Friday, November 1, 2013

apricity in our tri-community

sonder n. the realization that every anonymous passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly, in which you might appear in these other stories only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
--from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. 


I do wonder what the stars must think when they see a human being alone in bed.
A human falling asleep all by themselves must be almost tragic to the stars, whose downy firmament is crowded with neighbors.
Imagine what the stars would say to the young woman lying alone in bed, her silky sheets the only entity caressing her slender body.
I believe the stars would shiver in the cold of space, the idea of being the only light in a vast darkness being somewhat appalling to them.

I would hate to presume, or prognosticate beyond my pay-grade  but I think the stars sigh when they see a human who, wrapped in a soft cocoon of self-pity and loneliness, cannot believe in a love that frees him from his self.
His young mind expends far too much energy each day restlessly tossing over questions.
When really, the answer lies very much on the inside.
A flame inside him burns so steadily, but the bushel basket he so often uses to hide its kindly light is his very Self.
A chilling truth.
That kind of chill can't be warded off by a duvet.

Duvets, like bushel baskets are excellent at suffocating light.
Bushel baskets, like duvets, take many forms.
One form, perhaps, is our own fear.
It is terrifying to think that we may very well walk around, shining like the sun.
It is that fear that is usually able to be brushed aside by another person.
That person says: goodness sakes, you're glowing.
Or: my, you look at peace.
Our fear melts for a second under the heat of our own radiance pouring out from the very core of our being.
Oh. I am shining.
If we looked in the mirror, we still wouldn't be able to see it.
We may just notice our diet of chocolate manifesting itself in a little mountain ridge of pimples.
Or we may only see our rain-soaked, bedraggled hair.
A mirror is really not good at reflection.
This is the amazing thing about humans: they are much better at reflecting.
They are very good at seeing.
Because only when you finally see something can you truly reflect it.

Sometimes our bushel basket is shaped like pride.
Pride's shape is the shape of a child stomping its foot.
There is nothing more ridiculous than the arrogance of small children.
But it is easy to find humor in, to laugh at their display of self-importance, because they are so small.
It is funny to see such iron resistance in a tiny being who the next moment asks you for a piggy-back ride.
It is a funny juxtaposition to witness such a willful assertion of independence in a being whose daily modus operandi is radical dependence.
I don't imagine that such iron resistance is so laughable in an adult human being.
It is more perverted than humorous.
And yet, we daily insist that, like a five year old, we can "do it on our own."
It is hard to humble oneself, to come running back to a mercy inexhaustible and an unquenchable love over and over again.
Even in our more mature and rational moments, moments where we've come face-to-face with our flaws and our falls, we admit we need help.
Yes, yes, we'll accept help up to a point, but then, we think, one day there will be a day where I will be Strong and no longer Weak. I will become like the Giant Superhumans the Saints. Somewhere on the path to saint-hood, there comes a day, (the fool says in his heart,) where I can stop accepting help and I will merit love by being meritorious.
I will not accept love as a free handout, but receive it with dignity, holding my head high, as an equal, and not as a dependent.

It is tiring, to daily find that we have fallen, and daily find that we are still at the status of: dependent. Dependent on a love we do not deserve; dependent on a mercy we fear we will exhaust.

Enter our little French sister, Margaret Mary, who tells us that, to human minds and human fears and human pride, there is an answer.
An insurmountably incomprehensible answer, but an answer nonetheless.
Her message is simple:

Behold this Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love.

There is a being who opens up his heart to each little exile, within which to make his home.
Like any exile, thrown out of our homes, we have very little--if anything--to call our own.
We are offered a home in this Heart, this inexhaustibly loving heart.
That is the definition of a free hand-out.
We have not merited it, it is a love that is given to us freely, with only the condition that we will accept it.
We fear it, because we do not understand it.
Our small stubborn wills proudly cling to what they can understand: a petty system of grasping at one's just desserts.
But accepting this love is very simple.
At the end of each day, when the storms of life have tossed you back up on your lonely little bed, you must recognize that you have traveled far that day.
But you still have not journeyed out of the happy State of Dependence.
A state which may frustrate our nagging, stubborn pride; but gives us hope that there is a world above and beyond the small world of our Self.
A nebulous "above and beyond" which is the destination of our voyage.

Do not let that hope die. Stake your lives on it. 
We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.
--John Paul II

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