This sentence of Camus in 1939: “To better serve men, keep them at a distance for a moment. We are in Granville for a few days with our friends Anne and Bernard. Sweetness of their welcome. But suddenly the crowd of this long weekend in the streets oppresses me. Where to find, not necessarily solitude, but the distance necessary for living together? There is only a desert for me, only a loneliness that we go through like an ordeal and that throws us like a thirsty fish into public life. Jesus tearing himself from the desert where the Spirit had literally thrown him to extract him to the madness of giving, of exposing his life to others.
Our friends’ terrace overlooks the bright and moving bay of Granville. With off, the shade of Chausey where we promise ourselves to go one day. The sea is implacable in strength, in beauty. From the steel gray clouds, rays of light bounce off the waves of the tide. A very small girl looks up at the birds above us. Everything is silent before this liquid block which sucks up and reflects the slightest splinters. A tiny veil in the distance traces its route and draws in space this necessary distance which makes us love and serve the world. In this distance, invisible friends call me. Where is the madness of the world, the madness we fear and love? Is it this splendor in the sea or the wound of its absence when we turned our back on it? So much light and shadow would harbor the absurdity of the world. White and black clarity as if we had to mend what is divided and torn. Impossible task, but I believe that we often call impossible a thing which is only a contradiction if we don’t think it, if we don’t make the effort to cross it to reduce the distance it puts between us and the world, and others. We are out of breath. That is to say, we cowardly prefer, out of ease or despair, not to respond to the Spirit who throws us into contradiction. Now contradiction is the very expression of the life which hopes and watches. To remain alive and attentive to the strange, sometimes threatening sweetness of the world, it is perhaps this vigilant sleep of which Saint Bernard speaks in his commentary on the Song of Songs (5, 2): “I sleep and my spirit is awake . I would have liked to speak to you, my friends, but I let the silence speak for us. Humility of the creature before Creation. Mute prayer. “My silence to God speaks”, affirmed the mystical poet Claude Hopil, unfortunately ignored in his time (17th century).
Summer is coming, and its crowds, and its heat, but we fear that we have entered the winter of the world. Under the sun, the waters of the sea darken. Our human task, my friends, is to remain friends in heartbreaking situations. Small incurable scars that the waves make appear fleeting and liquid. Solitude and sharing must thus be balanced and erased. True pessimism or true cowardice is to outdo the violence, the cruelty of the world around us. If there is tragedy, it must lead us to the elucidation of the enigmas and not to further destruction. A hard-to-solve riddle illuminates us with a dark and promising sun like the one falling on the moving sea. Each risky step in the ordeal gently brings us out of the mourning of each day. The same little girl with us suddenly holds out an empty hand in the sky. She doesn’t try to grasp anything but, I believe, sketches a tiny salute to the fading light. As if a very small life of less than a year made the sign of an impossible promise but found the moment of a timid salvation.