Life Sustaining Joy in a World of Thorns

joyindestructible

Every plant that grows and survives in the harsh environment of the desert produces thorns. The cactus is the fittest of those survivors and by brilliant adaptation to the conditions of the desert climate, the cactus clothe themselves in self-protective quills. Attiring themselves in sharp spines prevents them from being trampled and guards against animals stealing their water and eating them as food. Other plants produce stickers that ensure survival of their seed and a new generation of plants. Stickers enable the plants to spread their seed by sticking themselves on the feet and legs of other animals that tread over them. Their ability to stick also enables them to lodge in hard, dry ground and wait for the rainy season. Sometimes, that season doesn’t come for years at a time but the unpleasant nature of a sticker protects it from being eaten by even drought-starved animals and it patiently…

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The Colors of Joy

joyindestructible

Adeline, a little girl raised in a world of dingy grey somehow, learned to dream in color. She was a talented child of limited privilege but gifted with creativity. Her talent to dream beyond her environment was her ticket to survival. Trapped in a home characterized by spiritual, intellectual, and economic poverty, Adeline escaped into the inner, colorful world of her dreams. That special place was the opposite of the deadly vacuum in which she lived and breathed. Adeline’s world was made of vast, rolling, emerald-green hills beneath an azure sky filled with cloudless rainbows. The sun was always shinning but never too hot, it gently, kissed and nurtured flowers reflecting the color of the rainbows above them, in the sparkling sky. Every animal on the planet that Adeline created in her mind was a pet, even bears and lions and the people were always loving and kind. Everything was…

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Menagerie

Welcome to the menagerie of my mind!

Collection I have traversed time to find!

Untamed creatures a one of every kind!

Circus of dreams ideas in passion I bind!

My wild imagination I sent to be refined;

High Def exaggeration in story entwined;

Dash o’ rose hint o’ lime polished shined!

This, my life’s work which daily I do grind.

Compulsion obsession madness confined?

From my depth of soul divinity I’ve mined!

My search for guidance only faith defined;

A purpose to purify menagerie of my mind.

The Meaning of Color

The weaving of chartreuse and lavender is a matter of opinion,

A controversy over the many shades of spring!

Summer moods are translated through subtle hues of vermillion,

Passion’s peak of heat that red-oranges bring!

Autumn sets color free speech in primary hues of truth dominion,

Enter souls by eye-gate beauty inspire to sing!

Color falls to grey as white blanket drapes over every color minion,

Winter wipes slate clean in an icy-dazzle-bling!

 

The Recluse (Part XIII)

“I really don’t know why you invited that Williams woman to our dinner party. Obviously, she prefers being alone to socializing.” Tony scolded Maria while getting plates from the cupboard. “Ey Tony! You are too hard on that poor woman. You should be ashamed. She has been so good for our Alisha.” Maria responds as she always does to Tony’s criticism of others, by pointing out their goodness. Tony comes back as is his habit with self-justification, “Well, I for one am thankful that school is about to start and Alisha will have less time to spend over there. I’ve heard things about that woman’s family and background. No matter how harmless she seems, I’m just not comfortable. You are too quick to dismiss the darker side of people, Maria. She isn’t even a Christian. How can she be the right kind of influence for our daughter?” Maria wiping her hands on a dish-towel looks up into her husband’s face, “Anthony, our Lord requires more than that of us. There is no one beyond His power to mend. Do you remember where He found us? Look what He’s done for us, Tony! He can do the same for poor Estelle!”

Tony silenced by the reprimand chooses not to reply but instead, keep his judgments to himself. Maria’s correction however, triggers memories of his childhood. Shadowy remembrances of a life colored by alcohol, drugs, and abuse; a childhood characterized by spiritual and material poverty. That sad existence that required him to grow up too fast and fashioned him into a protector, the man of the house long before he became a man. The hefty responsibility nearly crushed those small shoulders but somehow, he grew accustomed to it and bore the weight. Now as an adult, Tony doesn’t sense anything wrong in taking on more than belongs to him. He isn’t conscious of being controlling because he sees his actions as necessary to prevent horrors from his past repeating themselves in the present. He is determined not to let any of those things hurt his precious wife and daughter. “Maria is so naïve and trusting. No matter what she says, I am watching that woman. I won’t let my guard down. I could never live with myself if I let…that happen to Alisha.” Tony pushed the flash-back of his childhood trauma to the side, where it constantly resides, influencing every thought and decision he makes.

