Friday, March 7, 2014

twattle groak brabble

a sight more beautiful than sunlight
Sometimes, you know with blinding clarity what exactly it is that you want.
This morning, at 9:52 am, as I hastily strode through the student center on the way to the mammoth building we call The Library, I felt with piercing certainty exactly what I wanted:

Item the First.
Instead of walking through the familiar and much-beloved student center out onto the bright, crisp light of the snowy field-house mall, I wanted to be walking through the familiar chaotic of Charing Cross Station, out into the serene marble light of Trafalgar square, where the small amounts of sunlight that peep through the fog sparkle off the fountains that serve as Lord Nelson's moat.
I pored over the above over-simplified map of the world's most complicated and snake-like city, and I yearned to be back there, in the hustle and bustle of Hungerford Bridge, or smelling Wahaca on South Bank, or wandering through East London's narrow lanes.

I also wanted to be traversing, for probably the forth or fifth time that day, the eternal stretch of Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II. I wanted to smell the scents of Rome and feel the rise and fall of the Roman cobblestone beneath my feet.
That desire rose up inside my heart so piercingly clearly.

To declare oneself an island, to insist on the boundaries of the individual is perhaps the greatest temptation. 
There is a different sort of pride that leads to a humble wonder at oneself. 
Almost a shock that one is walking around, shining like the sun. 
How can this be?

Item the Second.

I walked into the library and thought of all the books in here that I'd like to read, and then I thought of all the books sitting in piles in my room that I was planning to read, and I wanted, wanted so desperately for just one Saturday to sit around as I did each day Christmas Break, in the same clothes I wore the day before, just soaking in the words and worlds inside the books.

Help us to accept with kindness, charity, even peacefulness what you ask of us in our occasional trials. Grant us your help as we try to become who you created us to be.
--William Simmons, C.S.C.

Item the Third.

I wanted eyes to see very clearly not only the road ahead, but the road behind.
Obviously, the temptation to seek an oracle is a universal one. How convenient it would be to ride to Delphi, and have someone give you all the answers, and chart out exactly what is going to happen in your life.
But life, sadly doesn't work like that, and we can only identify prophesies in retrospection.
But that desire to be be able to sort through the mess of the past, and say: well, this was a good thing, and this was a bad thing, and I should definitely feel this one singular emotion about this thing.
is only a reasonable desire, I suppose, because a human being who can't make sense of their own story is a rather lost little human being. 

Christ told us to take up our cross; not to take up our cross, and our pen and notepad and jot down how we felt about it.
--J. Crawford Wiley

We had dinner tonight with a young gentleman who radiated certainty. 
He was a man who knew his story and his family's story, and the story of the land where he grew up.
I grew envious for a few short moments of this man who was so grounded in one corner of the world.
He spoke so eloquently of his little stretch of land, his small portion of the world.
But he knew his culture intimately, it was a part of who he was, he was part of it.
His part of the world did not include the bustle of Kolkata traffic, and it didn't take into account the rumblings in St. Peter's square, and it in no way identified with the pains inside the hearts of thousands of tortured human souls.
But perhaps it is not the tasks of all of us to be citizens of the globe.
And my nomad heart was sad for just a split second as she met a soul who had such solid, unshakeable roots into the soil of a particular topography, and realized that I would never have those roots into the earth.
The roots I have, I suppose connect me more to Augustine, and Bérulle, and my parents, and the worlds of Thommasina and Fanny and Beatrice and Saint Joan.
They are less rooted in the rich loam of the hills of home, and more in the stories that have become a part of me.

Creative art, which it is the soul's good fortune to entertain, is not to be identified with that essential art which is God himself, it is a communication of it and a share in it.
--John Paul II's Letter to Artists.

I also suppose (there's a lot of uncertainty and supposes on a Friday night), that maybe the answers to one's past are a bit more mysterious and a bit less black and white.
Especially where grace is concerned, grace that can bring immense beauty out of such terrible lies and hurt, grace leads less to certainty, and more, I think, to wonder in the mystery.
I don't think that, actually--
I know that.

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