In deep middle age, a close friend of mine finds himself immersed in a love affair. I find myself a bit (just a bit) envious as I observe the white heat of his intimacy (which I don’t use here in a sexual sense). How can I characterize this intimacy? The question of intimacy as such is important to me, and it seems to me that what he is going through is no more and no less than a conspiracy.
Love as conspiracy; in a society obsessed with political conspiracies we forget that that the original sense of the word was not negative. It meant “co-breathing” in the sense of a radical demanding intimacy. It is only rather recently that it picked up the sense of a group of intimates united for an illicit purpose. But my friend’s intimacy with his beloved seems to be both directed and excludes others not by design but because of its particular closeness.
I am interested in intimacy and its cultivation not only to maintain strong relationships, but because I feel that there is something conspiratorial in the Christian sense of intimacy. There was a time when our Mass was nothing more or less than a conspiracy both in the old and (to the Romans) the current sense. Early Christians were certainly intimate to the degree of sharing the same breath. And in the sense that conspirators promote the aims of the conspiracy together, the aim of the conspiracy can be to promote the radical intimacy that is the living of a Christian life in a community.
I look at my friend’s love affair and I know from experience that the white heat will eventually cool down. But will the conspiracy, the sense of conspiracy, survive? Is a truly healthy intimate relationship a conspiracy? And if it is, can we have a conspiratorial relationship with God?