Failures in Love by Iris Murdoch: Reading and Meditation

July 29, 2020  • Todd Breyfogle

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Failures in Love, Iris Murdoch


Caring for others is uneven at best. We try to help and fail—either we do not know what is needed, or those we care for do not want our help. Couched in explicitly religious terms, this colloquy from one of Iris Murdoch’s novels captures the challenges of learning to love in spite of failure. Perhaps we are channels, not the origin, of good. Perhaps we can never fully know the results of our own effort. Good is an overflow. That overflow may be mysterious, even to ourselves. What are my failures in love? What good lingers despite my efforts? What refinements must I make in my imperfect love as I move forward, never back? We can only learn to love by love. May we learn well in this mysterious work of creation.

Todd Breyfogle, Denver, Colorado

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