Thursday, June 2, 2016

things we are not doing today

"For many of us, moreover, these words recall the memory of our first encounter with God’s holy book, the Bible, which was opened for us at this spot. It at once brought us out of our small child’s world, captivated us with its poetry, and gave us a feeling for the immeasurability of creation and its Creator.”--Pope Benedict XVI, In the Beginning

On the subway the other day, a small boy sat across from me, his blonde twenty-something nanny floating nearby on her phone. It looked like an all-too-typical interaction, with the young boy babbling on about his day, and the nanny responding absently, absorbed in her phone.

In the middle of that depressing sight, a singer appeared in our midst (as they always do on subway cars) and began the usual spiel of pardonmeladiesandgentlemen, but I'm a struggling a capella artist, needing money for studio time. Anything you have to spare...etc., etc. But it was a sunny Thursday afternoon, and we were all in good spirits, so instead of rolling our eyes and turning back to our conversations, books, or phones, we listened to him.

Perhaps it was the sun, perhaps the warm weather, perhaps my restless hankering for margaritas and bare shoulders--whatever it was, I was in the mood for an a-capella rendition of All of Me on this subway ride. I was grinning with the giddy pleasure of a teenage girl at a Justin Beiber concert circa 2010. To my surprise, other members of the subway car were listening with the same grins on their faces.

The bored nanny, without turning her eyes away from the phone screen, hands the small boy a dollar. There has never been someone more excited about handing a starving subway artist a dollar than this small boy. Anxiously, he waited for the subway artist to prowl down our way on the subway car, and was rewarded for his patience with a high five.

I smiled as I watched the interaction, as I saw this moment and this memory imprint itself in this boy's mind. As humans, our selves are made up of these glorious patchwork quilts of memories. Using these small data points as evidence, our imagination formulates an image of the world. From these small moments, we piece together an image of the cosmos.

Through small moments of grace, of joy, of beauty, we learn to hear the symphony and read the poetry of creation.

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