Monday, 2 January 2012

A Gift

Dear reader, I know I'm late. Christmas has come and gone, your tree could already be down for all I know. I'm sorry for my delay. I do have something to make up for it though. I searched a long time to find you the perfect gift. I wanted to find you something that showed you how much I cherish this friendship and sometimes that takes longer than you think. This is a very special present; something that I hope you may feel you can find a perfect place for. It's the kind of thing you can use in every season, something you could pass down to the grandchildren, something that can gather some beautiful stories. I know you feel you already have a pair but please, I want to show you how it works...We'll need to take a walk.

Let us start by observing a passer by. Who is this woman? From first glance she walks along with her head held high; an outfit of perfection with strong high heels, meticulous manicure; not a hair out of place. Her suitcase suggests an important meeting with confidential documents. Her ear glued to the mobile phone as she efficiently and quietly commands the universe she controls you would think she has everything together. You look at her and feel intimidated, almost jealous, you do not understand how she achieved this status of perfection. As she abruptly shoulders past you and looks back with a glare, like you purposefully strode into her line of fire, you actually feel responsible for causing her delay. 
That moment passes you by until the next Venisian vision sweeps into your view. This is all you see. 
With this gift, your sight is altered. You may now look around that bend in the road that blocked your sight before. Now you can clearly see that behind this strangers cold, hard exterior lies something so small it could be invisible. The heart of a child; an innocence that was ripped away and never replaced. What was once a strong city, fortified with jewels and diamonds, now lies a ghost town, walls wrecked and burnt to the ground, and then abandoned. What could have been restored was left alone and broken. The replacement was simply a mask of what was before; a shadow. In that moment you brush her side, you feel the ache. An empty bell toll, a silent cry. There is now no noise where once was laughter, there is no desire for life but rather the best attempt to ignore it, labeling it as naivety. There is something missing, a gaping hole.
What about this man? You know this one don't you? He was close to a life of destruction and bitterness. Lost a dear friend of his not too long ago you say, that must have been a sad and terrifying time. It's good to see he's still on his feet. Steady and lighthearted.
Looking over him once more we do see the broken but it has been built into. There is much still to heal but it has not been left alone. There is a process of restoration and he is not accomplishing this in isolation. Look at all the different architecture. There are many skilled hands at work here. How faithful his friends must be to use their artistry in order to recreate life.
You think this impressive yet? What if you, dear reader, were to look in the mirror? What would your eyes see in this person? Are they worth taking notice of at all? Does accomplishment hold your head high? Is there any heart for adventure that keeps your gaze steady and strong? Could there be any tales of struggle and success from those scars and scratches still to heal? That is not what you see is it? Well look again. 
Strange isn't it? You find a different silhouette entirely. This is a strong figure, one with heroic stature and nobility. Your eyes are solemn from the history of bravery against foes who have struck many times, but you have not been worn down. You are still standing. 
Your coarse hands from the labours of the day can grasp hold to weathered cliff faces that seem to have no end. Those heavy lids that remind you of sleepless nights from  are only there because of something stronger than mountains; commitment. What you thought was not making a difference; each day that passed with little change has actually been bringing you closer to a summit with such a view, oh dear reader I cannot describe, it is only to be witnessed. You shall know what I mean, for you shall reach the top.
All that weariness from your struggles; it has given you perseverance. And that consistent drive to move forward has given you a defiant character. And what we now see through all of that is a rare gift. Not many possess such a distinct feature. You have hope. I know you wonder why all of this is not more obvious, but my dear reader, hope that is seen is no hope at all. 
I expect that wasn't quite what you expected to see my friend. The perfected face of a stranger really in need. A friend who found beauty in the breakdown. You; a fighter? A hero?
This is an exceptional gift and one to be used often. In fact I would suggest using it to understand anything that you've deemed as 'normal'. That phrase we always use "the truth behind" should really just be shortened to "the truth" because what really was true about what we saw the first time?
When it comes to belief, many emphatically state "I'll believe it when I see it." What makes us so sure that it isn't our own eyes that deceive us? Who of us can say that all we have looked upon since first glance, can rely on that, almost always, memorable first impression? Perhaps it is possible that through the ages we may have simply lost the power to automatically translate what we see into what we know as history has decided that once things are, that is how they always will be. This is my (belated) gift to you in this timely season. I must tell you my friend, since possessing one of these myself, I cannot remember the last time I used my old one. May we look to the future with less dependence on what we have always known, and seek out new sight so that we may walk forward into the real truth: the best treasure is still yet to be found. That we have actually barely began to scratch the surface. 

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" 
Side note: This post really does need to pass huge credit to what I have decided is one of the greatest movies of all time, "It's A Wonderful Life" that has taught me how we don't need to wait for hindsight to see how wonderful life really can be.  If you haven't seen it; go buy it for yourself, give it away as a present, let it become a familiar friend with your DVD player. 

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