burying my talent

High School Graduation Day with my Dad and a dictionary.

See Proper 28 (year A)

The glory of God is the human person fully alive. -Irenaeus of Lyons

I’ve been taking a sort of Sabbatical. I’m giving only one retreat this winter and and in March it all starts up again. Although I have projects I hope to do, (including fleshing-out one of my retreats for publication, and, going through bins of old diaries), I’m taking the luxury of working on my health and body predominately. I’ve been participating almost daily in yoga classes at a studio about five minutes drive from where I live.  One month of practice already makes a difference in my strength, endurance and energy.

In September I took a week to organize the first couple of bins of diaries and letters. I sorted (and read sparingly) material up to the age of twenty-one. What I did read surprised me. As a sixty year old looking at my sixteen year old self, I realize my self image then was not at all consonant with the lovely young woman I was.

This isn’t unusual. Generally, young people don’t realize how wonderful they are. Especially after the crucible of middle school/junior high. In my youth, girls especially had nothing much to look forward to or aspire to other than marriage. We took our one talent, buried it, and forgot about it.

One of my best friends got an innovative birthday present from her daughter last year. The daughter contacted friends and family and cajoled us into writing memories of her mother, which she put onto slips of paper in a gorgeous box. My friend enjoyed these one-a-day messages which lasted well beyond her sixtieth birthday. She writes that even at sixty, her own negative image of herself is wonderfully at odds with how everyone else in her life sees her, and that she has a lot to think about as a result.

After coming home from yoga yesterday and hearing the poor neglected discs between my vertebrae sing, “Thank you, MAMA !” I wondered if it is possible to become as fully alive as I felt in those years before turning twenty-one. Until now I thought, “Well, that’s just youth. When you grow up, you don’t necessarily want to be fully alive.” But now, I wonder.

The glory of God is the human person fully alive, said Irenaeus of Lyons.

It’s not too late.

2 Responses to “burying my talent”

  1. elizabeth leborgne Says:

    “the Glory of God is the human person fully alive”
    I was delighted to finally find the author of this quote I have had as my banner since moving here to France and hearing it for the first time in French, If I translated it literally, it would read, the glory of God is in man standing tall. La Gloire de dieu est l’homme debout.
    Perhaps I am prejudiced, but I like that translation better. I see a man or woman, not cowering, or prostrate, or negligently sitting but upright. It has been my banner for all these years because it is a way for me to “test the spirits”. Does this teaching or attitude give Glory to God by rendering this man or woman more fully human, more completely who and what they were meant to be?
    These comments aren’t supposed to be novels but I just wanted to react to the phrase in your text ” her own negative image of herself is WONDERFULLY at odds with how everyone else in her life sees her” Having just read your entry on the wizard of OZ and the characters seeking qualities they already possessed all the while humbly claiming they needed to have them-is it therefore WONDERFUL to not see yourself as you are (for now we see in a mirror dimly, then we shall see face to face)?Or is aspiring to something like being there? mystery…

  2. Brook Says:

    Perhaps it’s more common than I thought to be 60 years old and have a very negative self-image. Last night, I read old birthday, Mother’s Day and Christmas cards from others; it’s true others don’t see me as negatively. My adult children are especially gracious.

    May all this sink in.

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