that he would one day
for he is embedded in me with his roots, like another, parallel, tree
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I have just realized: the double trunk among so many trees
in the forest. What a wealth of boughs and branches and, high up,
everything grows out of one system, out of common roots.
So did father grow in me through mother,
and I was their unity,
that segment of the mass of the tree through which both trunks grow.
It seemed strange to me that I was the thickest segment
(for further on the tree divides into two parallel trunks,
and each of them is thinner).
And so I looked astonished
at the thoughts that passed into me from the divided tree.
So father grew in me through mother — but for a long time I did not
did not feel his absence because his roots were embedded in me.
How I do love you, my father,
my strange father, born in my soul,
Father, you who were born in me to give birth to me.
I did not know for many years that you had grown so much in me;
for so long I did not know your face, your warm eyes, the bend of
your profile —
until the day I linked the immense longing in my soul
precisely with you,
until the day the absence had to become the presence
it had once been.
My father, I am fighting for you. Be in me, as I want to be in you.
Now we are in the forest. The trees climb high.
The last little triangle of light disappears from a sheltered creek
between the isle of branches and the trembling waves of air.
The forest evening, small forest evening, rises to a large evening
that will soon fill the horizon.
When will be spoken what is contained in you and me,
what lies in the depth of consciousness and must wait for words?
Being together, shall we find one day the moments for such words
that bring to the surface what really is deep down;
shall we confirm for every day the existence of what is?
I discover this world in you slowly and all at once:
it is the world of my father — how much I want to be in it!
(A small dark street among trees — and there are many such streets,
running in many directions. Which ones will meet?
I don’t know anymore if you’re sitting in a deep armchair by the
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or stooping to throw more logs on the fire.)
These moments converge continuously. Every one is all-important
because of one common substance, because it reflects
the growth from unseen roots of everything in me
that I am today.
Well, dusk has ripened and total darkness has fallen.
It is hard to distinguish the edges of trees from the
How glad I am that you are here with me. You will sit now in
made of moss.
Soon everyone will come, the fire will burn more brightly,
we will drink tea and eat buttered biscuits
with jam, then we will sing...
How good it is that you are in the world,
because I thought you no longer were, and then I thought, I cannot
yet I have reached you and feel that I have you now.
3. FATHER, BE MY WAY, BE MY SOURCE!
The next day we had to walk through a thicket. At the edge of the
where the magnificent high pine trees end,
and with them the shadows; where the pine trees end,
and with them the litter of needles and moss; where the soft
brushwood ends and a clearing begins lies
the tangle of bushes and shoots through which one forces one’s way
while gathering raspberries or blackberries.
Our way takes us there.
But it is not enough to look from the outside. You must enter.
You know the thicket that is in me: how many people
can believe that none of us
is closed and unchangeable? We only carry in us
the content that outgrows us in its absolute form,
but we are attached to and dependent on it.
Is it true
that fatherhood is only a burden one bears alone —
not a privilege one enjoys by oneself?
And now you: you walk with me. The child’s sanctuary —
who has the right to enter it? Surely the father has
such a right. But I only indicate the Great Meaning.
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You are very shy. That is not yet simplicity,
though you are also simple: when you cannot express something,
when you are ashamed of your feelings, you know how to cry in
You know also how to bring a bunch of flowers and put it on my
desk when no one can see.
Your views are hermetic and grow from first impressions.
You find it hard to stand outside — and so you often feel a stranger,
even among friendly people. You adapt yourself with effort.
You are very ambitious, too; you are dependable to the point of
I look at your features, at the way they are formed. I look at the
impenetrable sanctuary of a child. You have been lulled to sleep by
the overabundance of nature,
which harmonizes with insufficiency in man.
I still remain lonely.
Suddenly a rustle wakes me. I am not lonely, for I tremble.
A glistening, patterned body throbs in the grass,
pulsating with measured breathing. On the beaten trail
rapidly curls up and puts out its tongue.
Obviously something has vexed it.
I am not lonely, for I tremble.
My whole awareness throbs with this one meaning — viper —
that clings to it from outside.
At the same time another meaning appears, which clings from
child. One must protect this child!
I am immensely moved. I know now that something has happened.
But I do not yet know exactly what.
I know that fear has left me. You have taken it all upon yourself.
We are walking toward the forest; I am holding you by the hand, as I
have held no one before . . .
The viper disappeared in the grass somewhere; you must have saved
What are you thinking about?
I was thinking about your father. He gave you life.
Didn’t you give me a new life?
