Being Beautiful: Revision, reunion, and the joy of second chances

My favorite prefix is “re.”

Simply, it means “to do again.” Redesign, reimagine, renegotiate, remember…the list goes on and on. Since Easter has just past, perhaps the most important “re” word is “resurrect,” but I love them all because each word, in its own way, means we are being given a second chance. If we didn’t get it quite right the first time for whatever reason, what a blessing to try again.

This Easter was very special because, when you get to the age of 45, there aren’t nearly as many firsts in your life as there used to be. For the first time, I had the pleasure of attending a Catholic Easter mass in a country church in Fort Garland, Colorado, where my friend is the church musician. First, I was mesmerized by the grandeur of the stained glass windows which seemed more like something to expect in a cathedral. I made up stories about the earnest people who had gladly given their hard earned dollars to honor their God and make Sunday mornings brighter for all the generations in attendance.

The mass was very special because parts of it were in Latin, parts in Spanish, and parts in English. I only speak English, but the transcendence of seeing the little girl in her frilly Easter dress being held by her grandfather waving toward the back of the church, likely to her grandmother in the choir loft, took me right back to the Baptist and Pentecostal churches of my rural Mississippi childhood. We might not have observed the Stations of the Cross or recited Hail Mary when I was a child, but somehow I think God was listening in equal measure last Sunday to Catholic masses in rural Colorado and Methodist sermons in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Somehow, language was no barrier at all. I understood everything I needed to understand.

Lesson One:  people love their children everywhere.

Lesson Two:  people honor their elders everywhere.

Lesson Three:  God’s love observes no manmade boundaries, so why, I wonder, do we keep drawing them?

I reminded myself in that quiet moment of the basic goodness and inherent dignity of all humanity, and I decided not to dwell on the exceptions. I reconsidered the fact that, however each of us chooses to think of God, the higher power in the universe, simply by thinking of that higher power, we are all united.

While sitting in that tiny church at the foot of Mount Blanca, I began to think of another word—renaissance. It means rebirth, and I am being born again into the daily life and times of my home, Mississippi, which perhaps we gave away a bit too easily. Despite the friends we made and the good times we had elsewhere, I am so glad to be given a second chance to see the place of my birth for what it is.

It’s complicated and imperfect and glorious. It’s generous and sometimes judging. In other words, it’s rather like me—and most important, it is my birthright. I am its child.

Look for me on the brick streets of Vicksburg by the time this column runs. Look for me retracing old pathways from Columbus to Gulfport. Watch me being thankful for the second chance I have been given.

Contact David at [email protected].