Maybe there is a world where a young man sits on a bench, wondering about things that could happen, about a different world for him, or a world he has yet to find, just like I do. He searches for this world in the eyes of strangers because eyes are windows into the soul, but so far he has only seen glass and tears. People look at him, and he looks at them, and that is all.
Every now and then, he sees color and softness, and he looks closer, but they always look just as mineral and cold as stone. They remind him of those smoky crystal balls where futures and fortunes are told–but never to him and always to someone else. Because his destiny seems elusive. Maybe it doesn’t even exist.
Sometimes he looks in the mirror, into the brown windows of his soul, and he is afraid his eyes will be soulless, too. That they will only look but never see. But maybe his soul doesn’t need a window because his soul is free, and that makes him feel okay when he wants to run away or when the world tells him he isn’t. Free, that is.
He once saw a bird that had red on its chest, and he thought that was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that he thought it might be the god of the new world he had been looking for, so he followed it the best he could. It watched him suspiciously. It saw him. Its beady eyes met his gaze, and they lingered along an invisible plane of mutual understanding. The black eyes of this red-breasted bird were telling him his fortune, but the creature hopped away before either could articulate what it was. The man is fine with that, though, because for the first time, he realized he might very well have a destiny to live.
It was the principle of the thing–that the bird was more alive than anyone he had met. But principles only make you dim. They limit you. He doesn’t want to be dim. So he forgot about the principle and simply celebrated the fact that he had been seen by a living creature. Principles make you bitter if you live to closely by them. And bitter is like those lemon rinds, those silly yellow swirls of wax that those people put on their desserts. And for what? For color? For liveliness? For what?
Maybe that’s why people are so numb, so dim, so bitter. They take something that already rich and beautiful and sprinkle it with something bitter so the surface is more presentable.
He didn’t want yellow lemon rinds. He wanted to look into someone’s eyes and not see a reflection but an absorption. Someone who saw him and drank him in. Someone to look beyond the surface long enough to tell him to stop running away, to tell him to stay. Someone to take the time to tell him he was alive and that was a good thing.
Because beyond the surface, there would be no lemon rinds, but a brown wooden bench on which to sit, and maybe a hand to hold, and definitely red-breasted bird perched on a tree, whistling “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” its eyes peering deep into a world until a warm soulful eye was brave enough to meet its gaze.
I think one of the most awkward moments in the Harry Potter movies is when Harry suddenly starts speaking Parseltongue to the snake after dueling with Malfoy in Defense Against the Dark Arts with Lockhart and everyone is suddenly terrified of him.
Like, I physically feel uncomfortable. I want to hide.Or to yell, “HE DIDN’T KNOW HE WAS DOING IT! HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS! HE WAS TRYING TO HELP!” Ahhhh. Poor Harry. He was just trying to help, and now the people he ends up saving in the end are terrified of their own hero.
It’s a good thing this shiz ain’t real, y’all. I can’t even.
Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate that, during the drama of McGonagall taking Harry up to Dumbledore’s office, the silence is broken by her muttering the phrase “sherbert lemon,” as the password. Like, of all the passwords Dumbledore could have for his office, he chooses “sherbert lemon.”
“Love for this Book”
by Pablo Neruda
translated by Clark Zlotchew and Dennis Maloney
In these lonely regions I have been powerful
in the same way as a cheerful tool
or like untrammeled grass which lets loose its seed
or like a dog rolling around in the dew.
Matilde, time will pass wearing out and burning
another skin, other fingernails, other eyes and then
the algae that lashed our wild rocks,
the waves that unceasingly construct their own whiteness,
all will be firm without us,
all will be ready for the new days,
which will not know our destiny.
What do we leave here but the lost cry
of the seabird, in the sand of winter, in the gusts of wind
that cut our faces and kept us
erect in the light of purity,
as in the heart of an illustrious star?
What do we leave, living like a nest
of surly birds, alive, among the thickets
or static, perched on the frigid cliffs?
So then, if living was nothing more than anticipating
the earth, this soil and its harshness,
deliver me, my love, from not doing my duty and help me
return to my place beneath the hungry earth.
We asked the ocean for its rose,
its open star, its bitter contact,
and to the overburdened, to the fellow human being, to the wounded
we gave the freedom gathered in the wind.
It’s late now. Perhaps
it was only a long day the color of honey and blue,
perhaps only a night, like the eyelid
of a grave look that encompassed
the measure of the sea that surrounded us,
and it this territory we found only a kiss,
only ungraspable love that will remain here
wandering among the sea foam and roots.
As I’m getting older, I’m beginning to realize more and more that people are hard to love. But apparently, God has been trying to tell me something. Everywhere I turn lately, there’s a sermon, a blog post, a tweet, a poem, a song, a lesson on love and loving others.
At church, we have been doing a series on being a good neighbor and loving others around us. At the youth group my husband and I volunteer at, we are talking about how to love others like Jesus would. And God’s timing couldn’t be more perfect because lately loving others has been one of the hardest things for me to do.
In fact, I’m finding it hard to love myself.
As a result, it has been very difficult for me to step out of my comfort zone to love the not-so-lovable people in my life. Maybe they aren’t very nice to me. Maybe they complain too much. Maybe they drain me emotionally because they take a lot out of me but don’t give anything back. Maybe they’re clingy. Maybe they’re annoying. Maybe they’re ignorant or selfish or rude or self-involved. There are lots of unlovable qualities in man.
But I’ve found the biggest set-back in me loving others is not the actual people themselves. It’s me. It’s my heart.
The truth is, I don’t love myself. The truth is, I tolerate myself. The truth is, I can’t love others if I don’t understand God’s love for me, if I am unable to live in light of my identity as a beloved daughter of the King.