Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Thanks for your patience

Hi all--sorry I haven't posted in a while.

I think I'm back. Changed, but back. Hopefully will share more frequent entries now.

We're reading through The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen in our Bible Study group. This book is composed of Nouwen's own reflections on seven months in a Trappist monastery in upstate New York. Here is what he says when seeing a beautiful late-summer day in that part of the world:

"...I kept thinking an old thought: I wished that all my friends whom I love so much could see and feel what I can see and feel today. But I know they never will. On this earth the experience of great beauty always remains mysteriously linked with the experience of great loneliness. This reminds me that there is still a beauty I have not seen yet: the beauty that does not create loneliness but unity."

Instinctively, of course, we know that what he says is true. Whenever we see something beautiful, there is a pain in our spirit--sometimes dim, sometimes sharp--that the beauty of right now is fleeting. A New Jersey native, like myself, cannot visit the Grand Canyon without two feelings: the desperate desire to pocket the experience and pull it out at will and the despair at knowing it is fleeting and cannot be retained. The unique beauty of a moment, a here and now, can never be grasped and shared with everyone we want to share it with, as often as we want to enjoy it.

I suppose that the birth of little Grace has taught me this even more. While I love watching her change and grow, it pains me we cannot hold onto the time. Her first week has now come and gone, and I wish it could be re-lived and shared with everyone who we care about. I look forward to the coming weeks and months and years, and all of the changes; still, something in me wants to put the last week in a bottle, store it in the cupboard, to be brought out and enjoyed when good friends come over so that we can all enjoy this week together forever. The deep beauty of this last week is chained to the realization it is passing away and can never be perfectly enjoyed and shared with others who I love.

So it is that Nouwen and I look forward to something we have never seen, something that seems to me to be as close to a picture of heaven as we have: “the beauty that does not create loneliness but unity.” When time is broken down and cannot hurry us any longer, then we will know the joy of being in a moment completely and able to share our joy with others—and God—more deeply than we ever have before. No longer will we experience the pain of realizing our joy is temporary—for there, it will be eternal and shared with all of God’s children.