In My Life…
There’ve been stories of people’s lives that have shamed me for my grumbling over mere vicissitudes of ordinary daily life. Stories of ordinary people whose existence is made known by someone who’d marveled at the substance of their being, spirit, and thought to make it known to others to marvel at also.
There are the lives of husband and wife. And having created children, and with them a family, bestow, anonymously, the most generous contribution to making the world a better place.
Then there’s the man or woman who toils in the field without regard of reward, fame, thanks, or notice.
And there are the lives of the ‘special needs’ man, woman, or child, from whom emanates so pure, so ineffable a joy for life, it stresses belief for being beyond ordinary imagination to render it plausible.
I presume God had compensated these “unfortunate” humans with the enduring, endearing charism of joy – to subsume their handicap, making of it something inconsiderable.
Of that last contingent of souls I’ve not one personal experience but three accounts. The first, the chronicle of a writer in his travels being served by a waiter who’d been just of that type – “handicapped”. The traveler was impressed, even moved, by the young man. For what reason? This… all about the ‘handicapped’ man, there was an unworldly but natural joy, happiness, esprit. And it got me to thinking.
The second occasion was viewing a video, a young woman in her mid-twenties at work at some simple business for the production of nothing vital but something in demand. So Expressive a joy illumined her face – she hadn’t only a halo to provoke anyone seeing her, thinking her a saint. Merely participating in life at its simplest seemed to this woman paradisal bliss. And it got me to thinking.
The third episode was coming across this picture.
My apologies to the girl, probably by now, woman, for using this picture without expressed permission. In my defense, I am wonderfully moved by it. To my eyes and in my light, she may be the loveliest human being I’ve ever set eyes on.
Somewhere in her, I expect there is some not so small quintessence of the Kingdom of Heaven. And how divine if her name was Joy. In her, there is infectious joy – such as should be communicable to every human on earth. What a glorious pandemic that! And it got me to thinking.
Think these lives cursed? Hapless? Helpless? All such lives are wonderful in their simplicity and great in their spirit. It’s our curse that we have not discernment to see the gift of life as they do – unreservedly joyously. They are more aware of of life, of being, than most everyone “normal”, i.e., the dour, irritable, ill-humored, miserably splenetic, neurasthenic, dead-undead trodding the planet. The earth naturally reflects what there is most of, and from afar is beautifully blue/green; the world reflects, despairingly, murky mud gray… pity the poor dyspeptic world… it is our great shame.
Christians were commissioned be fruitful and multiply. What might all that be about?
It is this… and this purely. Civilization is made civilized, richer, happier, more content, by an abundance of blessed Life; and miserably poorer, bleaker, weaker, by a dearth of it. Look no further than our own country and its vertiginous plunge into savagery since Life had been deemed an inconvenience… unless commoditized.
A poignant aside:
Consider majestic life; consider how routinely we miss it… She hadn’t.
She was childless herself, she who wrote the story; but she was a wonder as a recorder of human nature, action, tastes, and the monumental episodes of life. She generously brought to our attention what we fail to ponder sufficiently for the daily tumult that so easily distracts us. She wrote:…
“She was perfectly quiet now, but not asleep– only soothed by sweet porridge and warmth into that wide-gazing calm which makes us older human beings, with our inward turmoil, feel a certain awe in the presence of a little child, such as we feel before some quiet majesty or beauty in the earth or sky–before a steady glowing planet, or a full-flowered eglantine, or the bending trees over a silent pathway…
The wide-open blue eyes looked up at Godfrey’s without any uneasiness or sign of recognition…
…the child could make no visible audible claim on its father; and the father felt a strange mixture of feelings, a conflict of regret and joy, that the pulse of that little heart had no response for the half-jealous yearning in his own, when the blue eyes turned away from him slowly, and fixed themselves on the weaver’s queer face, which was bent low down to look at them, while the small hand began to pull Marner’s withered cheek with loving disfiguration.”
– George Eliot (Silas Marner)
If one will not have the child, someone else will. What the world needs is to care. What the world in extremis needs is children. What a piteously dying world needs is life. Orphanages are not a blight, they are rejoinders to the yelps for killing. Where there are orphanages, there is a blessed land.
And where there is an abundance of precious Life there is an abundance of vitality, verve, exuberance, vigor. An abundance of Life makes for us an abundance of beauty – Cathedrals, music, art, poetry; an abundance of utility – automobiles, trains, roads, bridges, skyscrapers; an abundance of well being – scientists, hospitals, doctors, medicine health. The world is, in its entirety, our world; the earth is our dominion – not to lord over but continue the creation of it.
The West, the Modernes, Sophisticates, cultivated, progeny of the Enlightenment’s Age of Rationalization, the well-off, and comfortable, the over- indulged, pampered, over doctored – too much overmedicated, have now the most barbaric, Gnostic attitude toward life and have not the excuse of the ancients. Mark this: those who will not value Life, Life will not value. Life values and esteems the human. Unrequited, it ceases to please…
ceases to care also.
If life is your enemy… so am I.