Somehow she had found the grace to look upon herself with the eyes of a friend. This was not like locating a purse or a cell phone. This had taken her years to find. Some of those years—tortuous—like being water-boarded by beings behind masks and in hoods. And parts of other years were spent in numbness, and with out-of-joint memories like erratic tales told for sound but not meaning.
But now that she found it she would carry it with her, cling to it; because some things, when found, need to be hugged close and tight until they soak through and penetrate the heart like deep mahogany stain on pine. And so she resolved to carry it in just this way.
It was a bit of good luck she thought, having walked along that recusant path—barely a path at times—each assent comprised of declines. But there were people she met along the way. Some with a word or a song, a garden, a dried plant or a warming fire, until finally while coming through bramble she spied it in a clearing.
Well, luck is a word that can’t encompass. She knew that some of the same few that unwittingly caused her self-critique, that gave her her council of self-reprisal, were also the ones that had given her the experience of being loved—an experience that was somehow prior to her. And now these years later she saw too how this tangle and chaos of grey was leading her to a self-understanding she considered no less a mystery than the metaphysics of beginnings. There was no need to unwind the unwindable, which would injure everything, what remained was to roll with it and befriend it.
Yes, she thought, of course there was no blank slate, none of us start from scratch. And in spite of broken faith, and felt abandonment, mercy, like some blood hound, had followed hard after her. Or better this, she thought: All along that path, carrying on beneath and within and around her was a long line of loving mothers knitting and sewing and patching and hoping.
And something else she knew the moment she came into the clearing, was that the myriad of issues (should she call them issues?) in her life that were always at hand to slug, clot, trip, plague, and confuse her, were merely the incorrigible and spiteful offspring of this one issue—failure to be her own friend.
Looking upon herself as a friend is still new, but already she has seen how her new find has even begun to change the people around her. Little things, but unmistakable, and pleasing.
This morning as she sits within the longest night of the year, she knows well enough that in all those unaccountable ways there will be the disappointments and pain of Christmas, but now, like last night’s new mahogany-stained moon, she has found the sun’s own shadow, and that is enough.