I was alive, bright like berries in the sunlight when I met you. Bursting with love, overflowing with joy. The beauty & peace of God splashing through me. A season of dancing with the Divine.
* * *
“Even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.”
* * *
It’s two years later now and here we are again. I sink my hands into sudsy water, and there is comfort waiting for me there. Dirty glass dunks under to meet my sponge and break out new & clean. Over and over the rhythm of filthy to pure, the cleansing of these dishes is cleansing to me. I am quiet at the sink, hands immersed in those soapy waters when your voice interrupts this therapy of mine.
“I feel like the girl I knew in Pichilemu is so different than who you are now.”
I make my mouth smile but a sad smile is all I can summon & I speak the truth right back to you:
“A lot has happened.”
I don’t cry but I want to. My daughters are gone. My other daughters are so far away: I’m missing out on precious years of their childhood. My Daddy is sick. I am parenting a child who acts as though I am the worst thing to ever possibly enter his life. I am Mothering in a trinity of women marked by dissonance instead of unity. I feel trapped and forgotten and forsaken by God. I feel emptied & barren. I don’t dance with the Divine anymore. I don’t talk to the Divine anymore.
There is no joy splashing out of me anymore, just water splashing over dirty plates in the sink. Again & again, yellow sponge on mismatched silver, filthy to pure. Warm water and prism bubbles reminding me of the beauty I used to see in everything.
You stay there next to the dishes dripping dry and ask me if I remember a drawing I drew two years ago. Crayons, I used crayons. Bright green grass, yellow shining sun, blue birds flying and rainbow flowers blooming. It was me in that drawing, bright like berries in the sunlight.
“Don’t let yourself lose those colors…”
Your words are bold and brutal but they are true and now I am crying. I am crying because I feel those colors have drained out of me, gone with my girls and my Daddy and my joy. I am crying because I can’t remember what it felt like to be her, alive & bursting with love… but I know it felt better than this. Than dishes in the sink, than surviving, counting down the hours til bedtime from the moment the alarm startles me awake. I am crying because those colors are gone, that girl is gone, and all that’s left of her is a silhouette, a ghost of a girl who used to live her life in technicolor.
* * *
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.”
* * *
Months go by and the pain feels duller now. I am moving through my grief, crying less & laughing more. I catch glimpses of that technicolor girl once in awhile, and I think maybe those colors are still inside of me somewhere after all.
One day a friend asks me for a favor, she asks so gently, so kindly, if maybe perhaps I could help teach a class to some children. She knows how fragile I feel and so she is careful not to push me. I plan to politely decline, I plan to say no because saying no is easier. It is safer to stay locked up tight within this grief I’ve grown accustomed to.
But you interrupt her, you speak boldly to me. You ask me to teach this lesson and you leave no space to answer you no. You look past these bruises and the cocoon I’ve woven around myself. You look past my tired face and my saddened eyes and you somehow see that rainbow girl still. You know she is in there somewhere, so you speak boldly and I am taken aback. How dare you suggest I should do something I don’t feel ready for. But you still remember that girl who splashed the presence of God all over when she taught, and so you speak to her. I don’t want to and I don’t feel ready to, but I see you believing in me still and somehow I hear myself say yes.
The lesson is simple but I am scared. It’s been so long. But I am brave and I teach those tinies and I love doing it. I sit with them there, using drawings and clay and mirrors to explain to them the truths I want them to tuck into their hearts… and I feel like that technicolor girl again. I feel like myself again.
It was good for me, choosing to be brave, choosing to step out of that cocoon, and doing something I used to love to do. But I’m ready to step back inside now, where I’m hidden & where I’m safe. But then there you are again, asking me to help with something else. You know I don’t want to but you ask anyway because you see that technicolor girl in me still. I don’t want to but again I say yes, and because of it again I’m standing in front of others, feeling exposed but also feeling brave. And it is good. It is not so hard this time. I am really ready now though, to crawl back inside my cocoon. But then you call me over and ask me to pray over the people we’re with. I look at you, my eyes flashing frustrated to say, “Are you freaking kidding me?!? Leave. Me. Alone.” But I do it. I am brave and I open up my mouth to bless those people, it is hard for me but I think a little bit of God even splashes out. And then the miracle happens:
I feel a burst of color escape to my surface from where that rainbow has been hidden all these months long.
And so I think this is what I need to do: I think I need to look at myself long & hard, until I too am able to look past this tired face and these saddened eyes, underneath to where that dancing girl still exists. I need to believe she still exists, because she does. Thank you for seeing her when I couldn’t. Thank you for pushing me to be brave. Thank you for helping me come back to life.