Friday, September 21, 2007

From the Encyclopedia of Experience: Human Being (1)

It strikes me as odd that we do not spend more time seeing people as the expression of a time line of being rather than a moment; the person who cuts me off in traffic or sits opposite me on the bus is a receptacle of childhood senses, smells, sounds, sights, songs, a soul that has been touched by certain people, shunned by others. They've seen or not seen an ocean, dreamed of fantastic creatures*, excavated cultural wealth from family poverty, or demolished what has come into their hands. They think thoughts in private that escape my wildest imagining, the joy, the horror. In secret, they talk to God, or try to ignore him.
From time to time I imagine what I do not know of the being manifested before me--what it sounded like when his mother called him in from playing with friends, what games she played when she was 4 and the world was young in her, full of mystery, full of possibility; who that first person was that encouraged him or her, what his or her hopes are now; what those hopes would have been, had everything gone as planned.
To see a person this way, though still only a guessing, is perhaps to see more clearly, to understand that behind each face are, in fact, a multitude; behind each gesture, a universe that only One in all existence can fathom. And though it may at times be overwhelming, impossible as it is to know a person's entirety, it is that entire universe I am called to love.

*I met a man and his wife once at a burger place. He asked me to convince his wife (who I had just met) that there are no mermaids in the Indian Ocean. He was completely serious.

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