Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Strangers Among Us

Whenever one makes a trip to visit family, it seems inevitable that during the course of your stay you will learn things about people you never knew before. Sometimes these tidbits are wonderful little nuggets of information that give you a more complete picture of who that person really was, or is. I don't know why these things remain a mystery for so long, but it seems like such a gift when another piece of somebody's personal puzzle is discovered and put into place.

Equally amazing is discovering that after months or years and across hundreds of miles, conversations resume as if nothing more had happened than you stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. It confirms the fact that despite time and tide, you are indeed, family.

But there are darker corners, too, where finding answers is difficult. Sometimes impossible. Maybe the secrets will never be known. Maybe some thoughts, things, and people are destined to remain a mystery.

Knowing or not knowing. Would it be a blessing or a Pandora's Box? Surely there are things that are better not to know. Yet, there is always that nagging feeling that there must be things that are important and special and wonderful -- and discovering those treasures would give clearer insight, understanding and compassion.

Sadly, it seems there cannot be the joy of illumination without the burden of knowledge. As we constantly struggle to answer the basic questions of who we are and how we fit into family, community and world, the best we can do is look closely, listen quietly, and be open to those strangers among us. They just may have the answers we seek.

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