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Beauty 美丽人生

2006-02-21 00:00

  There were a sensitivity and a beauty to her that have nothing to do with looks. She was one to be listened to, whose words were so easy to take to heart.

  It is said that the true nature of being is veiled. The labor of words, the expression of art, the seemingly ceaseless buzz that is human thought all have in common the need to get at what really is so. The hope to draw close to and possess the truth of being can be a feverish one. In some cases it can even be fatal, if pleasure is one's truth and its attainment more important than life itself. In other lives, though, the search for what is truthful gives life.

  I used to find notes left in the collection basket, beautiful notes about my homilies and about the writer's thoughts on the daily scriptural readings. The person who penned the notes would add reflections to my thoughts and would always include some quotes from poets and mystics he or she had read and remembered and loved. The notes fascinated me. Here was someone immersed in a search for truth and beauty. Words had been treasured, words that were beautiful. And I felt as if the words somehow delighted in being discovered, for they were obviously very generous to the as yet anonymous writer of the notes. And now this person was in turn learning the secret of sharing them. Beauty so shines when given away. The only truth that exists is, in that sense, free.

  It was a long time before I met the author of the notes.

  One Sunday morning, I was told that someone was waiting for me in the office. The young person who answered the rectory door said that it was "the woman who said she left all the notes." When I saw her I was shocked, since I immediately recognized her from church but had no idea that it was she who wrote the notes. She was sitting in a chair in the office with her hands folded in her lap. Her head was bowed and when she raised it to look at me, she could barely smile without pain. Her face was disfigured, and the skin so tight from surgical procedures that smiling or laughing was very difficult for her. She had suffered terribly from treatment to remove the growths that had so marred her face.

  We chatted for a while that Sunday morning and agreed to meet for lunch later that week.

  As it turned out we went to lunch several times, and she always wore a hat during the meal. I think that treatments of some sort had caused a lot of her hair to fall out. We shared things about our lives. I told her about my schooling and growing up. She told me that she had worked for years for an insurance company. She never mentioned family, and I did not ask.

  We spoke of authors we both had read, and it was easy to tell that books are a great love of hers.

  I have thought about her often over the years and how she struggled in a society that places an incredible premium on looks, class, wealth and all the other fineries of life. She suffered from a disfigurement that cannot be made to look attractive. I know that her condition hurt her deeply.

  Would her life have been different had she been pretty? Chances are it would have. And yet there were a sensitivity and a beauty to her that had nothing to do with looks. She was one to be listened to, whose words were so easy to take to heart. Her words came from a wounded but loving heart, very much like all hearts, but she had more of a need to be aware of it, to live with it and learn from it. She possessed a fine-tuned sense of beauty. Her only fear in life was the loss of a friend.

  How long does it take most of us to reach that level of human growth, if we ever get there? We get so consumed and diminished, worrying about all the things that need improving, we can easily forget to cherish those things that last. Friendship, so rare and so good, just needs our care-maybe even the simple gesture of writing a little note now and then, or the dropping of some beautiful words in a basket, in the hope that such beauty will be shared and taken to heart.

  The truth of her life was a desire to see beyond the surface for a glimpse of what it is that matters. She found beauty and grace and they befriended her, and showed her what is real.

  美丽人生

  她有着一种与外表无关的灵气和美丽。她的话语轻而易举地征服了人心,她正是我们要聆听的声音。

  很多人都说人生的真谛是个未知的概念。言词的费力诠释、艺术的着力表现还有人类那似乎永无休止的纷繁思考,三者都苦苦追寻人生的真谛。希望走近以至完全把握存在的真意可以令人十分狂热。有时候,有些人以自己笃信的真理为志趣,追寻真理甚于保全生命,于是就有舍生取义之举。然而,也有另外的一种人生,他们在寻求真谛的过程中灌溉生命。

  过去,我常常在教堂的心意篮里面发现一些优美的小短文,有些是关于我的布道,有些是作者日常读《圣经》的感想。写这些短文的人不仅对我的一些观点加以反思,同时还会引用一些他/她曾经读过的,令他/她难忘又喜爱的诗人或者神秘主义者的话。我给这些短文迷住了。我看到了一个执着于追寻真与美的人。其珍而重之的字句,优美动人。我还感觉到好像那些字句也乐于让我们发现,它们是那么毫无保留地,慷慨地为这无名氏作者借用,而现在轮到这位无名氏来学习与人分享这些美文的奥秘。分享令美愈加闪耀生辉,在这个意义上说,其实世上唯一的真理是分毫不费的。

  过了很久我才见到这些短文的作者。

  一个星期天早上,我被告知有人正在办公室等我。帮我应门的年轻人说“是个女人,说留言是她放的。”看见她的时候我大吃一惊,因为我马上就认出她是我的教区信徒,只是我一直不知道那些短文是她写的。她坐在办公室的一张椅子上,两手相扣搁在大腿上,低垂着头。在抬头看我的时候,她微笑起来却十分费劲。那是一张破了相的脸,外科手术使她的脸皮绷得紧紧的,笑对她来说也是很困难的。为了去除脸上碍眼的肉瘤她接受了手术治疗,这令她吃尽苦头。

  那个星期天早上我们聊了一会儿,并决定那个星期再找个时间一起吃顿午饭。

  后来我们不止吃了一顿午饭,而是好几顿。每次一起吃饭的时候她都戴着帽子。我想可能是她接受的某种治疗使她掉了不少头发。我们分享了各自生活中的点点滴滴。我跟她讲我读书和成长的故事。她告诉我她在一家保险公司里已经工作多年了。她从来没有提过自己的家庭,我也没有问。

  我们还谈到大家都读过的作家作品,不难发现她非常喜欢看书。

  这些年我经常想起她,在这个以外表、地位和财富等虚名浮利挂帅的社会中她是怎样一路挺过来的呢?毁掉的容颜使她怎么也无法变得耀眼迷人。我知道这深深地刺痛着她。

  如果她长得漂亮,她的生命轨迹会不会有所不同呢?有可能。不过她有种独特的灵气和美,与外表完全无关。她的话轻而易举地征服了人心,她正是我们要聆听的声音。她的隽语出于一颗受过伤却充满爱的心,就像所有人的心一样,只不过她比别人更注重对自己心灵的关注、用心去体会生活并从中学习。她拥有一种细腻的美感。她生命里唯一的恐惧就是失去朋友。

  我们究竟要花多长时间才能达到如此高度的成熟?能否最终达到还是个未知数呢。我们老觉得身心疲惫,怀才不遇,只顾为眼前的不足忧心忡忡,却忘了珍视一些历久常新的东西。友谊珍贵而美好,只需我们用心呵护,有时候简简单单的表示就已经足够了,譬如偶尔写几句话给朋友,或者在篮子里投入一些优美动人的字条,以期大家都能分享,记住美妙的时刻、美好的感觉。

  她生命的真谛就是要透过事物的表面一睹其真正的本质。她发现了美和上帝的慈爱,而美和慈爱也待她如友,把生命的真谛呈现给她。

 
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