Monday, September 3, 2018

the extraordinary

Is this it? I wondered (out loud). Is this what life would be with its ins and outs and ups and downs?
The sunlit bedroom on the edge of the park was filled with very ordinary light. Moments arise out of music in the city, much wine in the piazza, and growlers on cold beaches that undeniably beckon us with the call to fall in love. They are moments dripping in excess with beauty. They are not hum-drum, they are wrapped in the magic that is not quotidian. I knew this was one of those moments that was love. But love looked very ordinary that morning.

This is sad, and a little disappointing, because the event itself is and was extraordinary. In fact, upon reflection, it is what I had sought my entire life. This was a moment that I'd always looked for, and I didn't recognize it when it came. Extraordinary is all wrapped up in ordinary—Incarnation means glory is always hidden in plain sight, and the sight truly appears plain.

What it signals, I imagine, is a failure of my own vision. I practice attentiveness, so that the world will always yield its beauty. I pray, so that I can recognize God in the world around me. I fall in love, because the person is so lovable. But it is so easy to see nothing but yourself. Is it possible that a human can love the other so generously and honestly to constantly recognize the divine miracle in the ordinary other?

I wonder how Mary remembered, each day, that the small, ordinary boy she picked up from the dirt under the olive trees was truly the Son of God. Her task is honestly the greatest of all tasks—to be able to welcome the miraculous into your life, to let it take up residence in your heart, to entrust yourself to it, allow yourself to be vulnerable to its love, which means being available to its harms—and to never forget that this vision is divine. It would have been so easy—in fact, quite human—for Mary to forget (for just the smallest moment) that her son was God. He was just a son: messy, alert when she was tired, sad when she was happy, and loud when she wanted quiet. He was just another person, just another ego drifting outside her own.

But perhaps what we mean by Mary's model of discipleship is that she never once forgot. Perhaps we seek so thoroughly to understand the origin of her grace is because her vision never faltered and was never clouded. Perhaps Incarnation is the one pure moment in the symphony where one human being did the will of God so thoroughly and completely that it, in fact, constituted his own will—the word God spoke was his mission and his person. And that Word entered the world because one young woman saw in this treasure the face of God, and set her heart—its own unique instrument and song—to play in time with his.

How can this be—that human love can achieve the attentiveness of the divine? And that, through this unwavering attentiveness, this constantly recollection in her heart, her love revealed the face of God to the world.

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