Sunday, April 17, 2011

Love is a direction

He tells me his shoes are all scuffed from walking. ... Scuffed by the heaviness that make his knees ache under the burden and his arches throb from the extra weight.  His energy depleted, he can barely lift his feet.  Still he walks.  And walks.  With a shuffle.  A scuffed up suffering shuffle. 

At night,  he lays on his side of the bed, his body taut in buzzing anxiety, clenched jaw, tense muscles ... his unsettled heart fibrillating off beat. Erratic thoughts race through his dreams.  He is caught like a fly in a spider web as he volleys between questions and answers.   
 "I'm stuck in a place of indecision,  caused by too many to make," he says, "so I keep walking even in my sleep."

The bed....their now as comfortable as a concrete slab, unwelcoming in its reminder of what had been,  what IS, and what seems to be the conclusion....
He can't think beyond immediacy and it hurts.  From head to toe it hurts.  His present moment has become a slivering doubt, with the lament of the past merging with the heart thumping anxiety of the future.  When he awakes from a dreamless night, his whole body aches from restless wanderings, steeped grovellings of ungranted forgiveness. It takes every ounce of energy not to roll over to face the wall as he makes himself sit up to a wave of unwelcome bile brought on by realization that its over.  It's over. 

But life still goes on despite the grief of his clenched  soul. Work, bills, meetings, appointments, family, errands, responsibilities ... listening to the drab complaints echoing all around him. There's no escaping the hum of a scuffed life.
"I have to maintain the grip," he says, "because if I let go even for a second I will fall off the ledge and break into a million pieces.  I wouldn't be fixable. It would be the end of me." So he holds on, fingertips on ledges, hoping the nightmare will end.

With memorized motions,  he shuffles off to work, his hands closed tightly,  stuffed in his pockets. He walks against the bitter  April wind.  His breathing's short snippy gasps lacks fresh air oxygen.  It shorts out his thinking,  and leaves him clouded in confusion. A clenched soul, stuck in the discomforting transition of change, numbed by too much real, feeling like if he surrenders to his feelings, he will be sucked into a vortex.   Lost in his own miserable meanderings, he rarely registers the world around him.  It's like he's formed a bubble of discontent around his body.  Love can't escape.  It can't get in either.   
For some reason this morning, he looks up from his self absorption and sees two men, homeless and huddled under a ratty wool blanket leaning against the corner of the grey brick wall away from the entrance to the park. Their winter wool caps are moth eaten worn. Their faces are haggard from a tangled hard life. He sees one of the men pull a worn lunch bag out of his jacket  pocket and take out a sandwich. 
Without a word spoken, the man carefully unwraps it, and gives half to his friend to share. As these two ragamuffin men sit in a moment of kindred serenity, oblivious to their surroundings, sharing the only food they have, the clenched souled man stops dead on the sidewalk and stares at them.  The scene pierces through his armour, as he realizes he is witnessing the essence of love. Humanity in its ordinary glory. 

 In a rush of awareness, his warm tears trickle down his cheeks.  His shoulders give way to humble gratitude.  His heart softens as his thoughts percolate with a nod towards what matters and a dismissal of all that doesn't.  In one marked moment, he lets go of the myriad of questions as he realizes he simply has to trust in love. 

Tired and spent but now wide awake, the bubbled of discontent bursts as he catches the eyes of the two friends sharing lunch.  He smiles at them, then wipes his nose on his coat sleeve, inhales the biggest breath of much needed air and walks on towards the little chapel he passes everyday on his way to work. Though empty and silent, the chapel still beckons.
He pulls open the heavy wooden door to find a stream of sunlight dappling through the stain glass and walks over to the pew bathed in the sun's rays. He sits quietly ..... alone .... silent, and realizes his heart pain of loneliness had lifted, replaced with the comfort that perhaps love gets lost in the jumble of complicated feelings that wax and wane.  

Once found, perhaps love is a direction. The guide.  It is how you choose to see life.  It is where you  choose to place your gaze.  He had allowed his feelings along with his stubborn will to shut himself off from the person who loved him the most.  She had done the same. 
He unclenches his hands, and gently lays his fingers together, his palms touching........and looks up at the ceiling.  Despite the uncertainty of the future, he felt a calmness bathe over him and his determination return.  In silent reverence to his new found direction he turns his face towards the beam of  sunlight and whispers the words, "thank you."  

He found the tonic for his clenched soul...... in the sharing of a sandwich.

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