The tinkling chime of the doorbell brings Tony more fully into the present and with confident strides, he moves into the entryway to greet his first guest. As the door swings open, his eyes catch an emerald flash just as Estelle lowers her eyes to avoid direct contact. Tony misinterprets her shyness and feels his suspicions rise. He thinks to himself, “How can I trust someone who won’t even look at me?”

Estelle finds herself frozen in the doorway, trying to hide behind the bouquet of flowers she cut from her garden, as an offering to Maria. She didn’t imagine Tony answering the door and can’t help but feel his hostility. She tries to speak but croaks instead, “Hello…Mr. Hernandez.” Tony takes a moment to observe this eccentric woman but is unable to clear his mind of past experiences and the town gossip he’s heard. He fails to actually see Estelle but instead, sees a living symbol of perceived threats. Wanting to tell her to leave and never return he forces himself to say, “Good evening, Ms. Williams. Welcome to our home.” Tony opens the door wide and stands back to allow Estelle to enter. “These flowers are for Maria.” Estelle holds the fresh-cut arrangement of red and yellow roses interspersed with baby’s breath out to Tony but then Maria enters from the kitchen and takes them from Estelle’s hand. “Oh, Estelle! How beautiful and how thoughtful of you! I’m so glad you are joining us this evening!” Maria wraps Estelle in a welcoming embrace that soothes her jitters and acts as a shield against Tony’s disapproval. “They’re from my garden. I’m glad you like them, Maria. Thank you for inviting me to your party.” Estelle couldn’t remember the last time she’d been invited to a dinner party. Maria couldn’t know how much her kindness meant to her. Estelle wanted to make her home in those warm grey eyes and the friendship they offered. Maria’s nurturing heart, responding to a deep need in Estelle, causes her to take Estelle’s chin in hand and reply, “You are always welcome here. In the Southwest, where I am from, we have a saying, ‘Mi casa es su casa.’ That translates as, ‘My house is your house.’ Please, think of my home as your own and know that in this place you are loved.” Estelle has never heard such beautiful, kind words. Her eyes fill with tears and neither she nor Maria notice Tony in the background, clenching and unclenching his fists.

Maria finds just the right vase for Estelle’s flowers and after taking a deep breath of Rose perfume, places them at the center of the dining room table. The women chatter as they return to the kitchen to finish preparing dinner. Two couples arrive and the final guest to appear is a handsome gentleman in his early fifties, rounding out the dinner party at an even eight. Maria introduces him as Oscar Lovell and Estelle can’t help but be taken aback by his mature good looks. “I’m so silly.” She thinks to herself after the introduction is past and he moves on to converse with the others. Estelle stands firmly in one place, trying not to be noticed, as she is unable to think of any small talk beyond, “Hello. Nice to meet you.” She wishes she could disappear and wonders what possessed her to think she could belong here. Finally, some relief comes when Maria announces that dinner is served and asks everyone to take their seat at the table. Any sense of calm Estelle gains by following directions is shattered when she finds herself seated next to Oscar. He politely helps her get seated and as he takes his place beside her, she feels her legs quaking beneath the table. Then she catches Maria watching them from the corner of her eye and understands, “Maria, I will let you down. This man won’t be interested in me.” she thinks to herself as she tries to stop shaking.

Over the course of dinner, it is easy for Estelle to discern that everyone but she is a Christian. The talk centers on church, family, and the state of the world. Though all come from varying backgrounds, it is obvious that their mutual faith is a powerful bond. “Relationships built on individual relationships with God.” She thoughtfully considers this new insight while never feeling more isolated and alone. “God, I want that. I want what they have but I don’t know how to get there.” Suddenly, Estelle’s inner dialog is interrupted by Oscar, “Ms. Williams have you lived in Greenwood long?” All eyes turn toward her and finding herself at the unwanted center of attention Estelle stammers, “Umm, ugh, yes. I’ve lived here all of my life, actually. Even in the same house…” Then she blushes and looks down at her half-empty plate hoping these words are enough. Oscar senses her extreme shyness and immediately, feels regret at having caused this beautiful woman discomfort. He also, finds himself wishing he could get a closer look at those beautiful green eyes that only appear in flashes before hiding behind lowered lids and thick lash

