Sometimes in life, all you can do is brace yourself after the impact. I believe in being prepared, but I’m beginning to realize that the hurricanes of life don’t always come with warnings. At times, they just come. I feel like I’ve gotten soaked through by a recent storm that I’m weathering, but I am also convinced that I am growing from it. It still hurts. But I don’t regret the growing.
I’ve been watching the ongoing demolition of Meyer Library here at Stanford, and it’s resonated with a place deep inside of me. I have only been inside this library twice (and I’ll admit the first time I was looking for a shortcut across campus; the second time I was looking for a bathroom) so I never really had sentimental feelings towards it. However, in its destruction, the library has spoken to me in ways that all the books inside couldn’t have.
This hole opened up in Meyer just days after one opened up in me.
I’m realizing there are different types of people in life, and it’s hard to explain but all I can think of is the ocean shore.
Some people have brushed against my heart like sand, leaving shards that I feel I can do little with but slowly wrap with the nacre of my soul until they become pearls. These people are leaving me incrementally wiser and also more sensitive to others. I am beginning to understand it now. We’ve all gone through something that has changed us.
It is as the quote says: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
There are other people, too, though. There are those beautiful hearts who have stood beside me on the shore when the storm surge drove me upon the rocks, shattering my shell into a dozen pieces and baring my soul to the burnished sky. There are those who have held the pieces with gentle hands. Those who have listened.
Those who are healers.
Not long after the first gaping rend appeared in the library wall, I was walking past another corner of the building when a bit of light deep within caught my attention.
Sunlight was filtering into places it had never touched before. Through the broken glass and twisted metal, the sun was streaming in.
To me, it was a perfect picture of the lyrics penned by Leonard Cohen in his song, “Anthem:”
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Everything that has been happening has been teaching me more deeply about humanity–about what it means to live and breathe and trust, what it means to feel like a kite cut loose from its string. What it means to know that we all have felt things deeply, things that have made us who we are. To know that there are reasons and stories behind every person.
The afternoon sunlight caught the dust and turned it into an auburn mist as I walked by the library today. The demolition is progressing at a remarkable pace, and a whole swath of sky is now open, no longer blocked by the roof and walls. The library was opened in 1966, which means that I am one of the first people to see the sky from this perspective in 49 years.
It’s been nearly half a century since the sky has been open here.
That tells me a story, too. Sometimes when things are broken, that’s when you really see.