Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Deeply Moving Experience

Have you ever been moved deeply by an unexpected encounter in your life? A Catholic Times' columnist raises the question, but he doesn't mean seeing a beautiful landscape, an inspiring movie, play or painting, or meeting some extraordinary person. He means having such an experience in circumstances least likely to create such an experience--on an ordinary day in the presence of an ordinary person.

An elderly religious brother came to the columnist's room and said he needed to drink some beer; would he go out and buy two cans of beer for him. The columnist knew the brother had been sick with a cold and fever, and to hear him ask for beer was startling. Dumbfounded, he gently asked, "Brother, you were very sick for a number of days, will it be alright to have a beer?"

The brother quickly answered, "If I have some beer, all will disappear." The brother went back to his room, and the columnist put on some clothes, went to the nearest store to buy the beer, and brought them to the brother's room. He was sitting in a chair in his long underwear, a blanket wrapped around him, his face showing the effects of the cold and fever. He thanked the columnist and gulp down the first of the two cans of beer.

Though the columnist knew that drinking a can of beer and getting rid of a cold had no reasonable connection, he saw the brother, after drinking the beer, get up from his chair, go to his cassette player and insert Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." He turned the room light off, clicked on the small light by the bed and, slightly bent over, stood on the floor mattress which became his stage. "The reason I asked you to buy the beer," he said, "was to sing this song."  With a broad smile, he began lip-synching the song with all the mannerism of the singer. Finishing the song, he inserted two other pop songs and similarly sang them with lip movements and body gestures, mimicking the pop singer.

The columnist was teary-eyed seeing the old religious on his makeshift stage, lip-singing the songs. He didn't want to be a burden on his fellow religious and had found a way to overcome the body's indisposition by willing himself well so he could give what had to be the world's smallest musical performance. And the columnist was there, as an audience of one, in the best seat in the house. When he returned to his room, he was so overcome with feeling at what he had witnessed that he could not go to sleep. 

What other activities--despite the obstacles that normally are present to frustrate those activities--are we capable of, we might ask ourselves, if only we would bring to our desires the same commitment of will as did the religious brother.

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