Letter to an Unknown Friend

Wim Rietdijk

Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.

Oscar Wilde

For my part, I believe that the aim of science should be to show that no feature of the Universe is accidental.

D.W. Sciama (The Unity of the Universe)

My dear friend,

In these difficult hours, I, a vulnerable, kindred being, send you this sign of my being close to you. Up against tragedy, most of us feel helpless and tremble at the fearful odds of fate.
      At the imminence of World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke the momentous words: "This generation has an appointment with destiny".
      They cause a shudder to run through me, and fill me with awe at the same time. Shudder and awe about the forces that marked evolution by such appointments, age after age. Awe, deference and love with regard to so many who were there, fulfilling what the Immense was using them for as Its instruments.
      My beloved friend, you too have an appointment with destiny now. Not an encounter at which the world is looking on but an even more difficult one. Only a few see your heroism and neither are you carried by common sentiment or myth.
      With respect I address the brave, seriously wounded soldier, in the greatest war of history that, from the days of old Jericho and long before, is raging on, intensely and ferociously, sparing neither sorrow nor tragedy, and not seldom seeming to play dice with triumph and defeat.
      It is the war of evolution, against human failure, ignorance, uncertainty and, ultimately, against inadequate genes, and yes, injustice too, as little by little man awakens from primitivism and darkness.
      In some way or other, the great Strategy could not do without you and me, or without our sacrifices. Therefore, let us stand tall with pride, pride of our tears and scars, and ultimately gaining, not only in human value and stature but in inner strength and certainty too.
      Lonely in a sense, you have been thrown back upon the primal Ground of existence now - something of singular intensity, coherence and power -, of which we still know so little and that has often been obscured by religion and philosophers venturing a host of preliminary and generally inadequate ideas. In modern times of haste, affluence and the homo economicus it even not seldom withdrew from man's scope altogether. But I feel it to be at the very core of life and the march of history.
      Winston Churchill once described an idea about the world that forced itself upon him during an illness: of the many things we experience in life, most tally indeed; but even so, something crucial is lacking from the "puzzle", which can only be filled in by entering another, deeper level of truth and existence. Not even the latter was self-sufficient but had to be completed from an even more basic domain.
      At some junctures it is necessary to attune our antenna to that Domain. Such moment has come for you now. Deep in ourselves we know the lacking Piece to be of an extraordinary dimension, and vital too, if we reject the idea that the Big Bang set off an experiment doomed to failure, flying in the face of Truth in that ultimately, in the moral sense, the Universe does not come up to the mark.
      Then, refusing to believe the world's basis to be unsound, attune to the lacking piece the great warrior had in mind. Pluck up all your courage and do not accept to be intimidated into believing that in the last resort the world is inferior. Primitive in lacking the Instruments for matching the "appointments" inherent to this stage of the human race. Feel the best of yourself to be a part of "the missing link".
      Catch the subtle signal through a pure soul that becomes your antenna and in silent splendour transcends our near-total ignorance as to the ultimate things. Sense the Piece of the puzzle and recognize the words - impressive and tender too - that came to us through an old and often incomplete and distorted book: "... Who does not forsake the work of His hands".
      When I see the sun set over the sea, awake to the great powers of fate, of sorrow and tragedy, of anxiety and breakthrough, of malice and the sublime, then I listen to what has heen called "God's megaphone", an overwhelming voice from the Principles of the Universe, saying:

"I neither play dice, nor can I be outwitted."

Beloved friend, in understanding these words as a promise of integrated truth, wisdom and power, feel your encounter with fate to be much more than a personal ordeal. Let us experience it together as a trial and a test, not only of you but even more as ultimate events passing judgment on the world. On the quality of its Laws and of the coherence of Truth in its highest meaning. What you live through now somehow will evoke an answer. An answer to a question intolerant of any cheap or shallow response: the tribulations that more than anything else bestow quality and majesty on man, and cause him to call from the depth.
      Friend in sorrow, let us see the seven candles of the menora burn before us, quietly, in stillness and splendour, and undergo together the Unspeakable that is emanating. Let us think of that special piece of the puzzle, and of the Quality of the world that started something extraordinary of Itself in man. The majesty radiating from you now may trust upon an answer in kind from what summoned us from the Order of things. Let us call together from the depth, and make up a monument to what we feel deserves one more than anything else. And let us appeal to the Coherence of the primal Ground.
      Try and stand tall in your knowing that answer to be on its way. Feel "Child of the Morning" - the title of an old book - while science about the vital things is still emerging at this dawn of civilized mankind, and trust on the "spark of God" in you as a guide. A guide to the missing piece and its recognition as a shield in the encounter with fate.
      In this spirit I conclude with the words, of an unknown wise man from a long-forgotten book, to one leaving for a distant journey:

Au revoir, fils bien-aimé.

                  Wim Rietdijk

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