Sunday, February 2, 2014

drink the cup poured for you

"If you will, you can become all flame."

There is the kind of sun that leads to sunburn.
This is the angry, hot sun of an August morning.
I had hoped that everyone who saw the rough, red patches of skin flaming on my cheeks assumed those splotches of red are from a summer in the tropics, not from being outside too much sans sunscreen in an Indiana August.
In the tropics, I let the sunscreen rot in the tubes, but here in the fresh air of Indiana, 40 degrees north of the equator, I realize I could finally put those giant tubes of sunscreen to good use.

Along with your skin, the sun bakes the air to a warm, dry heat. Compressing the oxygen molecules into a thick cake of atmosphere.
Such an environment is stifling.
You are mired in heat.

But one thing about warm air is that it will always yield a breeze.
It has to.
Because as you sit under the hot sun, you wait, you wait, you wait with bated breath and with unceasing patience
And then it comes--
that sweet little bit of air that is broken off and dashed about on the currents of air that constantly whirl around you--and you taste it:
you open your mouth to drink in that sweet, cool wind.
The breeze tickles the back of your neck, it blows easily through your cotton pants, it lifts the sweat off of the top of your ears.

And then sunlight-
sunlight shines through the banks of clouds that are pelting snow down at the earth.
You are seeing it for the first time and you think: it is a miracle.
The beams shine through the dust in the air, and they dance at your feet.
Shadows evaporate, because they are hit by a radiance that dazzles their fragile intellect.
And there, in that beam of sunlight, in that whisper of breeze, you find peace.

For a tumbleweed, I imagine that finally stopping must seem so strange.
After a constant sensation of movement, the feeling of stillness must seem strange to that little ball of prairie grass.

Peace is like that in a restless heart.
Once my heart bumps into peace, much like a tumbleweed against a wall of rock, it starts, surprised.
Am I really not moving?
Why is the prairie no longer moving past me?
The world looks clear, it is no longer blurry and a hazy swath of many colors.
Is it supposed to look like that?

What is this sensation of being in one place?
I feel that I can stand.
I feel that the ground under my feet is firm.
No longer being moved about by currents of uncertainty.
The tectonic plates of my soul have stilled.
And there is a overwhelming space of peace that opens up, like a morning glory in the dawn light, waiting to be filled.
But, by its very stance of waiting, finding that it is already full to overflowing.

You lift your lips to drink out of the cup, expecting a bitterness like Mexican chocolate, and you find that it is sweeter more dazzling than moscato.
The gift you have been given was always to be found sitting underneath the tree.
You just could never see it before.

One day, sitting under the powerful fans in the Motherhouse kitchen, Sister Michael went on a long tangent regarding the theological and historical significance of the Shroud of Turin. 
How amazing, she said, that we have a picture of what God looks like.
But Sister Michael, I silently thought, We already have a picture of what God looks like. 
The absurdly miraculous truth is that the human being sitting next to me was an image of God. 
That all our days we are surrounded by living portraits, more vivid and precise than burial shrouds.
For what is a human being, but an image of God?

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