“The Salvation of Man is Through Love and in Love.”

To usher in the new year of 2017, I wanted to post one of my very favorite passages in all of literature:

We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor’s arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way — an honorable way — in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.”

–Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

If you haven’t read Man’s Search for Meaning, run out and get a copy now.

  • Maricel Moviglia

    Thanks, Gretchen, for this quotation. I love it, too! Happy New Year!

  • statmam

    Compelling quotation. Compelling enough to make me get the audio book from the library. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Kevin Paul

    Great quotation Thanks for sharing with us.
    Thanks and regards

  • Mimi Gregor

    Wow. I am putting this on my library list posthaste. Thank you for yet another great recommendation.

  • I am so touched by this passage that I think I will go out and get that book right away. That truly is what life is all about.

  • Laurie Despres

    I found this book on a shelve at the New Bedford Jewish Convalescent Home in1981 were I was working as an aid ( some of the residents had been camp survivors ) I had just dropped out of nursing school due to illness and to take care of my father who was dying of cancer- This book saved me then, thank you for bring the memory and the important ideas of the book back to me.

  • Ms Oh

    It’s a beautiful passage and an amazing book.
    I’m overdue for a re-read. Thanks for the push.