On the Corner
by Robert Docter –
I ran at dawn this morning. It was magnificent. The air was fresh and clear. The changing patterns of light underlined the beauty of an ordinary city park. I saw it and felt it and smelled it and touched it.
Was the beauty there, or did I bring it with me?
Sunrise and sunset bring a mystery all their own. There is a certain elegance there unrevealed at other times. For just a few moments it seems endless even though the changing patterns of light and shadow accelerate. The beauty of these short few minutes of each day is always different, yet ever constant. Colors change. Shadows lengthen. Contrasts appear more sharply drawn. Promise fills the air–and with it, hope.
Life is a series of beginnings and endings–of starts and stops–of sunrises and sunsets. At the point of change we experience anxiety because we don’t know what will happen next. We seem to need certainty in an uncertain world.
The world experienced a sunset the other day. Diana, Princess of Wales, died tragically in the summer of her life. Few of us knew her, but all of us, somehow, felt close to her. We manufactured our own reality in relation to her. It was only partially true. Her physical beauty brought her face to thousands of pages, but no two-dimensional box could contain her. There was something about her that was vulnerable, yet genuine, and we resonated to that. And as we grieved the colors changed, the shadows lengthened, the contrasts became more sharply drawn. Day was changing to night, but the vows of her family and the dignity of her sons brought hope.
All over the world. but especially in London, those whom she had somehow touched held back the night for just a little while. Their grief and tears — their vigil and flowers — their pomp and ceremony — their music and message froze the day in an extended sunset, and it was beautiful.
Was the beauty there, or did we bring it?
Even in the period of Diana’s sunset, we learned of the death of another woman to whom the world resonated as well. The world called her “Mother” — Mother Teresa. While she might not have claimed physical beauty, her internal beauty radiated with such brilliance from her face that she, too, was spellbinding. From her we took a sense of complete honesty. We knew for a fact she was what we saw. Funds she raised went to the poor. They did not pay for luxury. They paid for life. This she gave in abundance.
It seems to me, Mother Teresa modeled a kind of selflessness in a self- centered world. She modeled an alternative. To the degree that we capture just a portion of that, we will radiate the same kind of light and warmth that was a part of her existence. It is clear. That kind of light must begin inside. It comes from deep within parts of us which can never appear on a physiology chart. It is that part of us that is spirit that we reveal–and the kind of spirit within us dictates the nature of the light. Self- glorification shines brightly, but its brilliance only reveals its shame.
When we are deeply touched by the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets of our lives, it is because there is an internal beauty God has created within us. Our meager human perception limits us to a two-dimensional view. With the presence of God in us, even the pain of death is transcended in beauty by the spirit of the life lived.