Monday, April 22, 2013

The More You See of Someone's Heart

Back in the days when I lived in Kansas, there was a certain peace I would feel when looking out over an open prairie.  I believe a prairie shows its beauty the most at dusk on a warm day - the tall grass venerating the dry earth, the gold outline of sun on the drifting clouds, the barometric pressure falling heavy and thick.

Sometimes the radiating heat of a paper coffee cup warms my hand on a chilly, overcast Oregon morning, and as I walk down the street, I might think for a moment of the sun arching over the Kansas prairie....

I sometimes think of this one night all those years ago when a group of friends got together - how we walked out on the prairie past the grazing horses just before sunset to a small, empty cabin so that several of us could share our art, music and writing with each other.  By the light of a lantern flame, I held a short story I had written and I read it to the glowing faces around me.  Others shared their work, and then my friend Alicia showed us a pencil sketch she had made of cream diffusing into a cup of coffee.  Some people see beauty in the things that others might not even notice.  She knew I really liked the sketch, and much later, when I was going through a hard time, she gave it to me.  While I kept it for many years, the many moves of my nomadic life eventually separated this and many other mementos from me.  To thank her for that picture, or maybe to bring it back alive in some way, I recently took this photo for her....

Alicia is the inspiration for this blog.

She and I broke bread many times together in my college years.  It was through many of our after-church lunchtime conversations that I started to realize how fascinated I was with Generation X.  In those conversations we had about life, there was something I discovered - even though she and I had grown up about a thousand miles away from each other, our formative years had a thousand things in common.  It wasn't until many years later that I began to read about the collective experience of Gen X online and in books, but this journey all started for me through face-to-face conversation with a fellow Gen Xer.  As those conversations continued, she and I began to realize that there a thousand pop culture references we could both relate to, and there were a thousand tiny details that were similar about our childhoods.  We found that we had played the same games with our friends on our elementary school playgrounds, and even meticulously folded our notes to pass to our friends in middle school the same way.  And I realized that if our formative years had been that similar in spite of growing up so far away from each other, there must be a Gen X collective experience after all.  Growing up, I had constantly seen (and had even felt overshadowed by) the collective experience of older generations.  I had not yet begun to see the collective experience of my own generation until I met her.

Often the people who see beauty in the things that others might not even notice are the ones who carry with them a deep and intrinsic wisdom.  Often the people who  don't demand a lot of attention are the ones who have the most to offer.  Some people carry a light with them that causes others to be ignited and inspired.  I am grateful that all these years later Alicia and I have reconnected.  I am fortunate to have met her on my nomadic journey.  Even though she has been through much of the suffering that our generation is known for, she remains profoundly kind and full of God's light.  

The more I have seen of your heart, Alicia, the more I have been inspired.  
All my love to you.


(c) 2013 writing/photography by Chloe - all rights reserved - except for Alicia - she can do anything she wants with it! 

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