Monday, May 10, 2010

Joy and suffering...

...oil and vinegar.

"Joy and suffering are two equally precious gifts both of which must be savored to the full, each one in its purity, without trying to mix them. Through joy, the beauty of the world penetrates our soul. Through suffering it penetrates our body. We could no more become friends of God through joy alone than one becomes a ship's captain by studying books on navigation. The body plays a part in all apprenticeships."
~ Simone Weil

Joy and suffering -- oil and vinegar...they seem on the surface repellent. No, they will not mix; but, their flavors complement, and are dependent upon the other for meaning to exist.

I was introduced to Simone Weil by my Grandmother. I stand in awe of my grandmother, feeling very near the presence of a saint when with her. My sister and I spent the night over at my Grandpa and Grandma's house quite often when we were growing up. Some nights it provided my parents a "date night," and other nights we just wanted to be spoiled. We would play dominoes ad infinitum, slurping up exotic Fruit Punch ice cream floats, the creation of my Grandpa who jobbed as a Soda Jerk in his youth and still fancied Grandma's kitchen counters as his Cream Parlor, his grandchildren were ever-willing participants in his sweet indulgences.

Then, with a bedtime snack of saltine crackers and milk, we nestled up to my grandmother in her bedtime slippers and robe, as her voice carried us into a wooden shoe and off to the land of Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod...

She would tuck us in, my sister and I getting our own room! Quite a novelty in those days. Often, I would escape the carefully wrapped nest, and peek through a light slit in a squeaky door. The view was always my grandmother, on her knees at her bedside. She was not speaking, her eyes were not closed; but, rather pleading something of her carefully folded hands.

People often say that they are praying for me. I seldom believe them.

Except, for my Grandmother. I know she is praying...

So, recently when I was wrestling with Silence, I asked her: does she ever hear God's voice? I figured that if anyone heard, it would be this Saint. Her answered words wrapped me with a comforter, and again like a child I was at bedtime years ago...peaceful.

"No," she said, "I have never heard it." Though, "sometimes, certain thoughts might be God directed." Sometimes? Directed? Her faith didn't receive The Voice either. The bedside channeling was silent. Yet, her voice remained. My grandma said this quote, from Simone Weil, has always brought her peace amid deafening silence: "All of life is a waiting for God...Let me trust also the darkness of my own faith that is energized by my longing. Even if my waiting in darkness were to be the only truth I ever taste, I would still believe the ache in me is too deep to take lightly."

And tonight, as I watched vinegar and oil fight against each other in a small Japanese tea cup, I thought about more of Weil's words, those about Joy and Suffering. We want Light without Fire. But, it is not possible to encounter beauty without first knowing The Ugly.

I live, waiting for God. I yet long within the darkness of my faith. And, I eat, in pursuit of The Beautiful, while still veiled with ugliness.

~ Dinner ~

Red leaf lettuce
Brown rice
Green olives
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Sea Salt
Mixed peppercorns

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