Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vantage Points

{Disclaimer: Please take this post at face value and know it does not carry a covert or subliminal message of any kind.}

The city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-  I lived there my senior year of high school and it was always interesting to hear what foreigners and tourists thought of the city.

Some saw the gleaming white buildings, pristine beaches, mountains and rain forests creating a breath-taking back drop.  They felt warmed by the statue of Christ, with outstretched arms overlooking the city, felt the energy of a vibrant culture, and were enchanted by the musical cadence of the sotaque carioca (local accent).

Others, however, stood from the same vantage point and saw only bustling traffic with noisy, smoking buses, streets littered with garbage, and the favelas (slums) of unthinkable poverty dotting the mountainside.  They felt the oppressive humidity and heard a garbled language.

I won't lie.  For me, it depended on the day.

And yet the city is what it is.  Magnificent and awe-inspiring in some ways, but tragic and dangerous in others. There is no magical transformation that takes place between the eyes of one and the eyes of another.

Life in my suburban subdivision has a way of feeling crowded and oppressive, or lonely and isolated.  Spring days in Idaho can feel blustery and listless, or refreshing and emerging into life.

And yet there's an unalterable, and at times elusive reality that exists beyond whatever rose-colored or cloudy spectacles I may have put on that day.

Yesterday as I was sitting in sacrament meeting I couldn't help but notice the stark contrast in the deacons passing the sacrament.  Tall and short, red-headed and blonde, heavy and scrawny, cool and awkward, one was markedly older than the rest, and one passed the sacrament from a wheel chair.  And yet what they offered the parishioners was the same despite the assortment of it's delivery. And if the acceptance was half-hearted or with full purpose, whether it was partaken of with a clean or muddled conscience- the token was still exactly the same.

No matter who's looking through the spectacles, whether it's Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, life has a way of moving forward whether we see it or not.  We keep going.  And things seem to have a way of working themselves out in the end.
When I was in New York a few years ago, I noticed a series of billboards that advocated understanding, similar to this one.  I couldn't find the actual pictures on the billboards so this is my attempt to recreate the idea.  


Cher said...

really love this post!

Liz Johnson said...

Can I just say how happy I am that we've reconnected after so many years? Your writing is so poignant and it's like you completely speak my language. I love this post, and basically all of your posts. Thanks for this - it's given me a lot to chew on today.