“Her and the snow and the Seine”

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You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. ― Henry David Thoreau

Deep down, we know our souls need something wild, something dangerous, something that makes us feel alive. — Peter Kreeft

A dear friend of mine emailed me the other day after she saw La La Land. A few weeks ago, I wrote a brief reflection on this movie and encouraged people to see it. Subsequently, quite a number of people wrote, told or texted me to share their thoughts and experience of the film. But this particular woman’s reflection on the movie was so moving to me that I asked her if I could post it here. She graciously agreed.

She’s a beautiful person, a feminine incarnation of fire and spirit, a mother to the core and, as my wife says it, “she’s just so real.” Yes, and she’s the kind of person who leaves you wanting to live life more fully after you’ve spent time with her. I am always so grateful for people like that in the world.

And so of her reference to the song, The Fools Who Dream, I would say she can also count me among those who can trace a deepened inspiration back to her influence.

Enjoy, and I will include the La La Land song, The Fools Who Dream, below her email:

After reading your blog I decided to go see La La Land and was able to go tonight alone (I tend to go to the movies alone quite often and very much enjoy doing so). I wanted so much to thank you for sharing your gift of writing. I am often unable to put into words the intensity of emotion I feel and am so grateful when I read something like your blog that helps to shine a light on the jumble of feelings going on in my head and heart.

This movie touched something deep in me as well, it brought to mind a myriad of events in my life where I dared to live the moment to the fullest despite the consequences. Climbing in the Swiss Alps alone at 18 and getting fogged in on a tiny point surrounded on 3 sides by sheer drop offs…the joy of being alone in the fog. Dancing alone at low tide on the sand at Myrtle Beach with the moonlight reflecting on the wet sand giving the illusion of an ice rink. Jumping off the waterfalls in Bosnia/Herzegovinia into the freezing waters. Falling madly in love with an artist while pursuing photography alone in the Carolinas, then driving along a dark mountain road in an intense rain storm, lost and not knowing where I would find shelter after choosing to leave him.

I am so grateful that I had a mother that encouraged me to adventure out on my own and fill my life with so many adventures. I find myself hoping that my children will live life to the fullest, love passionately and risk heart ache and that perhaps someone may say of me that “I trace it all back to that, Her and the snow and the Seine, Smiling through it she said she’d do it, Again”

What a beautiful journey this life has been and what a gift this movie was to help me to glimpse some of it in a new light.

God Bless and thank you!

16 comments on ““Her and the snow and the Seine”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Oh my goodness.

    You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. ― Henry David Thoreau

    Deep down, we know our souls need something wild, something dangerous, something that makes us feel alive. — Peter Kreeft

    Something in these quotes is completely maddening to me. Thankfully it’s a snow day here today because having read the post before the sun came up these words have been growing to a roar between my ears over the last several hours.

    I find the first quote somewhat self-contradicting, analogies of course have their limits, but in many ways the beginning steps of launching yourself on a wave look a lot like standing on your island and looking out to another land. at first I was thinking it’s do whatever fantastic thing your present circumstance affords you to do, vs. staying put and lamenting the grass on the other side of the fence. But then I thought maybe it’s not about what is possible v. what it beyond your grasp but rather is saying life is in the acting not in the standing there, but that doesn’t really suffice as an explanation either.

    Through many graces I’m exceedingly grateful to have become more aware of the diamonds of opportunity laid out before me, I’ve come to be overwhelmed with gratitude for the minute invitations to say yes to participating in God’s love in the providential déroulement of ordinary life.
    I’ve been feeling the treasure is hidden in the minutia not in the big decisions, to quote Lennon, that ”life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” It’s this awareness of the spectacular freedom that neither chains nor threats can take away your free-will decision to love in any circumstance.

    I’m facing some big decisions that have to be settled on within the next month. My option is to passively go with the status quo which is conservative, and safe, and doesn’t rock the boat or to accept an invitation for a big change towards something that fills my imagination with wonder and makes my skin tingle because the possibility is vivid and crazy and risky and fabulous. Neither choice is contrary to the duty of my vocation as a wife and mother yet there is some personal opposition on the part of at least one of the people who would be directly affected by this choice. This is where the maddening part comes in. I feel like this quote is mocking my indecision: Is considering this invitation akin to launching out on a wave or is it more looking toward another land? How do you know?

