theological heliotropy from Waiting for Snow in Havana: the sun; the sunlight; the light.

Gelassenheit. What a concept. The Meister came up with it. It’s what we should aim for, he taught. The state of letting go. Letting-go-ness. You even have to let go of God, he warned. “I pray God may rid me of God,” he said.

Maybe a German can let go, in the thick fog of Cologne, in the dead of a dim northern winter, when the sun barely shines for six hours a day, if it shines at all. But can a Cuban let go? Sorry, Meister Eckhart, it must be that sunlight. I love you, dear Meister, love you dearly, but that damn sunlight stays with you forever. It’s burned into your cells. God is light, is he not, lieber Meister? What do you do if your very self is already suffused with the essence of God? If your memories are rays of light from heaven? How can you let go?

Poor Saint John of the Cross, the Spanish Carmelite monk. Born Juan de Yepes, descended from Jews, transformed into Juan de la Cruz when he took the cowl. He enjoyed less sunshine than Cubans, but more than Germans. He tried to be German, like you, dear Meister. He tried so hard to be like you that his Spanish Carmelite brethren had to lock him up and physically abuse him on a daily basis back in the sixteenth century. He read what your Dutch and German disciples wrote. And look at what happened to him. He wrote the greatest love poems of all time. And what did he say in these poems?

Love hurts. It never stops hurting. God is love, God is pain. Pain and joy are one and the same. Life is longing. Pure longing. Nothing but unrequited love.

Blame it on the sun, and the sunlight. It makes as much sense as anything. With all that light Cubans have a hard time letting go. Even if they only lived in the place for one day before being whisked away, the sunlight is forever trapped in their blood. We love much too deeply. …

you could still love up North. Burn like a bleedin’ volcano, you could, like one-eyed Kirk. But you could also achieve gelassenheit, if you so wished.

That’s what happened to one-eyed Kirk at the end of the movie, you know. Just as he gained the upper hand against his own half brother, just as he was about to win the object of his affections, he decided to let go. He stood there, dumbstruck and scared at the prospect of winning, of being attached. He thought of Janet Leigh’s blue eyes, thought of the deep blue northern sea, and he let go. I bet he prayed to Odin: “Help me let go, Odin, grant me gelassenheit. Rid me of desire, rid me of passion.”

How I envy Kirk. Odin heard him, in Valhalla, and Kirk was saved from himself. Rescued from burning passion. No such luck for me.

I yam what I yam. Soy Cubano. Cubanus sum.

And even in New England I wait for snow.

– Carlos Eire, Waiting for Snow in Havana, pp. 221-223