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No. I only took from you
what is His due. Only in your imagination can I be linked
with the idea of the Father. I can be only for you
that Great Meaning . . . Am I able now to give you birth again?
This is the framework.
Fill it; fill it with yourself! You must fill it with yourself!
Do you know how I need you, how much I took from you and am
But my need for you is not the reason. I want to love without any
aiming directly with my heart at a meaning that is both simple and
and in which man is contained, being unable to contain it in himself.
I know you do not love out of need — but we follow the traces of the
that is both great and simple. Can I give birth to you now?
Can you be born of me?
Only an association remain
(though life returns continually to the same old places,
it does not find us there anymore...).
Ah, Child, how deeply painful it is that I cannot give you birth anew —
even though you would not then be who you are now.
And for you
I can trace only from outside that Great Meaning
that we long for with all our human nature,
especially from a certain moment...
“Father, father” — with what Meaning does this
Has not the moment come yet when it could resound
for me with you and for you with me?
We keep walking. A stream is running by; we go uphill, upstream.
Among the pine trees nearby, one can immerse one’s feet in the
water. Do it.
The stream is cool; the water falls quietly down the stones,
its murmur slowly grows all along its run.
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I am putting my feet in the water. What a soothing coolness, what
freshness, what rebirth!
Life enters anew into all my cells.
Ah, as I am being born anew from this forest stream,
I ask: Be water for me!
I ask: Be water for me!
We have come down to the cool stream that runs in the shadow of
the pine trees
No one will recognize our footprints. Water is not stone,
nor is it clay, in which your feet leave an imprint.
Has water left its imprint on you —
or only coolness and a stillness of the body?
We have come down to the cool stream, which
on the gentle mountain slope and in the stately shadow of the pines
has carved out its own bed.
The bank of the stream is both the edge of the earth and the edge of
human thought —
the sight flows here into objects, small trees, and stones at the
We have come down to the forest stream to praise you, the water
that has given birth to man anew, yet we have passed by unaware
of your own goodness.
I praise you, cool forest water, for having saved for me the breath
that I feel so close to my heart: the breath of a child by my side.
I will not move from this place; from this child’s place I will never
I want to embrace you with all my childhood, which you once
traced on the pages of an album . . . Then came the girlish years . . .
I love you for all the yesterdays that did not happen —
and for today, in which yesterday is contained.
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Well, can we contain it? . . . How shall I find your childhood years
in what is now? I will miss them greatly.
All the past converges at this point — suddenly, suddenly the years
You cannot return to them, but they can swell and come again,
flooding your heart. Child, child. How can we enter that flood?
I would enter — with great trepidation — the whole past that moves
and floods the present moment... I would lead you like a little girl,
by the hand. I would then go back and separate by year
everything that is here all at once. How can all this be embraced?
We have come down to the forest stream. Tell me,
are we not here at the lowest point of some strange gravitation?
How can I embrace you with all my child’s being?
Look once more: the stream — you are entering the water, which
keeps falling down from here.
Through the stream do you not reach the SOURCE where everything
Through the stream do you not embrace the SOURCE?
Through the stream the SOURCE EMBRACES ME TOO.
4. THE FATHER AND THE CHILD EMBRACE ONE ANOTHER
BY MEANS OF THE WORD “MINE”
...my child. When I first decided to think of you as my child,
by that very fact I accepted the meaning of the word “mine.”
quite simple yet eternal.
Some words carry weight,
even small words... Such is the word “mine.”
With this word I accept as my own, but at the same time I give
...MY CHILD! My child! “Mine” means “own.”
- 15 -
I do not know how it happened, but I think this word emerged
on the waves of my heart.
The waves of the heart flow over us often in ebbs and tides —
I have felt a wave rise and fall again.
I have even feared sometimes that it would push me over, but now
I am not afraid anymore; I am used to it.
But I like stillness best —
when a huge wave, dormant in its depths,
stands still between the banks of my being.
It is better when the wave is quiet, and only I know it’s there,
for when it moves, I feel again like a reed or bulrush
and feel less strongly the banks of my being.
The banks grow distant then.
Some frontiers break too and in me
strange beings roll, also uncertain of their frontiers.
I dream of a stillness so great that even those strange beings
could emerge on the wave of my heart as if they were my own.
I dream of a great stillness where nothing would disturb
the sense of all that is contained in the word “mine.”
The word “mine” — a tiny, simple word. How long I had to stand
on its threshold. How long I looked into it through all the logic
of existence... This word has an eternal sense . . .