    Thank you for the thought-provocation. Your dear friend sounds like an incredible woman and I am so glad that she agreed to share her thoughts here! God bless her and her family!

    • Between meetings….A quick response that may or may not get your real point at all…
      Marvelous rassling with these quotes! To me they both mean that each moment (each “wave”) — whether a moment seen as great or small, a moment of monumental decision or an ordinary faithful follow-through on previous commitments — when set in the context of God’s “wild” economy (Jesus!), becomes a moment pregnant with the possibility of ingesting the sacrament of the present moment, which is, in the Christian vision, the place of intersection of time and eternity. This is not a mere counsel to live dramatically, wildly, recklessly, without prudence and discretion, but to discover in your every discernment of the next step (and in every necessary limit of every decision) a hidden greatness, a wild-erness inhabited by Israel’s and Jesus’ God. God is a God who worked within our limits, like a frame, and paints the icon of holiness that He made us to be. For me these quotes are a counsel to mindfulness, attentiveness, openness to receiving what every moment has to give. Where you stand at every moment, when you strive to live in God’s providential will, IS the promised land of opportunity, though held in hope. We care called to be a here and now Saint, and not a Saint Elsewhere.The grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it; where the Spirit waters it; where the wellspring upwells. Something like that.
      (Excuse the Justin Bieber song reference) 🙂
      Thank you for the thought-provocation.

      • Jennifer says:

        Thank you for that interpretation and clarification. I agree wholeheartedly that that’s the key to a life of rich joy: to discover in every discernment…a hidden greatness; within God’s grace the hidden land of opportunity. Thanks be to God!

        Still doesn’t help me with the choice I need to make ha ha. This isn’t the forum to discuss that :). But it does lend tremendous insight and hopefully clarity will follow.

        Thank you.

    • I will pray for that decision! But, selfishly, your questions gave me deeper insight and brought freshness to an administratively intense day. Thank you!

  2. DismasDancing says:

    Brother Tom:

    Obviously, we don’t know the identity of your friend; but please let her know that her comments to you are awesomely beautiful in their purity and in their value as uplifting encouragement for those who frequently doubt themselves and God.

    “What a beautiful journey this life has been…”

    “…it (the movie) brought to mind a myriad of events in my life where I dared to live the moment to the fullest despite the consequences.”

    These two excerpts followed or preceded short, simple, precise enumerations of some magnificent stuff. Your friend’s words belie her talent for using them well! Much appreciate your sharing them. For, as is usual when I open your site, something immediately rekindles the glow of dying embers that both light and warm the darkest corners of distant memories. Memories that forever remind of the single set of footprints on the solitary beaches of my life. Footprints (not mine, for I was not alone) leading to the frightening unknown, an unknown ultimately leading to indescribable blessings realized solely because of encouragement from the human saints and the Holy Spirit, the “still, small voice…” of Providence quietly whispering, “hey you…take that first step…it’ll be a heckuva ride and I guarantee you’ll love it.” Every time I hesitated out of fear, results were disappointing. Trust, and blessed abandonment, however, has been forever rewarded. Perhaps not always in a grand success or necessarily desired outcome. But always with ownership of some new bits of invaluable treasure in deeper wisdom or new-found knowledge. Most especially in priceless gifts of faith, friends, and family.

    On a beach in 1967, two grieving souls, while terror-stricken at the thought of entering another relationship, promised each other a new book, a different “history”, a happier life. Nearly 49 years later, each new day begins with the same “I love you” that melded into the Gulf’s lovely trade wind breezes gently caressing them that fateful night. Only later in life did it dawn on them–The Spirit was in the wind, the whisper, blessing us and telling us that we were never to be alone. Unexpectedly crossing paths with the Marine Recruiter at the entry station in Montgomery in 1967; a chance encounter with a young female colleague in the defense industry in New Orleans in 1997—at first blush, both appear to be totally unrelated events. Both, however, offered “The Road Less Traveled” considerations at critical times. Both required taking treacherous, blindfolded first steps down pathways whose directions and destinations were known only to God. Three of the most critical turning points in my own life…Thank God for the graces to overcome doubt and skepticism, and for the faith to trust in His wise choices, and take that first step. Thank your friend, too, for reminding us of just how fun (and beautiful) the ride has been, even in some of our darkest hours

    God’s peace and bounteous blessings be with you always!

