Monday, February 12, 2007

Luke 6: 17-26

I knew a guy in college who had a wonderful way with people. He fit in anywhere. He was an amazing musician, a singer... who could belt out a Puccini aria and turn around and sing with gentle sensitivity the Shaker hymn "It's a Gift to be Simple." Everyone who heard him thought he was destined to be one of the great tenors of our time. Never arrogant about his talent, he had a big heart that he shared, both in his music and in his dealings with others. I watched him work the room in a bar once. He knew exactly what to shout out to the bartender, the harried waitress, the bouncer at the door.

Jesus' words to the rif-raf on the plain shows that same kind of intuitive sensitivity. He knew what would make them feel honored, special, of value... and he shouted those words to them in front of everybody else. Shouted to them, in front of everybody else.

When I was growing up, a girl's reputation was one of her biggest assets. A nice girl did not associate with rif-raf. She did not hang out on the corner with boys or go to the bowling alley. She snubbed anyone who whistled or made cat calls when she walked by. She definitely did not ride in cars with boys. Reputation was everything, and I missed out on relationships that might have been friendships, had I not been such a goody-two-shoes.

College changed some of that. I was no bohemian, still bound by the conditioning of my youth, but I was able to experiment a little. Watching my friend in the bar was one of those epiphanies. He was not concerned with appropriate protocol or with making friends in high places. He shared himself with who was there. I knew in that moment I wanted to be like that.

I still want to be like that.


Paul said...

This reminds me of an image that's stuck with me since I was fourteen or fifteen - I'm fifty now.

We were on an exchange concert at the start of a party at the school's gym. Everyone was just standing around in little bunches talking to people they already knew.

Motion caught my eye and there in the middle of the gym this girl, the same age as the rest of us, was doing this sort of free style dance alone all over the gym. She looked as comfortable and unselfconsious as if she'd been in her own living room.

She wasn't doing anything spectacular but was clearly just plain enjoying herself - not a hint of either awkwardness or showing off.

The bunch of us noticed her. Nobody could really say anything. At an age where hardly anybody dares to be different she was so completely at ease with herself that nobody could even make fun of her!

Always wondered who in the world that was...

Bluestalking Reader said...

Dear Sister Claire Joy,

Not entirely sure how I stumbled on your blog, but I'm getting to believe less and less in accidents in this world so here I am!

You have such a charming style, and I appreciate your openness. Really, I'm interested in the fact you're a nun. As a teenager I also thought I had a vocation, for years and years. It lasted until college, when disillusion set in. But that's a long story and this is only properly a "comment"!

Anyway, your blog is wonderful, very entertaining and informative. I'm glad I found you, though I'm no longer Catholic or really conventionally religious at all. But somehow I have the feeling there's a lesson here, and I'm all for learning.