Friday, August 11, 2006

Svelte--Earlier and Later; and. . .

. . .svelte hearts

In the early nighties I was flying home through JFK. A February blizzard closed airports all around. I had to stay over a couple nights. Fortunately a friend was at home, a short bus-ride from the airport. We went to a movie after dinner at a Chinese restaurant, the only one which seemed open in the neighborhood.

I forget the movie but it was a Columbia Pictures release. Lady Columbia appeared on the screen for her few seconds of torch bearing, and I was amazed. She was more svelte than I had seen her on a silver screen not so many weeks earlier. I grew up with the more ample Columbia lady of the 50s and 60s. You may see all of her makeovers and read about each one at this link. Even the early -generation Big Boy was more svelte, although he exceeded my boyhood girth.

"Where is all this coming from?" readers may well wonder. I've been seeing the desks in hallways and classrooms of Gesu school this summer. Their size, even the largest and especially the smallest, always make me wonder, "How did I fit in those things?" But what truly amazes me is not body size but the expansiveness of human hearts. What saddens me is how easily ephemeral things constrict our hearts and contort the actions that flow from them.

Madison Avenue would serve us well if it gave us those kind of images. It probably won't. So neighborly kindness, community service and regular attendance at places of worship will have to offer them instead.

The way to become truly svelte of heart is to speak to each other about the ways of the heart. One saying attirbuted to St. Ignatius of Loyola is my beacon: "If you want to grow in love, speak about it: speech is to love as wind is to the flame." That takes courage, which helps me appreciate that svelte is from the same Latin root as the word vulnerable.

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