Do you know that we must not accept what emerges only
on the wave of heart until we assume responsibility
for the truth of this word, the common simple word “mine”?
We may return to the heart once we have dealt
with the logic of words. How many of us fear we shall not then find
the warm current the wave of heart carries?
Never act like a blind man who only touches objects
but devises no picture of them. Such a life would be a poor one.
And yet I do not want to belittle anything you treasure.
I shiver at the very thought that I could upset
or undermine something in you . . .
But what emerges on the wave of the heart
should not develop haphazardly, leading into blind alleys.
Every feeling, my child, must be permeated by light,
so that one does not feel in darkness, but in the light, anew.
One must transfix feelings with thought.
(I transform the delicate heart of hearts in which I stay more and
I live there as if it were my own. How many doors has she opened
- 16 -
And if she knew of another, hidden, gate, still closed to me,
she would try at once to open it...yet she is not one of those
who open themselves easily...)
When I think of you as mine, I do not follow myself, only you,
and at the same time I go into myself to find you there.
When I find you, I feel joy. But if I do not find you,
I feel pain, and that is why sometimes I cry in secret . . .
What does it mean? Do I want to take you, to have you for my own?
Well, certainly I do. But I could not . . . and such
possession would even be impossible . . . I want only to pass into
so that you can find me in your heart and then
think “mine” about me . . . as one thinks about one’s own child.
We are born also through choice — then we are born from within,
and not at once but bit by bit...
So we are not born but rather become.
But at a particular moment we may not become, may not be born.
This depends on us. And that is why — bit by bit — I try to find
in the word “mine.” Do you also try to find it, child?
Giving birth begins with unity and aims at unity. In this love
When you were conceived and your mother was to give birth to you,
first you had to penetrate the depths of her body, then to tear
out of it with the first impulse of independent life...
If you are to be born of your father, you must first penetrate
the depths of his will... This is giving birth through choice.
And to choose means to accept what makes my world,
what is in me and what is of me . . . Are you able to accept it?
For already I carry you under my heart and know that I must give
because I cannot think of you as other than mine.
Oh, do not worry about giving birth... I know it is the woman who
Do not fear what I say: how differently YOU ARE GIVING ME
You want to give me birth like this all the time —
to introduce me to what is
- 17 -
and what has not yet come to be (and if it is somehow already,
it is thanks to you). Though born once,
I am also many times unborn and want to be born many times.
Do you know what I used to think? — Poor child, she has lost her
I can be for her the Great Meaning...
I only wanted to signify the father.
Then I did not want to find myself in you. But now I want to.
Now if I am to find you in myself, I must find myself in you.
Do you know that if I do this, you are not altogether free?
For love denies freedom of will to him who loves —
love liberates him from the freedom
that would be terrible to have for its own sake.
So when I become a father, I am conquered by love.
And when you become a child, you too are conquered by love.
At the same time I am liberated from freedom through love,
and so are you;
at last I am liberated from loneliness,
which I do not want to exchange for love.
Child, child. When I become father, I must want
that strange being —
subtle and timid,
bold and carefree,
cheerful and sad,
defiant and immensely vulnerable — to become mine;
I must want that strange being,
you, to be mine.
I must want her to be born of me and ever to grow out of me,
not to be born apart and grow away from me —
I must want this and tremble for it.
I must tremble too because she, being born of me,
will not for an instant cease to be herself.
Thus I have to split and divide myself from herself always,
having both myself in her and her in myself.
And if I have to tremble, that means love for a long time
has met with fear.
Love is always a choice and is always born by choice.
(This is the mystery of the word “mine.”)
If I love, I must always choose you in me,
so I must always give you birth and always be born in you.
Giving birth this way through perpetual choice, we give birth to
(This is the mystery of the simple word “mine.”)
- 18 -
So you see that you cannot be free any more than I.
And you too, like mc, must be liberated from freedom through love.
For there is no giving birth without everything that is contained in
the word “mine.”
And though I would very much wish to stop at the edge, love will
draw me in...
Do you understand this?
5. FATHER AND CHILD ALWAYS FIND ONE ANOTHER
BY MEANS OF THE WORD “MINE”
I cried this morning. I know that my father is sad too.
I feel this sadness very much. Why does it have to be so?
I cried; I was helpless. Can I always want
what he does when I simply want what I want?
My child, beloved child. I cannot spare you tears.
Sometimes I even wait for them. Then I wipe them
and say, “Do not cry. ” What remains is to await a new maturity,
a new unity of will, a common rhythm...
