|Joey at The Getty Villa, CA. senk 2013|
Even on a day when the sky exudes monotonous-gray, there seems to be a poignant light pressing on the clouds. If the sheet were just a little thinner, perhaps the backlight would radiate its golden glow more ardently. Instead, the brightness seems to slither through the clouds, emitting a radiance akin to snow on the ground. With this wintry sight clearly in view from every window of the house, I sit cozy and warm near the Jotul, whose belly burns and churns an orange glow that reflects upon the floor. My newborn sleeps, save the occasional soft grunt or lip-smack sound that indicate an early cue for hunger. My other sons are helping Daddy stack mimosa wood - the start of clearing trees, whose roots are beginning to invade the septic system. And as we each are in our respective places, fulfilling roles we have to play, I consider those of my dear friends, too.
Henri Nouwen introduces "Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life" with a compelling thought, wrapped in the book's first pages: "The unity of life among us is even deeper and stronger than the diversity between us" (2013:xxvi). In life, we are so apt to notice the differences we have with others that we often forget to truly look at the heart, instead. Our biases and prejudices overpower our spiritual sensitivities - and we keep ourselves at arm's distance (or much more). Do you ever feel this way, friend? Do you catch yourself pushing away rather than cozying up to others?
As an introvert, whose past pulsates with painful experiences, I often let my distrust of others (especially those closest to me) keep me from opening up. I'm afraid of the unkind words, the bitter actions, and the clear ways in which others have made it known how I constantly fail them. And yet, I know the truth of what Henri Nouwen speaks and I yearn to grab onto that beautiful unity of life far more than that wedge of diversity. Do you yearn for that, too? For the confidence to focus on the freedom that faith gives? And in that freedom, finding the ability to trust, to smile, to hope, to live, again.
Perhaps you'll tuck this reminder in your heart, in your mind's eye, or post it to a mirror. Perhaps you'll read it and forget it until a moment percolates the thought back into your mind. Perhaps it will change the way you look at the next person you meet. And today will smatter that smile back across your face, where its presence reminds whomever you meet about "the unity of life among us."