Story 3 - A Dream About Love.
She asked what it would have cost her to give the man a date in a public place, for a chat, for a kiss, or even a date at the beach? "It would have cost me nothing," she said. "In fact I would have gained a little self-respect by being able to help someone in need."
She told me that if a student would have asked her for a date to discuss microbiologic engineering, she would have gladly helped. But the man had asked for so much less and needed help badly. "What a person am I that I closed the door in the man's face as probably everyone else had done before me? Was he not a human being? That's when I began my research of love, Peter. That's what prompted it."
She explained that nuclear physics is an important field of research for society, and so is microbiology, but love is the field that makes us human. "What do all these other fields matter if we can't treat each other like human beings with respect, and love, and compassion? Peter, I suddenly realized before my research in physics and biology can have any meaning to me, I must first research of how to become a human being."
"I remember a lesson from my Sunday school days," I replied to Erica, "a parable, actually." A man had entered a temple to offer gifts for atonement, but the priest asked him if he had a brother in need of reconciliation. Since the man answered affirmatively, the priest told him to take his gift and reconcile with his brother first. Afterwards he could come and present gifts, for only then would the gift be acceptable. "Maybe you are following that advise," I said to Erica. "Are you?"
She nodded. "But what about yourself?" she asked.
"Maybe I am at the stage at which the man stares at the priest in amazement, asking, 'what did you just say?'" I told her that I realized that there is a whole world out there that needs to be uplifted, but I also told her that I simply didn't know how to begin.
"So you agree that love is the most important subject we can study?" she answered. "I believe, all the rest that we do gains its value from that."
I agreed. "But now I must give you an exam question," I added. "If the incident happened today, how would you respond to it?"
"No, Peter, you tell me," she replied. "If a similar thing happened to you, how would you react?"
I said that would be like a blind leading the blind. I said that I would allow a date, but that would be to explore together of how to open those doors that are closed, and how to do it in a manner by which everyone becomes uplifted and enriched.
"That would be quite an experience," said Erica.
"I would probably end up to be the learner in this case," I suggested and laughed.
"You would probably have the kind of conversation that we are having right now, Peter."
"I should be so lucky," I replied, "but that's unlikely to happen."
"How do you know that, Peter? We can't know that. You can never know what will happen in such a situation unless you close the door on it and say, no! That's what I did. But if it happened again, I think I would be wiser, this time. I really owe this to myself. The study of love has become important to me. I even dream about it. I have seen an unfolding of love the kind of which one finds only in dreams."
"Do you have many dreams about love?" I dared to ask.
She didn't answer. Her expression changed as if something suddenly troubled her. I could see tension. Instead of answering, she nodded. "Actually it was the other way around," she added moments later. "My research of love became rather interesting, because of a dream, but I am not sure if I should tell you about it."