Thursday, March 20, 2014

twilight zones in our hearts

A friend is that other person with whom we can look at a tree and say, "Isn't that beautiful," or sit on the beach and silently watch the sun disappear under the horizon. 
― Henri Nouwen

The most beautiful spot on campus is the beams of light that dance on the ceiling above the baptismal font.
The ballet of ripples leaps across the smooth surface of the ceiling, a corps de ballet made of liquid light.
If you never looked up above you, you would never be able to see the most beautiful sight on campus.


I stood on the terrace, and looked at the city of lights stretched out beneath my feet.
Unlike the two nights before, there was no foggy blanket of smog and smoke that descended upon the city of love.
There was just a wide expanse of life, of lights.
Unlike London, Paris doesn't crowd the skyline.
The sky is open, unblocked by any skyscraper or tower, except by la grande tour Eiffel.
There is simply a blanket of lights, mirroring the inky stars above.
As you walk through the winding streets, you are swaddled by buildings with rounded corners and charming archipelagos of chimney pots.
There are romantic wrought-iron balconies, elegantly carved plaster, brightly colored awnings, and warm heat lamps basking their electronic warmth on the wicker seats of sidewalk cafés.
The world around you is something like a dream.
A smoggy, messy, cigarette-smoke-drenched little pipe dream.

A lonely little clump of friends sat in their own little pipe dream.
They clustered around a statue of someone or other, enjoying the view of la Eiffel, and several bottles of wine, as well.
There was laughter, there were strawberries, there were flashes of starbursts on the tower, that burst into the night sky like a smile that flickers around a circle.
The stone steps were cold underneath our feet, and the chatter and laughter sent a flood of warmth inside of us.

I wonder if the man who inspired that statue ever predicted that one day his image would become a scenic backdrop for wine-soaked camaraderie.
There are, indeed, worse fates.

 Other people, especially those who love us, can often see our twilight zones better than we ourselves can. The way we are seen and understood by others is different from the way we see and understand ourselves. We will never fully know the significance of our presence in the lives of our friends. That is a grace, a grace that calls us not only to humility, but to a deep trust in those who love us. 
― Henri Nouwen

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