Thursday, November 15, 2012
Is there such a thing as a soulmate?
Any time you can start a blog entry with a Dilbert comic, it is a good day.
My original reaction to this question, frankly, is of course not, what a silly question. But then as you think about it you realize just how profound the question really is. I'm going to be a little more personal than is typical, because in the end I don't actually know the answer!
I am very happily married to a beautiful woman named Catherine. In a certain sense, it seems like we are 'perfect' for each other, like made for each other. "You complete me", kind of a thing. I sometimes think, what would happen if she died, or if in some parallel universe I had the opportunity to marry someone else, what kind of person would it be? And I quickly realize that in truth, there is no one out of the thousands of women that I know that I feel better suited to.
But I also realize that this is in part because Catherine made me the guy that I am. I believe strongly in simplicity- that we have a moral responsibility to live simply so that others may simply live. Evidence for this conviction is seen in the clothes I wear, the car I drive, the way I decorate my house, the kind of vacations I go on. Catherine and I share these values, and so there is very little tension in them. Honestly, I know very few women who would be happy to furnish their homes with free second hand furniture so that they can give more money away!
But I didn't care that much about simplicity until Catherine convicted me of it. This, I believe, is one of the ways in which Catherine and I are sanctifying each other, as is the purpose of marriage. (Purgatory is sanctifying, so when I proposed to Catherine I said "Will you let me be your purgatory?" and she replied "I can't think of a better man for the job." JK.)
My suspicion is that God is a lot less deliberate in the functionings of the world then many people think. Everything that happens is within his 'permissive will', but not necessarily his 'active will.' God allows a great number of things to happen without causing them. This makes a lot more sense out of suffering, I think- or at least it dismisses the notion that all suffering should make sense!
So I think that while God blessed my idea to marry Catherine, I might just as easily have remained single, become a priest, or even married another woman. This respects my free will.
But then there is that troublesome word, 'vocation'. Vocation literally means 'calling', and so if my vocation is to be Catherine's husband, than this implies that God called me to that. Another comic strip comes to mind, (couldn't find it), where in Fox Trot Jason is playing football with Marcus. Marcus says "Go deep". Jason "What is the relationship between fate and free will". Marcus "Too deep."
There's also the problematic idea that God knew each one of us from before time. In Michelangelo's depiction of the creation of Adam, you will notice that under God's mantle looking over his shoulder is Eve. The mantle is deliberately shaped like a human brain, indicating that even as God created Adam, Eve already existed in God's mind.
I would love to dismiss the whole idea that God knew me from before time, and had a plan for me as being just pious rhetoric, and not actually the teaching of the Church. But Pope Benedict XVI recently said "Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed. Each of us is loved. Each of us is necessary."
Here's the thing.... if each of us is willed, necessary, and known from before all time, including my daughter Lucia, doesn't this imply that from before all time Catherine and I were destined to be married?
On the other hand, chances are that each of us has at least one sinful copulation in our lineage. In other words, we are all the result of sin, somewhere down the line.... did God predestine the sin?
You can dismiss some of this with the whole "God is outside of time", thing, but there is still the apparent deliberateness of vocations and of each of our existences.
I suspect that a clue to the answer may lie in the existence of imaginary numbers, but that is probably beyond the scope of this little blog!
So in answer to the question "Is there such a thing as a soul mate?" I have to say "Of course not, don't be silly.... but maybe."
PS. Don't you love mysteries? I have a sneaky suspicion that if someone had all the answers this would prove that they were wrong.
Posted by Peter van Kampen at 8:40 AM