Monday, May 12, 2014

see what this new world will do for me

Hold on to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
--Phillip Phillips, Home

From my familiar tree branch, the world is very easy to see clearly.
I could see clear across the sparkling lake to the opposite shore.
The familiar shore with its familiar tulips blooming their vibrant colors.
From my tree branch, the sky is always painted just out of my reach.
It smiles down at me, and I know that here is one corner of the world that is mine. I belong. I fit into the cradle of the tree branch effortlessly, as if it was carved for me.

I sat on my tree, and I speculated on the habits of the geese family that was boating happily through the water by my feet.
I gasped with delight as one of them craned their neck to reach a dandelion growing on the bank. His beak grasped the yellow bloom, and ushered it into his mouth. It was a stunning sight. I'd always thought geese ate very dull and tame diets: you know, grass, weeds, green things we would never notice the absence of. But the bank looked less cheerful without its little yellow flower.
I watched the papa goose snap at a third-party goose that kept floating near the nuclear group, encroaching on their sacred family circle.
Or maybe it was the mother goose. I couldn't tell. No matter. They were certainly not about to let that other goose get anywhere near them.
Ostensibly, it seemed that the snappish behavior was on behalf of the fluffy little gosling that was floating between them.
When they reached the bank, however, the little gosling was the last up the steep slope of the lake's shore.
He kept struggling up the incline, to no avail. Lacking friction on the muddy bank, he would always fall just short of making it to the grassy top of the shore. Finally, after working up a great deal of steam, the little ball of fluff managed to make his way to the top. Without any help from his parents, I may add. His mother (or father. I really can't tell them apart) rewarded his efforts to join them on top of the bank with biting the poor little chap's neck feathers.
I snorted in shock and disbelief from my tree branch.
The goose parent turned to look at me.
It was probably unwise of me to draw their attention to my presence.
Out on my tree branch, dipping my toes into the lake from my smooth wood perch, I was a sitting duck. If either goose parent decided I was a threat and ventured out onto the tree branch to get rid of me, my only escape would be the lake.
Ignoring my wordless commentary on their parenting techniques, the goose parents turned away from the water, an made their way up the hill towards the Moreau cross.
A seminarian ran past them, unaware of their beady eyes that followed his legs, ready to strike. Underestimating geese is probably the greatest occupational hazard of seminarians.

From my tree branch, the world looks much like it does as I sit in the windowsill of my stained glass window. I read these familiar words like love letters. Sweet words that caused Peter to say: to whom else should we go?
And I know that there will always be places like this windowsill painted with colored light from the stained glass where I will fit in as if they are carved for me.
That there is one particular cavity that I was molded to fill.
That there is a strange empty part of me that is constantly learning to change loneliness into lovingness.

Remembrance is a form of meeting

--Sand and Foam, Kahlil Gibran

We sat in a cozy conference room, telling memories. Memories are delicate things that, with much retelling sometimes fade or their flavor changes or their texture alters.
It is a scary business sometimes sharing memories.
After we told stories on stories of our summers in Kolkata, we said goodbye to the young man who is going to Kolkata this summer.
We bid him godspeed. I asked him to do something I remember someone asking me.
Put an intention in Mother's tomb for me, I asked, just as she had requested of me.
Okayyyy? I had responded when the request had been made of me. (In my head, obviously, not out loud. My mother didn't leave me to be raised by wolves, after all. No offense, of course, to wolves. Lovely creatures, really. [see how charming and diplomatic my manners are?])
And then I'd gone to Kolkata, to Mother's tomb, and realized that there is a little wooden box on top of the large white marble slab that marks the spot where Mother Teresa's body now rests in peace.
Each day, there is a new person on one's heart or problem on one's mind, and there is great comfort in writing on a slip of paper, and hoping that someone who is much better at praying than you are will take up your petition.
We watched the young man walk down the stairs.
All the stories that I had just told about my past were in his near future. He was walking down the stairs and into those stories. My heart did this weird little ache-tug as I walked through the journey to India in my head in a split second.
And then we walked up the stairs, going up to retrieve my friend's copy of A Severe Mercy.
There was a lump in my throat, and I think all the tears got stuck there.
I wanted to walk down the stairs with the young man and go with him on his adventure, one that was going to be so sweetly similar and yet so joyously different than ours.
I could feel my heart clinging to one memory at a time and then letting it go, letting the boy walking down the stairs beneath go on his own journey.
So I kept walking up the stairs one at a time, keeping pace with my friend, as we moved slowly but surely farther along on our own adventure.

Distance only increases affection, if it is real and sincere. Should I go to the end of the world, my imagination would bring my friends likewise as daily companions of my every step.
--Edward Sorin

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