Friday, October 27, 2006

The nose

Travelling on over-crowded public transport is a wonderful opportunity for distractions. This morning was no exception. I’ve only been on one Italian bus where the driver has decided that it is really too full. On that occasion, he pretended that the bus had stalled, waited until another vehicle following the same route appeared behind him. Most of the passengers on my bus disembarked in favour of the one behind…and then, guess what? ‘My’ driver suddenly found that there was nothing wrong with the engine or the lights after all and sped off… fortunately, with me on board (and about 50 million others who had been too canny to move!)

This morning’s distraction was of another variety. I was again fortunate to have a comfortable seat, but only because mine was only the third stop on the bus route. I had all sorts of profiles presented before my gaze as passengers found themselves trapped and unable to move. Everybody simply had to make the best of whatever space they could find. As a result, from my distinctly advantageous position, I had an uninterrupted view of people’s noses.

Have you ever noticed noses? They are short, fat, long, thin, straight, curved, bent, small… and, this morning, one of the largest noses I have ever seen in my life. In fact it was the cause of my comparing it with all the others around.

Now I don’t actually think that my own nose is anything to boast about. I’ve often referred to it as ‘the blob’, the fact of wearing glasses doing little to improve its appearance and, in fact, emphasising its presence rather more than I would like.

There’s nothing particularly attractive or appealing about a nose, but wouldn’t we look stupid without one? Would we breathe through our mouths or would we have been provided with some other means of breathing? Do noses actually look more attractive if they are decorated with rings or jewels? I once sat on the train opposite a young girl who wore so many rings between her ears, nose, eyebrows and lips that I idly imagined threading a piece of cotton through them all for no other reason than to see what it would look like.

I have no idea whether my fellow passenger with the large nose liked or disliked his ‘konk’, but presumably he will have it for some years to come. The thing is that he has to decide whether he, as a person, is bigger than his nose, or whether it is bigger than he is. Both decisions have consequences.

If the nose is the larger, then he is reduced to one unsightly but rather useful olfactory organ which is going to get in the way of all his activities and relationships. He is going to be so conscious of his nose that he, as a person, somehow disappears.

If, however, the man concludes that he is more important than his nose, it wouldn’t matter if he looked like Pinocchio. Life would somehow have the correct perspective and balance.
Lord, if I become too hung up on my physical appearance, please give me a shove. Help me to realise that what matters is the appearance of my heart and its ability to give and receive love. You made me who I am and as I am beautiful in your eyes, that is all the loveliness that I need. Amen

God bless,
Sr. Janet