You Are Too

He was standing by the inner library door when I came in, a funny mixture of boyish eagerness and innocence on his adult face. “Go ahead, young lady,” he said, pulling the inner door open for me.

He was standing by the inner library door when I came in, a funny mixture of boyish eagerness and innocence on his adult face. “Go ahead, young lady,” he said, pulling the inner door open for me.

“Oh, just a minute,” I answered, dumping my returns in the dropbox, happy from the autumn wind outside and my walk downtown.

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“Thanks,” I said, taking his gift of an open door with airy confidence.

“You’re beautiful,” he mumbled pleasantly as I passed, and for a minute, my knee-jerk reaction kicked in, and I brushed on by, not willing to meet his eye, seeking the inner sanctuary of the library and the anonymity of hidden rows. My creep sensors were on red-alert and flight was the key option.

I made my decision in about a millisecond, and a millisecond later I regretted it. He’s not a creep, my heart said. He’s a man whose simplicity lacks a filter. I had been beautiful, I thought, for a little while—the day had made me so and bright thoughts running up toward God and back from Him had made me so—but in that one millisecond I felt suddenly ugly.

What if I had looked that man in the eye, smiled, and received his gift? What if I had let him beautify me by his blessing, as God’s wind and colors had also gifted me with beauty this day? What if I finally understood that my beauty (such as it is!) is not a gift for me to enjoy, but for those around me? What if I had said, “You are too,” and returned the blessing on his head?

Our Inconsolable Secret

“We do not want merely to see beauty …. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—

“We do not want merely to see beauty …. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. … The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. … [G]lory means good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.”

C.S. Lewis, ‘The Weight of Glory’