“Father? Could she be the one you made for me?” Oscar prays to himself. “I’ve been alone for a long time…but whatever you decide. I’m waiting on You.” He sneaks another peak at Estelle and thinks how perfectly beautiful her hair is against her smooth skin. He wonders if he will ever see her again after this evening. Estelle isn’t unaware of his gaze but interprets it as disapproval of her inability to converse in social situations. “He must think I’m a dolt.” This overly critical inner voice gains volume and expounds upon all the reasons why no man could ever find her worthy of love. Estelle listens to the inner deprecations repeated so often before, is comforted by their familiarity, and nestles in the security of not being forced to move beyond her comfort zone. Suddenly an alien idea invades Estelle’s inner world, “I am my own jailer.” This shocking thought pierces the safety of Estelle’s secret ruminations. Estelle has no idea from where this truth emerged but she can’t deny that it is truth.

Dinner draws to a close with satiated guests stretching and yawning. Estelle sees her chance to exit and says her goodbyes to Maria. They set plans for Alisha in the week to come and as she starts to walk toward the front door, she feels a large hand land gently between her shoulder blades, “May I walk you home?” Oscar asks. “Wha…oh, well I just live next door…but I guess that would be okay.” Estelle is too shocked to answer differently but immediately, wishes she’d spoken otherwise. Then she remembers the jailer and decides to be brave. Oscar opens the door for Estelle and offers her his arm as they negotiate the short journey to her house. Estelle feels very awkward but also, exhilarated. They pause together on Estelle’s front porch under the soft porch light and Oscar gets his wish as she looks up and her green eyes fill his field of vision. Estelle is startled by the strength shining from his eyes. She is transfixed by eyes the unexpected color of clear blue crystal and must take a deep breath before she can speak with composure. “It was nice to meet you, Mr. Lovell. Thank you for your kindness.” She reaches for keys in her purse and when she finds them, Oscar takes them from her hand and opens the door for her, then returns the keys and stands back. “Please, call me Oscar. May I call you, Estelle? I hope to see you again. May I call you sometime?” Estelle feels herself blush as she resists the urge to dart inside and slam the door shut. “Ummm…yes, you can call me Estelle. I guess it would be okay to call me, sometime. I mean yes, I’d like that. I think. Here let me give you my number.” Oscar logs Estelle’s number into his phone and then puts it back into his pocket. “Thank you, Estelle. I look forward to getting to know you.” He turns to walk away as Estelle slips inside and quietly shuts the door.

Once safely sealed within, Estelle drops to the floor and wonders if she’s been dreaming. “Did that really happen? After all these years? What is going on here? God? Are You the one changing everything?” Estelle sits in the dark pondering recent events and marveling at how much her life has changed since she first caught little Alisha spying on her. How could one small girl alter her entire world in this way? “Yes, God I do believe this is Your work. Show me what to do! Show me what you want from me next.” Elated, exhilarated, exhausted but also oddly at peace, Estelle picks herself up off the floor and heads for bed. For the first time in many years, Estelle is excited about her future, and falls asleep dreaming of the possibility of tomorrow.

To be continued.

For previous posts in this series go to https://joyindestructible.com/the-recluse-series/ to find posts listed in ascending order.

Irrelevant?

What if I have written it all away?

All those important things I had to say,

And my creative mind fades in aging?

 

Should this old woman sit silent?

Observing only, as life’s passions relent?

And ambitions fray beyond assuaging?

 

Is this the day I’ve become irrelevant?

A life of experience now, an impediment?

As youths fires of souls in mind raging!

 

Old marries alone; aging artist is eccentric.

Cutting edge technique, an olden-day trick!

Museum dust, archived tomes arranging.

 

Inside this graying head ideas still burn!

Refined, honed, tested, polished; Taciturn,

Waiting for perfect moment, right paging.

 

Old woman’s color fades into the background…

Expert hand trembles to write words profound.

Perfect gems require no salacious packaging.

 

Does age purify the art of the creative?

Or does it stagnate, cease; become vegetative?

