Friday, September 12, 2014

Prompt: Tabula Rasa

I’m sitting at my desk when I hear the soft chime announcing someone entering the chapel. As I stand and run my fingers through my short hair, I think it must be someone who wants – or needs – counseling. I barely glance down at my desk as I step around it. There’s nothing there. What was I just doing?

I push open the heavy wooden door and jangle the bell hanging from the iron handle. A quick memory of a startled woman, spilling wax on her hand. Then it’s gone. Another woman, younger, sits in the third pew, leaning her elbows on the pew in front of her, resting her forehead against her clasped hands. A pose I know all too well.

I pick up a short stack of hymnals and clear my throat as I cross the trancept in front of her. When she looks up, I smile. Holding up a hymnal, I ask, “Is there one in your pew?”

It helps to give them something to do. She looks down, then nods. I cross to the other aisle of pews and set the hymnals down on the first row. Casually sitting across from her, I admire the stained glass window behind the altar, a magnificent spread of angel wings. Waving my hand toward it, I say, “It always makes me feel as if they could reach out and embrace me at any moment.”

They don’t usually want to talk so much as they want to know that they’re not alone. And suddenly I know why she’s here. With the knowledge, a memory I didn’t have a moment ago. “My mother used to hug me like that when I was a child. She died of cancer when I was fourteen. I was so angry with her for being sick, for leaving me, I didn’t see her that last day. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could feel her arms around me once again.”

I glance over, and tears are running down her face, unnoticed. She nods and swallows. I continue. “I know I’m supposed to imagine those are God’s arms, God’s wings, or one of his great angels. But I’ll tell you the truth.” I turned to face her and leaned forward as I confided, “It’s not God’s angel that reaches out to me up there. It’s my mother, even though I know she’s one of God’s angels now.”

She dropped her chin and looked away, nodding again. I pulled a small tissue pack out of my coat pocket and held it out to her. She tugged loose a tissue and pressed it against her eyes and cheeks.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” I say gently. She doesn’t speak, only nods again. I stand and rest a hand on her shoulder for a moment. “Stay as long as you like,” I encourage her. Then I cross the trancept once more and retreat into my study…

Note: This didn’t come out quite like I wanted it too. I think I’ll give it another try tomorrow from a different POV and see if that better conveys my mental image!


And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s one I love:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

Dogs in House

September word count

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