Yesterday, I started reading Lytta Basset‘s very moving book Ce lien qui ne meurt jamais (Paris: Albin Michel, 2007), a conversation with a diary she started writing five years ago after the suicide of her 24 year old son Samuel (May 7, 2001). I am very touched by the way she speaks about the capacity of people to be near, to embody Christ’s presence next to us, to interact in consoling situations and events which she calls “white pebbles” (“cailloux blancs”):
“Mais qu’appelle-t-on ‘caillou blanc’ au juste? Pour moi, c’est une coïncidence, une convergence, une résonance … tout événement instaurant un trait d’union entre des vivants. Pourquoi ‘événement’? Parce que cela arrive, sans que nul ne l’ait programmé ni prévu, sans que l’entourage n’y voie rien (de particulier): c’est un événement uniquement pour la personne à qui il est destiné” (p. 45).
I understand this as follows: an event that happens to us, in life-giving and empowering relationships with others, and in which we touch a depth of reality which at that precise moment opens up to us, to the person to which this depth is addressed, a sudden density in which many elements of our lives touch one another and in which some depth of our life comes to the surface. It is really moving that this happens amidst interactions with people who by coïncidence open up reality to us without even being aware of it, people who are a gift without knowing it. For their openness to become such a gift, these people are very dear to us.
I am grateful to Lytta Basset to describe these experiences so precisely. They are so vital and crucial to us, and I was reminded of their simple beauty on the train between Leuven and Brussels. There was a seat free next to me, as there was also one next to a person sitting in the row before me. People crowded in, many people … amongst them, an elderly couple, the man clearly somewhat distressed that they will have to sit on different rows, not next to one another, not facing one another. The tenderness between them was very moving and I stood up and said: “well, I think both of you want to sit side by side … I’ll move to another row, then there are two seats free here”. The man answered: “we’ve been together 51 years, I think we can sit on different rows of twenty minutes or so … but I am glad to accept your offer”. To me, this was one little white pebble, one with a great sense of humor, reminding me to trust in love and friendship and tenderness over very long periods of time, encouraging me to overcome anger and pain in relationships. A wonderful combination, coïncidence, encounter with L. Basset and two wonderful people, still in love after 51 years.