Like me, is my art from life now, disengaging?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Recluse (Part XII)

Estelle wakes suddenly and finds herself on her stomach with her head turned sideways staring at bread crumbs scattered over the sheets. “Where am…oh, yeah…” she mumbles as she lifts up to a sitting position and then notices Caravanna sitting at the foot of the bed, looking at her expectantly. “I completely forgot about you didn’t I? You must be starving.” She reaches for her old friend, pulls him close, and looks around the room. “I’m sorry for yesterday but one thing is for certain, I’m going to make some changes around here. It’s time for me to make this house ours, Caravanna. We deserve a home of our own.” Estelle remembers that Alisha will soon arrive and decides she will have her help re-do her mother’s bedroom. She lifts Caravanna and in bare feet, pads toward the kitchen.

The early morning sun streams through the kitchen windows in shafts of pure, golden illumination. The morning sunlight reminds Estelle of her dream on the previous night. She is flooded with conflicting emotions. “What does that old, repeating dream mean? Why is it changing now?” On a deeper level, when she listens to herself, she understands that the house in her dream represents her person and her life. “It’s changing because I’m changing. I’m going to start directing some of that change!” Estelle feels the anger from yesterday begin to rise again but then remembers the icy wind and the darkness that filled her house-dream just before the light appeared. The feeling that came with that powerful negative force was a feeling of hopelessness and death. “I don’t want to become a part of that…whatever it is. I don’t want to hate you, Emma…or you either, Dad…I want to get better. I want that light…” Estelle decides to turn away from her anger and not let it take hold of her as it had yesterday. However, it doesn’t dissipate but is simply, pushed to the side and will have to be reckoned with at a later date. She feeds Caravanna, finishes her breakfast, and then goes to dress and prepare for Alisha’s arrival.

“Hi, Ms. Williams! How are you, today?” Alisha rushes in the door with a big hug for her mentor. Estelle warmly accepts Alisha’s offering of love and is grateful. “Good morning, sweet Alisha. I’m so glad you’re here.” Alisha baths in Estelle’s approval and asks, “What are we doing today, Ms. Williams?” Estelle lightly strokes Alisha’s hair back from her face and answers, “Today, we are going to remove the decorations from my mother’s room so that I can re-decorate it and use it as my room.” “Oh…” Alisha doesn’t know how she should respond so, she stops. “Follow me and we’ll get started.” Estelle takes Alisha’s hand in hers and leads the way to the end of the hall.

“It’s so beautiful in here, Ms. Williams. Why do you want to change everything?” Alisha asks as she gently touches various fabrics and enjoys their textures. Estelle’s immediate reflex is to freeze. She’s responded in this fashion, to questions about her mother for her entire life. Immobilization works well in helping her take time to formulate the right answer (the answer that best deflects from painful family secrets) but this time, Estelle decides to simply tell the truth. “I’ve been very sad since my mother died, lost really. I spent my whole life taking care of her and when she died I lost my purpose. I tried to hang onto her, to my reason for living, by turning this house into a kind of shrine to my mother. Now, it’s time for me to put the shrine away and make this house my own.” That truth tore from a deep place at the center of Estelle and once spoken, left her so drained that her legs buckled and she had to sit down. “Are you okay, Ms. Williams? I didn’t mean to upset you!” “I’m fine, Alisha. None of this is your fault. It’s just how I am right now.” Alisha runs to the kitchen and returns with a glass of water, relishing in the opportunity of being needed. “Oh! Thank you, Alisha! You are a sweet, good girl!” Alisha beams in response as the cool water returns color to Estelle’s face. “I’m better now. Let’s get started. There are some boxes in the closet. First, we will get rid of some of the froo-froo and pack it away. After that, we’ll take down the drapes.” Estelle is motivated by the desire to begin a life of her own as Alisha relishes helping this woman she admires. Their combined energies make quick work of creating an austere space from decadent opulence. “Are you going to leave the furniture?” Alisha asks. “Some of it but most of it is too fancy for me. I like simple beauty.” Alisha doesn’t know what that means but likes the way it sounds. Alisha decides in this moment that she will be an artist when she grows up and will surround herself with ‘simple beauty’. “I can’t wait to see what it will look like!” Alisha exclaims. “Well, we still have some things to get rid of first, like the bedding and all these frilly pillows. After lunch, we’ll look at some charts and you can help me pick paint colors. Or maybe, some wall-paper…it will be fun!” Estelle is elated by the movement of action based on a sense of claiming her life as the result. Though this search will prove harder than redecorating the only house she’s ever lived in, there is no other action for her to engage in at this moment and being engaged is exhilarating. Movement is a relief from the stagnation holding her in its grip for so long.

