Monday, May 7, 2007

The Beautiful World Paradox

I go back and forth between seeing the world as amazingly beautiful and depressingly sad.

In this interfaith women’s study group I’ve been attending, the discussion leader guides us through meditations/ visualizations at the end of each session. During this last one she gave us a few moments once we had reached that peaceful state, to look inside ourselves to discover what we had been unable to hear or understand previously. The following image came to me:

I was climbing up steep stone stairs. I was walking alongside my Lord. This was clearly a metaphor for life, but where were we going? We kept walking and walking. There seemed to be no destination in sight. I realized I had been going for years now. I was starting to wonder why. But then I realized my legs had become so much stronger. Finally I saw someone I recognized. I invited my friend to join us. I helped when he stumbled at the beginning.

And something was growing inside of us. It had started as just a little glow… but when the friend joined, it became a little brighter. We passed more people and invited them to join. We laughed. We helped each other when we grew tired. Each time somebody joined the group, everyone’s light grew a little brighter. Gradually the path seemed to flatten out (or maybe it just seemed easier?) And I realized there was no destination, was no heaven. Or the destination was in the journey itself or something. Maybe Belinda Carlisle was right (if you know what that’s worth): heaven is a place on earth?

That is a beautiful idea and all, but it’s not so easy to implement. I was taking the bus this morning like I do every week, and as often happens, I saw so many people’s struggles, so much stuff that I’ve never had to deal with personally. My heart breaks every time. I just don’t understand why some people have it so hard and why for others, life goes so smoothly. I don’t deserve my life any more than the young woman with the chubby-cheeked little boy deserves her cheating, sleazy husband or the guy in the wheelchair deserves to not be able to run with the breeze. And I actually felt pretty wretched.

This woman at church works at an orphanage. She described the lives of the children. They have been abused; many of them don’t even know their parents anymore. They have lost all reason to trust anyone anymore. It probably wouldn’t take much from a caring adult to make a difference. And there are so many other people who could use a little love. And the thing is I have love to give. I am just scared to share my love with strangers. So often I just sit by and do nothing. Maybe I think people will be insulted? Maybe I am lazy? Maybe both and something else too? I do not know.

Maybe the challenge is to see the world as beautiful and sad at the same time... or beautiful in spite of the sadness. Sad enough to feel the need to reach out in love, beautiful enough for hope?

1 comment:

Beth said...

The first link didn't work and I am a little disturbed you picked a "glowing tobacco plant" for your glow. It creeps me out. Why didn't you pick GFP-mice? At least they're cute, and they definitely don't promote cancer!

I'm not surprised that you had this sort of revelation, because it sounds like you, or at least what I know about you.

I especially like this: "Gradually the path seemed to flatten out (or maybe it just seemed easier?) And I realized there was no destination, was no heaven. Or the destination was in the journey itself or something."

I think that the reason we hesitate to reach out to people that could just use a little love is because of stories like the kids at the orphanage, and because our parents, who wanted us safe, told us not to trust strangers. The world is depressingly sad and amazingly beautiful, but the fine line between sad and beautiful is often the ability to take risks in trusting people.