Saturday, December 7, 2013

we are closer than our breath


My dear Sam, you cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. 
--The Return of the King

Of all the mysterious marvels we encounter in the world, the most mysterious and outlandishly, incomparably marvelous is the present.
Here, in the present moment, we encounter grace, pain, joy, and sorrow.
It is in the overwhelmingly real reality of the present where we learn to fall in love, to hurt, and to forgive.
Hypotheticals are enchanting; we are creatures addicted to daydreams.
So the present moment calls to us, pleads for our attention with little darts of Beauty.
It is often beauty or pain, or a sad and glorious combination of both that yanks our attention to the moment unfolding in front of us, bursting to the seams with life.
On Friday night, when the cold winter air was lit up with Christmas lights, we listened to five little stringed instruments play a piece by Brahms.
The notes of this piece whirled through the air, dancing in the warm splash of spotlight on the rough wooden stage floor, lifting back the shadows that pressed in, and illuminating a little pinpoint of air and stage.
The notes worked their way into the ears of its listeners, and through their ears to the blood, and through the blood to their heart.
Soon, the music was a part of their heartbeats, bringing the ancient harmony of the diastole and systole into a vibrant life.
Because what that music did, instead of trying to drown out the present moment with noise was to work its way into the oxygen of the atmosphere, and gild it with effervescent beauty.


For here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. 
--Evangelii Gaudium

It is in this present moment that we will find reality.
Reality, which one would think would be so obvious, is actually quite difficult to discover.
We are too good at making hypotheticals and too adept at story-making. An overactive creative imagination combined with an extremely limited vantage point makes for a dangerous combination.
The little slice of reality we get to experience is so slight that it is almost impossibly difficult for us to grasp the real story that is unfolding underneath our feet.
Friendships are those bridges between stories, that widen our scope of reality.
Friendship is an adventure embarked on by two people, a serendipitous meeting where
Often we use words as simply an exchange of goods. When we are learning foreign languages, all too often, we learn the utilitarian phrases first: Where is the train station? How much is this? Which way to Hotel X? We communicate only in exchange.
Words become vehicles of procuring goods for ourselves from other people.
In the friendships that occur in a community, however, our communication falls outside of the boundaries of exchange.
Our communication is transcendently experiential. The words we use are not just couriers to run our errands for us. Words incarnate bits of our stories, the work we put into our friendships shows itself in our vocabulary. We craft and build a world of words and phrases, that woven together, make up something beautiful that unites us. We call that thing a relationship.

Friendship is an accident which becomes a necessity.
--Professor Cyril O'Regan

Friendships are the things eternal, these eternal things that bring with them the inexpressible and glorious joy that Peter talks of so often.
We are called on incessantly to recover our joy.
The problem here is that we live in a world that is sorrowful, that is indeed, a veil of tears.
It is hard, when we are pressed from the inside and outside with worries, hurts, and fears.
Pain seems to be very much inescapable.
Joy, like love, friendship, and every other worthwhile thing in the world is, perhaps, a choice.
There comes times when the weight of the cumulative sorrow of many moments crowd into the present, creating an inexpressible and immeasurable pain.
Joy, it seems is somewhere on the other side of these moments.
One simply must choose to seek it.

He never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. 
With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew.  
--Evangelii Gaudium

The sun shone, cutting through the cold air, the delinquent leaves clinging to the trees, and sparkling off the crisp, glassy surface of the lakes.
The sun caught the white clothing of the woman, and my breath as well.
Through the air, the wind carried with it little flurries of giant snowflakes.
They floated on the air currents with grace and calm.
In the midst of this moment of peace, I spun around and saw the swans floating on the water, like magnified snowflakes languidly moving through their own atmosphere.
In that moment, my heart beat with the vitality of the moment, and all the invisible souls who were as much a part of that idyllic scenery as the snowflakes and my breath.


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