Beauty Hidden Beyond the Shadows

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Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Stevie Nicks, Landslide

“This moment is singular,” I thought as I looked around the room. Small groups of mourners were aggregating and disbanding as they awkwardly greeted long lost relatives with hugs, smiles, and tears. In the background, images danced across the screen, highlighting a full, happy life in snapshots of friends, family, and the deceased in other, singular moments. My memories of her were hazy, distant: a house, a living room, a smile, all seen through the eyes of a 4 year old. Singular. Talking with her sister, old, bent, and feisty, I was reminded that much more was happening than this funeral celebrating a loved-one no longer present. We were all still living.

The shadow around the funeral was just a gray curtain cast across a moment. Walking from the church out into the sunlight, life went on. A season of life had passed and this closing moment was over. I suddenly saw beyond the awkward sadness of the visitation and funeral itself and glimpsed the beauty beyond the shroud. The eulogy, the stories, the reminiscing, the readings and sacraments of the funeral Mass, and the opportunity to share it all together. Even her difficult end held beauty in the shared suffering, caring, and moments it offered. The beauty of it all was obscured by the struggle.

Such moments are singular but that is how our lives progress. Time flows such that there is no return to what has passed and we collect moments in an ever-moving river of experience that takes us from season to season. The singular seasons become collections of singular moments building the library of our life experience. Along the way, we are caught up in the struggle, moving between the seasons, always with a sense of just surviving as we aim for a point in time when it becomes easier, requires less effort, and we arrive at that place where it all makes sense. There is certainly joy along the way but the difficulties seem more obvious.

The funeral revealed beautiful moments and beautiful seasons. Is that what it takes for us to see them?

Waking up the other day, I found myself thinking of what seemed like a thousand tasks, obstacles, difficulties, inconveniences, conversations, presentations, plans, and annoyances. All loomed before me like a tidal wave of resistance to my objectives. Suddenly, in a moment of stillness, a whisper slipped into my mind, saying “Enjoy.” instantly, the looming tsunami dropped into a puddle and I saw the beauty of it all. The opportunity to live it was enough.

Every so often, we get the mountaintop moment – singular, striking, profound, and clear. The rest are seasons, passing, changing, and also singular. They too are beautiful and profound if we are aware enough to see them. The beauty of all of it so often lays hidden, just beyond the shadow of the gray curtain cast across the moments.

The difficulties are loud and bumptious. They demand our attention and energy. They bully us and distract us, trying to convince us that we are less, that life is less. The bumps and barriers assure us that joy is fleeting and that happiness is merely a mirage.

They also sharpen us, prepare us, and lead us to the next moment. And the next season. They are noisy and necessary. They obscure the beauty but are also part of its wondrous fabric, woven in grays to make the colorful strands stand out. If we have eyes to see them.

For the beauty is always there. She is quiet, demur, and patiently waits for us to notice her. She wonders when when we will reach out and embrace her. She makes no demand nor does she apply pressure. However, she too is passing with our moments. Fading with the seasons that move on. She won’t wait forever. She can’t.

They say the joy is in the journey but that trope is hard to believe in the midst of difficulties. Faith is easy until tested. The mountaintop moments will com and go. The singular seasons will pass. We will move in and out of uncountable moments, each also singular. The struggles will always be in our face while the beauty and the joy and the discovery will be standing quietly beyond the shadows. Waiting for us to see them. Waiting for us to feel them.

Breathe. You are in a singular moment. You are passing through a singular season. The mountaintop awaits, if you’ll follow the difficult ascent. The beauty is there, if you’ll look for it.

  • Trish+Berry

    Perfect! Thank you.

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