Sunday, November 06, 2005

why should your heart not dance?

okay i told you all last time how much i loved reading "till we have faces"... i have to do a little reflecting for you. can't help myself... let me quote the relevant part first:

"we had come into the sunlight now, too bright to look into, and warm (i threw back my cloak). heavy dew made the grass jewel-bright. the mountain, far greater yet also far further off than i expected, seen with the sun hanging a hand-breadth above its topmost crags, did not look like a solid thing. between us and it was a vast tumble of valley and hill, woods and cliffs, and more little lakes than i could count. to left and right, and behind us, the whole coloured world with all its hills was heaped up and up to the sky, with, far away, a gleam of what we call the sea... there was a lark singing; but for that, huge and ancient stillness.

and my struggle was this. you may well believe that i had set out sad enough; i came on a sad errand. now, flung at me like frolic or insolence, there came as if it were a voice -- no words -- but if you made it into words it would be, "why should your heart not dance?" it's the measure of my folly that my heart almost answered, "why not?" i had to tell myself over like a lesson the infinite reasons i had not to dance. my heart to dance? mine whose love was taken from me, I, the ugly princess who must never look for other love, the drudge of the King, the jailer of Redival, perhaps to be murdered or turned out as a beggar when my father died... and yet, it was a lesson i could hardly keep in my mind. the sight of the huge world put mad ideas into me, as if i could wander away, wander forever, see strange and beautiful things, one after the other to the world's end. the freshness and wetness all about me made me feel that i had misjudged the world; it seemed kind, and laughing, as if its heart also danced. even my ugliness i could not quite believe in. who can feel ugly when the heart meets delight? it is as if, somewhere inside, within the hideous face and bony limbs, one is soft, fresh, lissom and desirable."

okay, the first thing that strikes me is how ugly, sad, and worthelss she feels. it tears at my heart that she would feel that about herself, but i hate to admit that i've actually felt those same things a lot since i've been here... sometimes freetown (or any other challenging life situation) makes me close in on myself. i let my focus and my thoughts turn inward which is always a dangerous (but occasionally neccessary) idea. the result of the inward focus is that i am overwhelmed with questions about a lot of things. i question the reality of hope, victory, love; and the possibility of freedom, justice, peace. but most of all, i question my own worth, lovability (if that's a word), adequacy. it's hard to admit that i feel these things, but i believe that this may be a sorrow that we all share... no matter our age, race, sex, nationality, at some time or another don't we all question whether or not we are loved?

total downer, i know, but self-pity isn't the point of the story... the point is that something outside of us is the source of an immense joy - a joy that the story-teller literally has to struggle against, telling herself that she is ugly, worthless, hopeless. but the beauty outside of her overpowers the sad mask that she wears. and when she delights in the things around her, she somehow senses that she is loved - but more than that - that she is desirable!

this has been a powerful message for me lately. i can't even tell you the ways that this story has worked its way into my days. it is a striking illustration of what i sense is felt by many people in Freetown - people who live their lives on pavement, waiting to be recognized, to be touched... but i feel like their sorrow is the same as mine - i just have the luxury to mask it. i can attest that God is showing me His love through many of my friends here, and i feel like that's helping me removc the mask. as i get to know these amazing people, hear their stories, understand their dreams, i can clearly see a God who is present and active and that itself is a source of joy in my life. as you can see, i have a lot of thoughts, and they aren't completely linear, so i'm going to spare you some of them!

anyway, i hope that God is showing you, as he is showing me, that you are lovely and desired in spite of yourself!


angela said...

glad you're back. have been missing your updates. loves. loves. loves to you, friend

jarabeara said...

steph. really enjoyed reading this.
i miss you.