I never doubt you, remember, but test you in myself always.
One must desire together. One cannot escape by desiring,
for then the feeling deceives...and the word “mine” remains in a void
and hurts because of that...for the void of love is the most painful:
when we love, a common current runs through our wills.
From it a certainty grows, and freedom is born again from certainty.
And this is what love means. And then without fear I think “mine”...
Many times father repeated (the autumn abounded in strange
“Too many of the bonds between us are external;
there are too few inner bonds. Ah, child, I know this well —
you live too little in me, though you are so close.”
I said then, “Is it not true that I took from you
so much? Can one take more?”
But those were difficult days. Did I misunderstand you, or could you
not find me?
I decided the fault was mine.
After all, my father, you may look for me
- 19 -
first in yourself, and only later in me.
So I said, “It is my fault; it is my fault only”
(those were December days, which always end so quickly,
turning into evenings almost without dusk),
as if you wanted to say, It is our fault; it is ours. — It is only
From now on shall I live in you?
It seems to mc that you are determined, that you demand radical
Sometimes it is as if you said, I must have been late in you... But I
that it is I who am late. Yes, it is certainly I who am late.
You are patient, however...
When we descend from word to will, what will the word mean?...
The meaning in that brief word “mine” is irrevocable.
I feel that one cannot turn back; one can only find
There was a moment, like a flash,
when I wanted to tear out of myself the meaning of the word
It was only a moment. I knew you would come back. I will clear the
way for you myself.
You will come back and find in me all you have desired,
and all that you are sometimes afraid of... Is it not true that in the
there is also fear?
I will never be only stillness but also storm.
Nor will I be sweetness only; I will add bitterness.
And though I try to be transparent, I will also be a puzzle.
And you will not always rest; sometimes you will be tired because of
Am I truly in you?
Is my world also your world?
Or do you enjoy feeling only on the surface —
the gentle, warm wave flowing through your heart —
and do you not even think
that from that wave you must fish out the whole inner world,
the world I call mine?
The levels of emotion can, after all, slide past each other,
touching whole people, leaving them behind...
There are hours, sleepless nights,
during which I grapple with the feeling
that you are created outside me, that I do not give you birth...
- 20 -
The pain of birth is a joy, but the pain of not giving
birth to a child must be terrible! . . .
There are such hours. Forgive me for them!
Maybe they too serve love.
And do not think for a moment that I would want only myself in
I want you so much, so much,
but always find that secret formula
through which I shall be in you,
and you in me!
Are those not the same hours, the same sleepless nights
during which I also cry, my eyes full of tears.
Why do you sometimes appear so distant, though you are closest to
I realize that you cannot want me to remain outside the truth of your
I realize this more and more.
Gradually I learn through you what it means to be a father:
it means having the strongest bonds with the world . . . So let us
shape that world together!
How precise we must be here, how sensitive and subtle!
But on the other hand: a slight scratch, tiny wounds that hurt a long
then the long healing, then the gentle cure —
understanding, and again determination that seems like vehemence...
but a father finds it very hard to lose, cross out, reject, and cut off
(ah, what a hope in this; what trust begins from here!).
A father finds it very hard to lose, to push out of the field of love!
Fatherhood binds me not only to the child;
it binds me also to myself: I am bound within myself.
And I find it very hard to lose myself in myself. It is not possible.
If one loses faith in one’s own fatherhood (think, child), then only
pain is possible.
But I cannot now cease to be myself together with what binds me
from within —
my burden and happiness — because it has somehow become myself
Father, father, I am here! We have come back from the mountains.
It is lovely. The tents drying in the sun.
- 21 -
Resin drips down the bark, tall grass, a path runs across,
hardly, hardly trodden in the grass. A man can hide
and muse. Discover the depths of other beings and his own —
discover, reach. Reach with what is in me that which is in You.
I am, I am! Please forgive me. I want to bc always.
You must not doubt this. Only sometimes I do not know how.
Do I not want to?... When I do not know how, do I not want to?
No, do not think so! Never think so!
A path through high grass, hardly, hardly trodden...
Your child is here. You see, she will evade the vicious viper.
Your child has presence of mind, senses your world.
But she does not drink fully of that world.
Is this not well, my father? In you there must always be more;
in you there must always be something more...
And then pine trees — the pyramids of shade, the low bushes full of
and the stream.
