The second of at least four posts examining the prison letters of Oscar Wilde, we come to one of the most powerful passages the great writer ever composed, the one detailing what can only be called his conversion (deathbed baptism aside…!). It’s as startling a picture of repentance and humility, a la Luke 9:24, as I have ever come across:

I bore up against everything with some stubbornness of will and much rebellion of nature till I had absolutely nothing left in the world but Cyril. I had lost my name, my position, my happiness, my freedom, my wealth. I was a prisoner and a pauper. But I had still one beautiful thing left, my own eldest son. Suddenly he was taken away from me by the law.

It was a blow so appalling that I did not know what to do, so I flung myself on my knees, bowed my head, and wept and said ‘The body of a child is as the body of the Lord: I am not worthy of either.’ That moment seemed to save me. I saw then that the only thing for me was to accept everything. Since then – curious as it will no doubt sound to you – I have been happier.

Wilde gives us an indelible example of how a vertical relationship with God intersects with horizontal human relationships. The love of a son and father was, in a small way, representative for him of the love of God, while the taking away of his son resembled the judgment of God – “I am not worthy of either”. He was found only when he had lost everything he held dear. However “curious” it may sound, this is the way toward happiness. Rather than grasping hold of life, Wilde finds life through his loss and death. The life of faith is now one of unconditional openness to whatever the future [read God] may hold.

For part three, go here.