The hypnotic slow waltz of the Blue Danube set in stone reached out, captured and carried me into the room.
“You felt it, didn’t you.”
It was a statement, not a question. I looked at the name tag on the tour guide’s shirt.
“Yes, I did, Joe.”
“Just about everybody does. That rock just pulls people right into her.”
That “rock” was the 45.52 carat Hope Diamond. I was in the city on business and decided to take some time to visit the National Museum of Natural History where the “Big Blue” resided.
“Can I ask you something?”
Joe cracked a smile. It immediately struck me that my question sounded a bit foolish. After all, he was a tour guide: He was supposed to answer questions. The latest studies must be right; in the presence of beauty men get stupid.
“You’re not on duty, right?”
Another brilliant deduction, based on the keen observation that someone in a similar uniform, who was not named “Joe”, was off in the next room shepherding the bunch of tourists that had come in ahead of me.
“No, not right now. I’m on my break.”
“So, why are you here and not in the coffee shop, or outside breathing something other than this rarified, climate-controlled air?”
“It’s the diamond. I can’t keep my eyes off of her. I walk past the door and she pulls me in. When I bring a tour in here I have a hard time remembering my lines. It’s like she stuns me into silence.”
I knew what he was saying. As the Hope turned on it’s pedestal, I mentally moved with it; mesmerized, trapped within it’s shining blue facets like a deer caught in the headlights on a dark highway.
“Hard to believe that something so beautiful could have been formed hundreds of miles below ground.”
It sounded like he was switching into tour guide mode. So I led him down my own special garden path.
“Why is it called the Hope Diamond? Is there some miracle associated with it?”
“No, nothing so special. A banker in London by the name of Henry Philip Hope owned her back in the 1830s. She’s named after him.”
“So, it’s called Hope, but doesn’t give any?”
Now it was Joe’s turn to look a little nonplused. That was my fault entirely. I knew where I was going with this, but he didn’t.
“It’s called Hope but doesn’t give any hope. In spite of it’s name, that diamond is like Cubic Zirconium. It looks good but doesn’t live up to expectations. It doesn’t give anyone any real hope.”
“But it’s not supposed to give hope. That’s just her name.”
“But you believe there is something special about it, don’t you?”
“Well, maybe. I guess so. What makes you say that?”
“You always call it, ‘her,’ as thought it were a person, as though you expected it to return the emotion that it causes in you.”
Joe was bound by honour to defend his lady; hopefully not to the death.
“But you felt it too!”
“Sure, I felt the attraction. Your Hope is beautiful, fascinating. But it’s fire is cold. It promises warmth, but can’t give any. It’s an illusion. The name on the box says one thing, but when you open it — Cubic Zirconium.”
“Where are you going with all this?”
I thought he’d never ask.
“There are so many things in life that attract us. It’s not that most of them are bad; at least not in themselves. But they don’t live up to expectations. People we trust fail us. Money comes, but it goes even faster. We get good jobs but never get the key to the executive washroom; and if we do, we discover a leak under the sink, and —”
“— even the best plumbing doesn’t last forever.” Something had struck a chord.
“That’s right, Joe. It all looks great; we fill our lives with it, but at the end of the day we come up empty. It’s a diamond called Hope that doesn’t live up to its’ expectations.”
“So, there isn’t any real hope? It’s all fake?”
“ The real stuff is closer that you think; you just have to know where to look. A wise man once said: ‘God has chosen to make known … the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory …’”*
I could almost hear the angels singing as we walked away from the “Big Blue”.
*Colossians 1:27 NIV
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