The Dual Abyss


When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you
--Friedrich Nietzsche

What is an abyss? Simply, it is a yawning chasm, a seemingly infinite and certainly unfathomable depth. For a variety of reasons, perhaps this aphorism among them, the abyss has taken on a negative connotation that it need not have.

The threat or the promise of the aphorism (if true) depends upon which abyss one looks into. Humanity represents a dual abyss--there is an abyss of malice--out of which comes all the depths of evil, thoughtlessness, selfishness, and all the products of fallen humanity. And then there is the abyss of generosity--filled by grace and love, it is the abyss from which all the saints and Saints who do God's will drink their fill. It is an abyss of light, grace, hope, and love. It is the abyss that was opened when the side of Christ, the infinite was opened. It is the abyss that engulfs and swallows the lesser (though still vast) abyss of malice and darkness. It is the abyss of which St. John speaks when he says in John 1: 4-5:

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

The abyss of light is the light of humanity which is Jesus Christ. The darkness cannot encompass. The promise of this light was first seen in the harrowing of Hell in which the dates of darkness were burst asunder and the light of the Lord shone for those who long lay in the darkness of death.

So, perhaps the aphorism is not so much a threat as a law. When one looks into the abyss, the abyss looks back; it would be wise to assure that the abyss one looks into is filled with the light of Jesus Christ. For few things could be better than to have that abyss look back into oneself.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 20, 2006 8:53 AM.

The Agenbite of Inwit and Ulysses was the previous entry in this blog.

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