What did you think of these last two New York Times' essays, the ones inside the back cover of the magazine? Did you sigh? Did you weep? Did you love discovering that these women can write -- can tell a story?
I am reading, or have just begun to read An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. That title reminds me of the opening of Hymn of the Universe by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. "Since once again, Lord -- though this time not in the forests of the Asine but in the steppes of Asia -- I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labours and sufferings of the world."
I remember reading many things by and about Teilhard in a class a few years ago. Some basic things from that course have stayed with me, giving me a way to understand suffering and vitality. The poetic, inclusive opening of Hymn of the Universe is unforgettable for me.
This morning I read "Lives: Jumbo Buffet: An American (Vietnamese, Jewish, Catholic, Pennsylvania) Story" from The New York Times Magazine, July 4, 2010. The author, Susan Silver Cohen describes her relationship with a Vietnamese refugee, Phuoc Nguyen.
Susan met Phuoc (pronounced fook) when he was an employee of a house painting company in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, painting her house. Susan and her husband shared cups of cold water with Phuoc, and conversation in which he told of his escape from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975, eventually arriving in our state.
As I read the story, I frequently stopped to laugh, to cry and to weep. Susan speaks with a frankness that I love and I find myself thinking about the amazing beauty of sitting at table, sharing one another's food and holy days with those who don't appear to belong together.
Until that happens, are we not all displaced persons?