Wednesday, September 11, 2013

the bones of your thoughts



"And you, dear young people, do you really feel, deeply, that you are the hope and the joyful promise of tomorrow?
To be young means living within oneself an incessant newness of spirit, nourishing a continual quest for good, releasing an impulse to change always for the better, realizing a persevering determination of dedication."

--John Paul II




Children are easy to block from your hearing.
It is astonishing how easy it is not to listen to a child.
In the middle of my patient adult brain condescending to listen patiently to the babble streaming from childlike lips, a revelation suddenly popped up in the midst of the babble.
Something I'd never heard before and never thought of, but was exactly what I needed to hear.
And I gaped at the girl who could say things that I never would be able to.
And I grew ashamed, as I remembered all those who had listened to my childlike babble, and deemed it worthy of response.
Children are too easy to block from your hearing.

 Our earth is divided by language.
(Thanks for that, Tower of Babel.)
This sad fact greatly hampers our ability to communicate with our brothers and sisters, to create a harmonious, perfect communion of saints here on earth.
The division in our language is perhaps only a symptom of the divisions that constantly arise between all of us.
One of our next-door neighbors in Kolkata was a man who was deaf and mute.
One of the dearest women we met, with the most beautiful spirit, was from Malta, and spoke little English, but was able to share her story with us anyway.
As you sit around the breakfast room, clutching your bananas and watery chai, or as you sit around the tea table, dipping those ubiquitous Super-Buscuits into the chai, you are somehow able to forge bonds  with all these people from all these little corners of the globe.
People you have nothing in common with, other than the fact that you are both children of God can somehow become friends.

Sister Margaret, from Korea, and I talked often together, despite her nascent English and my non-existent Korean. Usually I just listened and nodded and shook my head sadly at the appropriate moments and laughed at the right spots and smiled and soaked up the joy that radiated from her kind heart, tender smile, and adorable persona.
But sometimes, if you simply don’t have the words, you just can’t express yourself correctly, and communication breaks down into helpless hand gestures and inarticulate sighs.
Baby Priest from Slovenia gave the homily at Mass one day, and his desperate sputtering and his peeved huffs wrung my heart.
 He was trying to tell us something incredible. But he simply didn't have the words he needed to describe it.
After a particularly frustrating and confusing conversation with a volunteer, Sister Margaret tsked woefully and then turned to me and chuckled: “In heaven, all will speak the same language.”
I laughed with her.
And nodded my agreement.
In heaven, all will speak the same language.
At least, they do in Dante's heaven, so I think Sister Margaret's onto something.

There are so many moments I found over the summer that communication broke down.
 But communion, somehow, remained intact.
A communion beyond language.
A communion unbroken by the incessant babble of our Babels.


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