Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On not being so different after all…

At first sight, joy seems to be connected with being different. When you receive a compliment or win an award, you experience the joy of not being the same as others. You are faster, smarter, more beautiful, and it is that difference that brings you joy. But such joy is very temporary. True joy is hidden where we are the same as other people: fragile and mortal. It is the joy of belonging to the human race. It is the joy of being with others as a friend, a companion, a fellow traveller.

This is the joy of Jesus, who is Emmanuel: God-with-us.

Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey

In London over the weekend, I was struck by just this thought, walking across the Millennium Bridge, travelling on the Tube, sitting in The Palms of Goa watching Charlotte Street fill up in the early evening… So many sisters and brothers, their lives at least as intricate and loved as mine, going about their days on this earth of ours—and I found myself loving them, holding them before God in my own heart I suppose, in a way I had never been conscious of before.

London has all too often been hard to visit, difficult to be in; this time, though, it was all delight. I’m not saying I want to move there again after so many years and so many changes, yet I found again my love of this glorious, scarred, beautiful ball of energy and grace that is our capital. I was there with Susan, of course—but even so, this city is a pretty special place on its own. And being there, I became part of the place again: vulnerable I suppose, open to the spirit of the place, and so, somehow, part of its blessing myself. I am so grateful…

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