I walk into the water up to my ankles, up to my knees, up to my
I feel its coolness (I touch the stones underwater);
I feel its coolness, and at the same time —
ah, Father! —
I feel, I feel my body anew
and my soul!
You took me by the hand then
and guided me.
It is not possible now to change that in you and me.
I know. And you know, too. And the rest will come.
PART III. MOTHER
1. CONCERN FOR INNER RADIANCE
Do not go away, child — you eternal child — never go away. Even if you
depart, remember that you remain in me. All who depart remain in me.
And all who pass by have their place in me — not just a wayside stop but
a permanent place. I gather the people whom Adam has dispersed. There
is in me a love stronger than loneliness. That love is not of me. Though I
intend to speak of it, silence here expresses more than speech.
People inhabit an earth that has two poles. They have no permanent
place here. They are all on their way, which leads them from the pole of
loneliness to the pole of love. I love Adam and constantly restore to him
the fatherhood he renounces. I discreetly turn his loneliness into my
- 22 -
motherhood. And this is how people liberate themselves from the heritage
that forms the strangest community — the community of loneliness.
Adam, too, liberates himself from it. I help him leave the circle that binds
him to himself.
Do not think that I inspire him. I am too simple and too tired for that.
I am tired of people, as he is, but in a different way. Adam does not see my
beauty, perhaps does not even know who I am. I entered his history
unobserved. Among the many servants of history I am the least obtrusive.
And I am not the light for those I enlighten but rather a shade in which
they rest. Amother ought to be the shade for her children. Afather knows
he is in them: he wants to be in them and confirms himself in them. But I
do not know whether I am in them — I only feel them in me. And so my
absence alternates with Adam’s presence, while his absence alternates
with my presence. We are present and absent in different ways. If Adam
knew all about me, if he knew the whole truth about me, he would cease
to be embedded in loneliness and see in himself the features of the
Bridegroom, which he is trying to hide.
When I give birth to children, they are not only mine but also his. Thus
I restore to him at least a shadow of the fatherhood that he has renounced
from the beginning, unable to renounce it altogether. And I stay in this
shadow — unobserved by him, unloved. Sometimes he meets me and
asks about the pain of childbirth. But he denies what I reply: our truths
cannot meet. I am not the bride of him whom I love. I am only a mother.
[The upper area of the space in which the MOTHER is standing
gradually lights up. One can see people grouped as during
People who have departed, who have fallen in so many battles — for
life is full of battles — are born anew in me. I am their shelter for they do
not have the full beauty from without, only the need for rest. And I do not
know how it happens that I fill these people with radiance from within.
Or rather I do know, but my knowledge is faith. Faith is also knowledge
— although in its most sensitive point it is not knowledge any more but
expectation. And this is the only radiance I can afford. I instill that
radiance in people who are born of me. It is the true inner radiance
coupled with outward fatigue.
I give birth to people through the fatigue that fills life as well as
through the light that they experience from within. I do not give birth to
them physically, as a woman, though the labor of my childbirth is no less
acute — only different — for it is difficult to join fatigue with light and
light with fatigue. Ah, Adam! Why does he scorn that labor? Why won’t
he believe in the light joined to fatigue, instead of always choosing
loneliness? People born of him live in inner darkness, without
expectations. I am the other pole of Adam’s loneliness. I must constantly
clothe his children in light because they walk naked from within. They
clothe themselves on the outside with an immense wealth of creatures and
of their own work, but on the inside they are naked. Yet they are ashamed.
So they run away, shouting, “I have hidden away because I am naked.”
- 23 -
I know so many women who give birth in pain. Human motherhood
is branded with pain. With pain man pays for the joy of existence. A child
is born naked. When its mother recovers from the pangs of labor, she
bathes it, washing the tiny body to restore its freshness. I take part in all
mothers’ cares, and I desire to bathe every child of this earth, to wash it in
water so that it remains always fresh; we must clothe it on the inside in the
radiance that liberates it from the shame of existence. I ask you, mothers,
to take part in my motherhood.
[Some women emerge from different groups and approach the
MOTHER, who now addresses the Invisible Child resting in her
My little one, I know now that you are alive, because you cry and
laugh in turn. But I do not yet know that your cry and your laughter are
heard throughout the universe. My little one, I want to spare you the
shame of existence, and that is why I say, “Take into yourself the light that
will guide you through Adam’s loneliness and lead you to the Father.”
This is also the moment of my birth, the moment in which I become a
2. RADIATION AND DYING
Although I am always far away from you, still I am near. So listen to me
as I listen to you.
