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時間︰2014-07-15 09:59點擊︰

Beauty

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.

美麗人生

她有著一種與外表無關的靈氣和美麗。她的話語輕而易舉地征服了人心,她正是我們要聆听的聲音。

很多人都說人生的真諦是個未知的概念。言詞的費力詮釋、藝術的著力表現還有人類那似乎永無休止的紛繁思考,三者都苦苦追尋人生的真諦。希望走近以至完全把握存在的真意可以令人十分狂熱。有時候,有些人以自己篤信的真理為志趣,追尋真理甚于保全生命,于是就有舍生取義之舉。然而,也有另外的一種人生,他們在尋求真諦的過程中灌溉生命。

過去,我常常在教堂的心意籃里面發現一些優美的小短文,有些是關于我的布道,有些是作者日常讀《聖經》的感想。寫這些短文的人不僅對我的一些觀點加以反思,同時還會引用一些他/她曾經讀過的,令他/她難忘又喜愛的詩人或者神秘主義者的話。我給這些短文迷住了。我看到了一個執著于追尋真與美的人。其珍而重之的字句,優美動人。我還感覺到好像那些字句也樂于讓我們發現,它們是那麼毫無保留地,慷慨地為這無名氏作者借用,而現在輪到這位無名氏來學習與人分享這些美文的奧秘。分享令美愈加閃耀生輝,在這個意義上說,其實世上唯一的真理是分毫不費的。

過了很久我才見到這些短文的作者。

一個星期天早上,我被告知有人正在辦公室等我。幫我應門的年輕人說“是個女人,說留言是她放的。”看見她的時候我大吃一驚,因為我馬上就認出她是我的教區信徒,只是我一直不知道那些短文是她寫的。她坐在辦公室的一張椅子上,兩手相扣擱在大腿上,低垂著頭。在抬頭看我的時候,她微笑起來卻十分費勁。那是一張破了相的臉,外科手術使她的臉皮繃得緊緊的,笑對她來說也是很困難的。為了去除臉上礙眼的肉瘤她接受了手術治療,這令她吃盡苦頭。

那個星期天早上我們聊了一會兒,並決定那個星期再找個時間一起吃頓午飯。

後來我們不止吃了一頓午飯,而是好幾頓。每次一起吃飯的時候她都戴著帽子。我想可能是她接受的某種治療使她掉了不少頭發。我們分享了各自生活中的點點滴滴。我跟她講我讀書和成長的故事。她告訴我她在一家保險公司里已經工作多年了。她從來沒有提過自己的家庭,我也沒有問。

我們還談到大家都讀過的作家作品,不難發現她非常喜歡看書。

這些年我經常想起她,在這個以外表、地位和財富等虛名浮利掛帥的社會中她是怎樣一路挺過來的呢?毀掉的容顏使她怎麼也無法變得耀眼迷人。我知道這深深地刺痛著她。

如果她長得漂亮,她的生命軌跡會不會有所不同呢?有可能。不過她有種獨特的靈氣和美,與外表完全無關。她的話輕而易舉地征服了人心,她正是我們要聆听的聲音。她的雋語出于一顆受過傷卻充滿愛的心,就像所有人的心一樣,只不過她比別人更注重對自己心靈的關注、用心去體會生活並從中學習。她擁有一種細膩的美感。她生命里唯一的恐懼就是失去朋友。

我們究竟要花多長時間才能達到如此高度的成熟?能否最終達到還是個未知數呢。我們老覺得身心疲憊,懷才不遇,只顧為眼前的不足憂心忡忡,卻忘了珍視一些歷久常新的東西。友誼珍貴而美好,只需我們用心呵護,有時候簡簡單單的表示就已經足夠了,譬如偶爾寫幾句話給朋友,或者在籃子里投入一些優美動人的字條,以期大家都能分享,記住美妙的時刻、美好的感覺。

她生命的真諦就是要透過事物的表面一睹其真正的本質。她發現了美和上帝的慈愛,而美和慈愛也待她如友,把生命的真諦呈現給她。

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