I don't really have time to be writing tonight...but that's never stopped me before, so here goes anyway.
The sermon at church today was on being a body and loving our bodies, and being at home in our bodies. This is something I struggle with a good deal in many complicated layers that need unraveling. But that unraveling is for another day.
We sang one of my favorite hymns -- and I actually DIDN'T cry during it, which was super since I was standing with the choir, and that would have been awkward. It's a simple hymn, really. Just a couple lines:
"How could anyone ever tell you you were anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you you were less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice that your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you're connected to my soul."
The reason this hymn is so special to me is this: my friend, "Rollo," who I wrote about here, sent me an email with "How could anyone ever tell you?" as the subject line, and the rest of the hymn in the body of the email. For those of you who don't remember/don't want to read the post, "Rollo" was a friend of mine who passed away in June 2012. He was old enough to be my grandfather, but age just didn't matter. There was a connection there and, as he was a writer too, we shared long emails and thoughts about writing and life. He was deeply loving, and gentle, and honest, and so present when you talked to him, and just...special. I can't even find the word. He made you feel loved and seen, just by talking with him, and he also knew profound pain and struggle, and you could see that in him. He was a Buddhist in every sense of the word, and he was courageous and intelligent and...there are few people like him, I think. I know there are few people like him. Few people with his story, few people with such love
Anyway, we had a long, long, long, beautiful email exchange on the "how could anyone ever tell you?" thread, and so the hymn always makes me think of him. This week, Facebook told me that it was his birthday, so he's been on my mind. I like to think that us singing this hymn this week was his way of saying hello.
It's hard to put into words, but he had this amazing ability to make you see yourself the way he saw you, even if only for a second. It was like he showed me the best version of myself. After sharing my poetry one week during a service, he wrote: "I felt as though I was looking directly into your soul. As you walked up to the podium, I saw a woman showing a possible slight lack of confidence. But, once you got there and began to share your writing, this amazingly beautiful woman stepped into your body and took over. A woman of confidence -- a woman of strength -- a proud woman -- a brave woman who was fearlessly baring her soul -- a woman who had something she needed to share with the rest of us and was going to do it no matter what."
I don't know if that's the woman I am, but that's certainly the woman I want to be. His emails used to make me cry, because he would tell me what he saw in me in a completely honest manner that made me believe it was possible that I was whole, or beautiful, or talented, or whatever it was he was writing about.
And isn't that how we should be when we're in community with one another? Shouldn't we be living in such a way that we remind one another of our wholeness? Of our beauty? Of our loving nature and our connections? How would the world be different if we lived that way? How can we all work to live that into reality?