Paris, Baghdad, Beirut: Something Worth Fighting For

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My heart broke last night.

Just as it did exactly a year ago. And just as I did a year ago, I went to one of my best friends - the boy I am closest to - and cried. Painfully, uncontrollably.

Last year, it was different.

Last year, I sat on his couch crying and shaking because of a person. Because of a relationship that had fallen apart in the most painful way possible. 

Last night, I cried with him again, this time over FaceTime. This time over a city. Over a place that had become my home, where I had been welcomed and loved, where I had learned and grown. 

This time, I sobbed and shook because of Paris. Because of the terror and brutality and death inflicted on a city where I and so many others had walked and dreamed. 

I cried for the people of Paris, for the French host families who had taken us study abroad students under their wing. I cried for the innocent lives cut short in a moment - at a concert, walking down the street, outside a futball game. 

In a moment, everything changed. 

Paris's world changed. And the rest of the world's eyes looked to the city of lights, now shrouded in darkness and dispair. 

As I cried on the phone with my best friend, he looked at me with devastation and said, "I have no words. But I hurt for you." 

He knew how close to home this hit for me, how jarring it was to realize what had happened, how my ties to Paris were still strong and deeply tethered. How I had left a price of my heart there. How I would always consider it, in a way, my home. He knew that I was hurting for the people of Paris, and he was hurting for them too.

I fell asleep holding my Rosary from the Mont-Sainte Michel Abbey in France. There were no words in my heart, only grief and silent lifting upwards to God. 

I woke up this morning thinking, not only about Paris, but about the attacks on Baghdad and Beirut last night also.

Thinking about stories today and the real-life folk who grow up listening to them and who choose not to turn back, but to face the evil in this world. 

And I thought of one Hobbit's words: 

"It's all wrong. By all rights, we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? 
But in the end it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it'll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. Because they were holding on to something."

"What are we holding on to, Sam?"

"That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo...and it's worth fighting for."

A Quiet Moment in Between

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Today is a day of retreating within, of seeking out and dwelling in the moments in between.

I'm drowning in quiet sensations...the warm, golden glow of lights hanging on my wall; the hushed stillness woven with the thrum of air conditioning; the faint, woodsy scent of sandalwood and citrus, rich and light all at the same time; the soft plushness of a blanket wrapped around me like a cocoon, as if imbued with the elusive magical ability to keep me safe + hidden from tears and the real world; the delicate strains of John William's The Book Thief soundtrack, slipping into the so very gentle notes of the Becoming Jane soundtrack, each note falling softly like a golden drop of sunlight and peace.

Words and thoughts flutter through my mind, tumbling and rising like leaves swirling in a breeze...the English countryside, familiar old books, threadworn cardigans, steaming vanilla tea, golden wooden staircases winding upwards, philosophy, flickering candles, unfolding myths, theology and the Incarnation, sunlit trees, hobbit holes, flying into clouds with pixie dust, pen against paper, faded spines of treasured books...

The warmth of a hand against one's shoulder, the crinkling around kind eyes that smile, the lilting cadence of poetry murmured over a fire beneath the deep and dark starry night, the heaviness of limbs, the quiet rise and fall of one's breath in an endless cycle, the deepening sense of fall and nearing winter, the dance of words against the page, the dizzying complexities of thought and emotions swirled together, the terrifying sensation of growing up, the resolve to always be young and merry at heart.