    DD

  3. Nos says:

    “small scale ” J offer it up kiddo…you can’t go wrong with our MOTHERS intercession. I shall keep you in my prayers J … D.D. you poet you , continued blessings on another 49. P.B.W.Y.A.A.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank-you, I shall! And I appreciate your prayers!

      Dismas, thank you for sharing that moving testimony to trust. God bless you and your beautiful Missus.

      Everyone: my grandmother is dying after a massive stroke on the weekend. She had been angry at and resistant to the church most of her adult life. Please pray for a massive flooding of grace to reach her however possible in this semi-conscious state she is in. Thank you.

  4. Nos says:

    “J” May your grandmum receive GODS mercy as the thief on the cross did . On this day you shall be with me in heaven .. dearest St. Faustina we ask for your help ,to intercede on our and Jennifer’s behalf for her grandmum with all our prayers and your intercession may grandmamas heart be softened to accept OUR LORDS love and mercy. As we recite your prayer LORD we say -forgive us our trespasses- May it be so for “J’s” Grandmum. JESUS I TRUST IN YOU + + + + + + +

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you truly for this prayerfor my Granny, NOS and for reminding me of the thief on the cross…. St Dismas! I’m also asking for the intercession of venerable Leonie Martin. <3. Much thanks and love.

      • DismasDancing says:

        Jen, many prayers for your grandmother that, through OUR petitions to Our Lord in His Divine Mercy, she may know and experience in a very real sense, His palpable embrace in a most peaceful and comforting way. That through that embrace, the angst and anxiety she experienced in her life may be forgotten and be replaced with the phrase, “Jesus, I trust in You!”

        NOS, I don’t think I have ever had a bad day after reading one of your comments. You have a beautiful childlike simplicity in your thoughts and expressions that never fail to bring to mind Matthew’s reminder of how Jesus responds to children:

        “13Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them; and the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven” belongs to such as these.” (MT 19:13-14)

        Please, good sir, do not take umbrage at my use of the word “childlike”, for it is intended to be both a compliment and a joyous smile that encourages me to forget all of the so-called “adult” ways of approaching Jesus, and come to Him with absolutely no pretense other than the fact that I want Him to Love me totally and unconditionally. Just the thought of Our Lord physically hugging me sends chills through body and soul!

        “God the Father in Heaven, through the prayers of your faithful servants, may Jennifer’s grandmother be purged of any anger, misgiving, or fear toward your perpetual Bride, Holy Mother Church. Together with NOS, your servant, may our prayer rise to You, that, as you did for Saint Dismas, the Good Thief who stole your Sacred Heart and Paradise, You may turn to her, extend Your Divine Hand and offer the peace that knows no equal, ‘Today, you will be with me in Paradise!’”

        Jesus, I trust in You! Peace!

        DD

      • Jennifer says:

        Thanks D,. I am flying there to see her tomorrow night and feel so much peace and and am buoyed up by everyone’s prayers. Thank you! Jesus, I trust in you.

  5. DismasDancing says:

    Jen, I may have missed any post in reference to your grandmom. Can you share with us your/her status or condition. Prayers for both you and her. God bless you. DD

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks for asking and for your prayers. My grandmother passed away yesterday. She never regained consciousness following her stroke. In spite of two blizzards that would have had us do otherwise, my daughter and I managed to fly out to see her. It was a beautiful, exhausting, disorienting weekend that I will forever cherish. I can not begin to tell me how the prayers of those here and in my community really were felt and so powerful. Thank you again.

      J

      • DismasDancing says:

        May Our Lord console you in your loss. And may He welcome your grandmother into Paradise to be with Him for eternity. “Eternal rest grant unto her soul, Oh! Lord; and may perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the Mercy of God rest in peace. Amen!”

        Thanks for letting us know. I’m happy for you that you and your daughter were able to be there with her. For us believers, it always makes a huge difference in how we approach death and the process of dying. Please be assured of our continuing prayers for both you and your grandmother. You are always most welcome to prayers and concern. Peace!
        DD

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