Given that a late-season hurricane is bearing down on the East Coast, friends and family in other parts of the country are asking what is going on right now here in New Jersey. Well, we're doing lots of preparing and lots of anticipating. "Waiting for the storm of all storms is a tedious process!" a fellow eighth-grade mom wrote as her Facebook status about half an hour ago. She's right.
I alternate between feeling bored with it all and being scared; no one knows exactly where landfall will happen, and because this is a diffuse storm, how widespread its effect will be. And yet, there is always the possibility of Beauty emerging amid fear.
This afternoon, as I was coming home from Mass and from K-Mart, where I bought still more batteries, my next-door neighbor called out to me from across the street. (Our street and the afternoon sky are pictured above) "I have flowers for you!" F. shouted. She was delivering flowers to the elderly woman across the street, a woman who has said some deeply unkind things to her in the past.
F. and her husband are retired public school educators and they are the next best thing to having grandparents next door. They give wise advice about homemaking and childrearing but only when I ask them. They are Orthodox Jews and we share an acknowledgment that the reality in front of us is not the only reality, an understanding that nothing we do is self-generated, but rather comes from the Mystery that created us.
They maintain lovely landscaping, including dozens of flowers, and this morning F. had lopped many, figuring either she or high winds would do the job. Once I got out of the car, I met her in front of her house. She handed me this lovely bouquet of dahlias and mums.
Who put this neighbor in front of us? Who made these flowers?
"Our life is relationship with God. But then what are all creatures? What is a stone? What is a pool of water? What is a flower? Relationship with Infinity. We are not all the same: we are in the same boat, we are in the same current! Everything is relationship with God. If we are relationship with God-and for us relationship with God is the awareness of relationship with the Mystery; a flower doesn't have the sense of the Mystery, and nor has an ox, nor even a goose! Our life, however, should be defined by it." Notes from a conversation of Luigi Giussani with a group of Novices of Memores Domini Milan, April 11, 1999