I admire the Bridegroom, yet I cannot transform myself into him. How
full of human substance He is! He is the living denial of all loneliness. If I
knew how to implant myself in Him, if I knew how to live in Him, I would
find in myself the love that fills Him. Love reveals the Father in the Son.
How much he strives for every human being — as for the greatest
treasure, as someone in love strives for his beloved...
Whenever a child is born, I find you anew, Adam. It is you yourself who
are born then, and I come forward to meet you with the light I want to
kindle from within. I approach quietly, discreetly, so that you do not hear
my steps, and each time I tell you, “Adam, accept the radiation of
fatherhood; Adam, become a child.” And each time you are silent. You do
not hear my voice, or rather you do not want to hear. You regard me as an
intruder. Sometimes you wish to drive me away, though I come each time
with love. I love you in every newborn child, and through him I take you
in my arms. You have become a child anew because I am near. The
radiation of fatherhood passes through me, acts through my motherhood.
And you, who have lost the clear vision of the Father, choosing your
loneliness anew in every newborn child, must reconcile yourself with me.
- 24 -
I am near. I am everywhere. I do not know myself how it happens, but this
is so. I join the birth of every man, and through it I constantly meet you,
opposing you every time. Oh, Adam, how tired I am of you. Truly, fatigue
is the measure of our love — and through patience we come into
possession of our souls. You must be surprised at my mindfulness of
every beck and call of your kind. Do not be surprised, Adam!
How does it happen that I see the father in you, even though you reject
fatherhood? That I see the child in you, even though you do not want to
be one? I am afraid I always come at the call of the Bridegroom, though
you never call me with His voice. I hear that voice which brings me nearer
to you, even though it is not you who speaks. You want so much to be
lonely that the words “sister” and “Bride” are strangers to your lips. Yet I
am she. I constantly watch over the quiet flow of life in you; I constantly
bend over it: my substance is the life I give you, though I do not take it
from you. And you know about it.
You know where there is life, there must be a bride, a mother. I am she.
This you cannot contain, but you must be contained in it. My tiny son,
who is also my father: love always outgrows you but never leaves you.
You do not want to be a bridegroom, yet I speak to you the words of a
bride. You do not want to be a child, yet I keep giving birth to you. You do
not want to be a father, because you choose loneliness, but I come to take
it away from you. Love that outgrows cannot cut itself off from its soil.
The soil of our love is every man. But it is the Father who is the Way and
I gather in me the RADIATION OF FATHERHOOD — and the dying
When a child is born, you are born in it anew, and I rejoice in that birth.
At the same time — Adam, Adam — I desire you to die in it. I desire your
death, and in that wish I find the very nucleus of life. Because of that wish,
you bear a grudge against me, and that is why you cannot understand my
love for you. It is a love that outgrows you, and I keep coming back to you
with that love: to you and your children I return with the Bridegroom’s
You resist it.
My Bridegroom does not want to remain lonely in his death!
All this I know. But is it enough to know? I choose loneliness to remain
myself and nobody else. This is what my world is created from.
Do I really remain myself?
Our world is perpetually being created around us: my world that is
our world and our world that is my world. Even as that world develops,
it disintegrates. It lacks what might profoundly unite it, but in it is my
loneliness. Do we not have to envisage the possibility of a total
disintegration of our world?
- 25 -
I gather the radiation of Fatherhood and the dying of fatherhood: in me
they are one.
[She stretches out her arms as if taking the Invisible Child into
them and carrying it before her]
Who is this child?
[The people standing around them light the candles they hold: are
they a procession of MOTHER and Bride — or ADAM’s
[Looks at what is happening but speaks as if he were taking no
part in it, as if he wanted, above the head of the MOTHER and
her retinue, to establish contact with the Father]
Yes, it could happen in the end that You will put aside our world. You may
let it crumble around us and, above all else, in us; then it will transpire that
You remain whole only in the Son, and He in You, and whole with Him in
Your Love. Father and Bridegroom. And everything else will then turn out
to be unimportant and inessential except this: father, child, and love.
And then, looking at the simplest things, we will all say, Could we not
have learned this long ago? Has this not always been embedded in
everything that is?
[He speaks these last words as if he wanted to hand them down to
the people standing around. Indeed they repeat the words after
Could we not have learned this long ago?
Has this not always been embedded in everything that is?
[A moment’s silence, broken by the MOTHER’S voice]
You are wrong, Adam! You are all wrong!
In me will survive the heritage of all men, implanted in the
- 26 -__