Saturday, May 09, 2009

same story

the screen-saver scoops up photographs and creates a mosaic. and as the images multiply, they combine to become yet another photograph - an image of my little nephew, minutes old. swirls of red paint i made last summer with my right hand colour his florid cheek, sylvia meets jonah charging in the bend of his arm... and a favourite moment of you, laughing with head thrown back, melts deep into the black of his eye...

Even if I were to stretch this letter out, God forbid, to a thousand pages, would I ever be able to convey my full story to you? I suspect the answer is no. I suspect that our stories in their fullness will always be hidden from each other and that all those whiskered old men and bonneted old women looking out at us from their photographs in the family album will always remain mysteries to us even if, like me, they happen to have written their memoirs. And yet I believe that all is not lost. Maybe we can never know each other's stories in their fullness, but I believe we can know them in their depth for the reason that in their depth we all have the same story.

Whether we're rich or poor, male or female, a nineteenth-century Swiss jeweler like Isaac Golay in his oversized frock coat, or a twentieth-century American clergyman like me with a penchant for writing books, or a young squirt celebrating his twenty-first birthday in the twenty-first century like you, our stories are all stories of searching. We search for a good self to be and for good work to do. We search to become human in a world that tempts us always to be less than human or looks to us to be more. We search to love and be loved. And in a world where it is often hard to believe in much of anything, we search to beleive in something holy and beautiful and life-transcending that will give meaning and purpose to the lives we live.

- from letter to benjamin, by frederick buechner, in the longing for home (1996)

all witnesses to one another's becoming... it was never your destination i cared about, just as i've long since forgotten the punchline. your laughter made the air vibrate...
i watch you in the transformation...


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