PETAR is not with them. He has gone down into a valley. He has gone for news.
They sit within woodland. It is a copse of birch. They dare not light a fire, but they have bread. They eat in silence. Harold and Razija sit together. They are happy to be close to each other. It is one of the signs. Marisa is aware of this, and it lifts her sadness. She glances at them as she eats, and her heart warms to them. How can it not? Razija is in love. Marisa has no doubt of that. And Harold?’
‘Ah,’ she thinks. ‘Harold is not versed in love. He is a scholar. Even in war he has been sheltered. But love is upon him. He might be hiding in these woods. But love has found him out. Perhaps he will only know it when he is parted from her.’
Now Marisa stares at them. ‘That is a terrible thought. He might be on a boat on the sea, being taken back to his British Army. And then the hurt would come. The unbearable agony would be upon him.’
Marisa decides to speak. ‘I think I will now tell you something,’ she says.
Harold and Razija turn their heads. They had been far away with their thoughts. So far away they could hardly have been closer. But now they look to Marisa.
‘I will tell you something that our Magus taught me.’
Razija’s face becomes alive. There is an eagerness in her eyes. ‘Oh do!’
‘It is difficult to speak of things that he said to me. How can I describe a flower without describing colour? Everything he said had colour, and life, and …’ Marisa pauses. Now she smiles. ‘And love.’
‘Of course,’ Razija breathes.
‘And one day, it was of love that he spoke.’
‘Tell me what he said.’ There is a different note in Razija’s voice. She speaks from her longing to find this Bosnian Magus; the longing that has trailed her and touched her all her adult life. But there is also something else. It is the note of a woman who has found love. Perhaps she might have wanted this Magus to talk to her of Harold. But if not that, then to hear him talk to her of love, of what she now is feeling.’
‘Do you believe in God, Harold?’ Marisa suddenly asks.
Harold stares at her. ‘God?’
‘That is what I asked.’
‘What is God?’
‘Ah, you were right, Razija; he is indeed a scholar.’
‘He is too clever.’
The two women laugh. Suddenly Harold pushes at Razija. She laughs even more, and pushes him back.
‘I will ask you a different question,’ Marisa says. ‘Do you understand what I mean by the word ‘God’?’
‘Yes, of course. Although different people mean different things by that word.’
‘They do, Harold. And do you know why?’
Harold might have answered, but in pushing him, Razija has fallen across him. He cannot bring himself to push her away. He cannot even bring himself to answer Marisa’s question. His entire being seems to be absorbed in Razija’s presence, in the feel of her lying across him, in the closeness of her.
‘I will tell you why,’ Marisa murmurs, not quite looking at them. ‘There are so many views because God is unknowable. When God is EVERYTHING, then all descriptions and definitions fit. At the same time the unknowable God transcends the dimensions we walk in, transcends space and time. Yet all our understanding, and our language too, is defined by space and time. So how can we hope to define that which transcends our ability to think and speak?’
Harold says nothing. Razija has not removed herself from him. And now Harold brings his arm across her, and his hand falls on her arm, and his hand closes gently upon her arm, and deep inside himself he hears Razija sigh.
‘I will ask no more questions,’ Marisa says. ‘But I will speak. The unknowable God IS. The unknowable God WAS. The unknowable God WILL BE. And the ‘WAS’ and the ‘WILL BE’ will always be the ‘IS’.’
She steals a glance at them. Now she will talk of love. She will talk, but they are already deep within it. So what she says will be nothing to what they now are in. For love is unknowable too.
‘You see,’ she says. ‘When we enter into the journey, when we enter into that need or desire to know God, then we seek Union. We seek to be ONE with God. And in your religion, Harold, the apostles of Joshua of Nazareth, who you all call Jesus, wanted nothing more than to sit on the right hand of God. That was their way of talking of Union. Harold, do you know how Union is achieved? Do you know what is the ‘mechanism’ to achieve that?’
Harold turns his head to her.
Marisa smiles, for the look in his eyes is already deep within that ‘mechanism’.
‘Yes, Harold,’ Marisa says. ‘It is love.’
Razija brings her head up. She touches Harold, so that his head comes round to her. Razija looks into Harold’s eyes. ‘It is love, Harold.’
He does not speak. He is deep in a realm that has become precious to him. It is a realm that exists beyond words. He is there. But he does not fully know it.
‘Love connects us, Harold. That is what the Master taught me. And it is what Razija always knew. In fact, I do not think Razija was ever seeking our Magus. Not really. I think she was seeking love.’
Razija raises her head. She stares at Marisa.
Marisa smiles. ‘Petar and I sat one night with our Magus. You will not believe what the stars can truly look like until you have looked at them with a Master. He pointed to stars, and it was as if they shone brighter for him. He spoke of them, and it was as if they danced before us and that we too were caught up in that dance. God was with us then. God was in the earth on which we sat and in the air we breathed. God was in my fingertips. In Petar’s hair. In his mouth and his eyes, in the way his arms enfolded me. And as I sat in Petar’s arms the Magus spoke of love, of Petar’s and my love.’
‘What did he say?’ Razija breathed.
‘He said that we all touch and taste and live and practice Union with God whenever we love. When Petar and I made love, he said, because it was love, then we experienced a fraction, just a minute fraction of the love that will encompass us when we attain Union with God. And when a mother loves her child it is the same. Love is the mechanism and it is the road. And even the least of us touches that road whenever we fall in love. And when we do fall in love our souls become entwined, become part of the other. Because we are… because we are in Union.’
Marisa turns. She stares at them both. Tears fall from her eyes. ‘And when lovers are separated, something in our soul, which has got so entangled, is torn and fractured in the process. It hurts, Harold. Trust me, trust me, trust me, Harold. It hurts.’
Harold does not speak. But Razija does. ‘Marisa?’
‘Was it so when you were separated from your Magus?’
Nothing is said. Harold is deep in love. And at last he begins to know it. And Marisa weeps, and there is nothing they can do for her. And Harold and Razija know it.