The Daily Meditation yesterday from the Henri Nouwen Society was entitled “The Beauty of Shyness.” (I don’t believe that it was intended as an April Fool’s Day joke!)
This is how it read: “There is something beautiful about shyness, even though in our culture shyness is not considered a virtue. On the contrary, we are encouraged to be direct, look people straight in the eyes, tell them what is on our minds, and share our stories without a blush.
“But this unflinching soul-baring, confessional attitude quickly becomes boring. It is like trees without shadows. Shy people have long shadows, where they keep much of their beauty hidden from intruders’ eyes. Shy people remind us of the mystery of life that cannot be simply explained or expressed. They invite us to reverent and respectful friendships and to a wordless being together in love.”
As one who, in my youth, was sometimes agonizingly shy, I would not have used Nouwen’s word “beauty” to describe my state of being! There were times when I didn’t even feel like a real person. I saw classmates and teammates with easy social interaction, and I felt tormented. (Let’s not mention talking to girls that I liked!) I would wonder what was wrong with me. And yet, deep inside, I sensed that my self-doubts were unnecessary. I lacked the vocabulary to describe it, but I knew that God had created me that way.
Experience is often a painful teacher, so now I can read Nouwen’s meditation and see the beauty.