The Art of Resolution: Equal Parts Joy and Mystery

"Pondering mysterious joy." Source: Magdalena Randal.

Resolution: noun, Word origin: late 14c., “a breaking into parts,” from Old French resolution or directly from Latin “process of reducing things into simpler forms.”

By resolution, broken hearts mend miraculously.

By resolution, broken hearts mend miraculously.

 So was my broken heart restored in Pictou when I followed it there from New York. Arriving in Merigomish, I knew how to pray – just. As I prepare to leave Paris, I am beginning to praise…. Our winter equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is signalled by various ceremonies. In one, a child’s birth has become symbolic of the kind of resolution that edges us into more light.

It is a mystery how we arrived at such tales. In Paris for the last two years I have enjoyed listening to various Christian thinkers. Both the teachers, and the writers we have studied, some anonymous, some named, have invited me deeper into the wonder we all share by just recounting stories about how they make sense of life.

That is what first drew me to explore structured faith; I had already been experiencing existence by the various tales we tell in cinema, literature and, dare I say, the media, that includes newspapers like this one. (After all, today’s truths are tomorrow’s stories.) I wanted to explore further.

Here in Paris, on the shortest day of the year, I was in a festive department store. I lingered at a perfume counter. Two very different fragrances appealed to me; violet and amber. A sweet-voiced sales lady suggested that for times when I sought more joy I ought to dab some violet on my pulse points. For more mystery, she prescribed the amber potion.

Her words were the gift I carried home. Pondering joy and mystery on Christmas Day, I encountered a young Singaporean woman. She was taking pictures in the Luxembourg gardens.

“What will you do with all those photos?” I asked.

“I like to keep memories to look at.” she said.

“Oh… I just like to enjoy memories.” I replied and we began to walk together through the garden. Li-Sha told me she felt lost trying to decide what to do with her life. She’s a physics student who was recently studying in Glasgow. On a little tour of Europe before going home, she said she felt “a bit like Bob.” That is, apparently, a Chinese way of saying you feel like the third wheel: left out.

Her travelling companions were a couple. I told her I thought she was braver than her friend who’d immediately found a boyfriend during their three-month Scottish sojourn.

“It takes a lot of courage to venture out alone. Sometimes it means facing the mystery without being certain,” I offered, hoping to ease this young lady’s discomfort. It was tempting to accompany her further. Instead I pointed her towards the Seine River. Water’s mysterious power has always reassured me. I told her when she got to the end of the Boulevard St-Michel she’d find a famous fountain to her left and the construct that is the Eiffel tower beyond. Then I suggested she turn right to see the marvel that is Notre Dame Cathedral, and inside, a statue of Joan of Arc.

“I will never forget you,” I added. We didn’t exchange contact information – just spent enough time in contact. In fact, the reason I sent her towards sights that have inspired me, was my horror at her telling me that she was asking her smartphone which attractions were nearby!

As I watched her set out, part of me still wanted to go with her. Instead I prayed she might find her own parts of joy and mystery.

Later that evening a rather upsetting acquaintance told me that when you leave a place people eventually forget you. I don’t believe that. There are so many souls who have helped me enjoy life’s mystery whom I cannot forget.

Indeed I still receive encouragement from friends in Pictou – and New York. If I continue to believe in the heaven we make on earth, I know I may be in their company again.

So this year my resolve is to remain in the light we share: living stories handed down over centuries. Such dedication may reinforce my practical efforts to finish my studies and share my own stories: moments of joy and mystery in high resolution.

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This article first appeared in The Evening News, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and is reposted here with permission of the author.

Magdalena Randal is a Nova Scotia artist and filmmaker currently studying in Paris.

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