Falling in love with life

In Stephanie Saldana’s memoir ‘Bread of Angels’ she recounts a conversation with a novice monk.

‘”Stephanie, you know, I never really thought you should become a nun.”

His words sting terribly.

“Why?”

“You don’t believe in resurrection,” he answers, his voice sad and barely audible. He does not say it cruelly. He sounds sad.

“What do you mean by that?”

“It’s simple, Stephanie,” he says, looking in my eyes. “You don’t love your life.”‘

How hard it hit me, so hard. Right in the gut, or deep in the soul, the place where things hurt.

Because, Father in Heaven, please forgive me, I do not love my life, the life that in itself is a blessing.

But through my desire and Your grace, I want to try.

So I look at the patterns in stones, sniff the approaching thunderstorms in the soft air, feel the fingers of wind. I observe how the leaves of plants stretch, turgid with water, to meet the sun, opening their hearts in the process, and let them teach me how. And I write in my journal of my landscapes, what is within and around me, instead of cool green magical forests or romantic golden sands peopled by wild horsemen and whirling ghosts.

I dream of a desert scene, barren, desolate, burnt to ochre starkness by the relentless sun. Then as though in defiance of why things should be thus, strange, impossible flowers bloom, reaching the skies. Rain falls and a river runs through the land. The people come and a village springs up.

Once, in a story, I asked, “Can a desert become a forest again?”

I want to answer, yes.

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