It’s a hot, muggy afternoon in Greenwood but Estelle and Alisha seem oblivious as they sit on the back deck and pour over paint charts. The roses are in full bloom now, red, pink, yellow, and Estelle’s favorite, peach. Their perfume permeates the back-yard and subliminally, affects the color choices the two friends are making. Together, they decide on a warm, peachy beige trimmed in cream. Estelle also, chooses tea-stained-rose wallpaper for an accent wall behind her bed. Somehow, it seems to her to pay a tribute to her mother but is also, subtle and sophisticated and more in line with Estelle’s tastes. She touches the sample gently and allows herself a moment to feel the emotion of longing it evokes. She says within herself, “I’m not ready to completely rid myself of you, Mamma.” As if reading Estelle’s mind, Alisha asks, “What was your mother like, Ms. Williams?” Estelle startles and then stiffens into the habitual freeze-response, “Well…she was very pretty and she wanted beautiful things.” Alisha’s head tilts to one side in puzzlement, “Did she do all kinds of things for you, like Mamma? Did you bake cookies together? My momma lives for me you know. Was your mom like that?” Estelle is too uncomfortable to contain herself and suddenly, stands straight up, wanting to run, “No, Alisha. My mother was nothing like Maria. My mother didn’t take care of people. My dad and I took care of her. In some ways, my mother remained a little girl for her entire life. Forgive me Alisha, but I can’t talk about this anymore today. I’m exhausted. Why don’t we just relax and watch a movie or something, until it’s time for you to go home.” The idea of a mom who needed to be cared for was stunning to Alisha and it filled her with questions she couldn’t ask but she filed them away for later. “Okay…I’m tired too. I’m sorry I made you sad.” Estelle is emotionally drained and can only respond by hugging Alisha to her side and leading her to the front room. The usually, perfect room is still in disarray from the afternoon before; they kick of their sandals and make a cozy seat as Estelle clicks on the television. They find “Little Women” playing on Netflix and lose themselves in the intricacies of relationships, as this lonely woman and little girl grow a deeper bond in the silence between them.

“That was an interesting, olden-time movie, Ms. Williams. Thank you for watching it with me and for everything. I think I’m late. I’d better go.” Alisha declares. Estelle has difficulty extracting herself from the movie and her thoughts but silently, rises to escort Alisha to the front door. “Did you forget anything, honey?” she asks while opening the portal to the outside world. “No…oh! I did forget something! My mom wants to know if you can come over for dinner on Friday! She will call you but I’m supposed to tell you now, so you can think about it. I hope you will come!” Estelle is too worn down to commit either way, “Yes, Alisha. I will think about it and wait for your mother’s call.” Alisha gives Estelle a quick hug and runs toward her house. Estelle watches until she reaches the front porch and then closes the door.

Estelle leans back against the door with her eyes closed, hearing the familiar silence; as she contemplates the utter black hopelessness of her dream and how it was invaded by that light. “I am so confused right now but I know I want that light!”

To be continued.

 

For previous posts in this series go to https://joyindestructible.com/the-recluse-series/ where posts are listed in ascending order.

 

 

 

 

Survivor’s Prayer

If I am still alive when the bitter cloud passes, may I not I not be found stubbornly clinging to the storm because I’ve adapted myself to misery. Instead, may I celebrate in sunlight as I embrace the sparkling new day the sun reveals. Let me move forward to clean up the damage left by the storm and not be stuck hanging on for survival long after the storm has passed. A powerful storm forever transforms the landscape and the lives of those who survive but help me, Lord to accept and embrace the transformation. May the storm not live on in me in thoughts that exist in loops and refuse to move forward. Make me mindful of the present and keep me from reliving terrifying moments and even repeating them by my actions. I do not want to be a storm bearer, a manufacturer of the misery I survived. Instead, help me share the hope that enabled me to endure. May I be an image bearer of you, Jesus the one who made my survival possible. It is to you that I cling in the midst of every storm. I cling to you now, even though the sun is breaking through the clouds because I need you in good times as well as in bad. I remain tethered to face new storms that soon will appear on the horizon. Even if one of those storms should take my life, I know my soul is secure in you, Jesus. Though I die, I will live. I should never fear the storm but when I do, Jesus, you are always there to comfort and strengthen me. You are there to lead me forward when danger has passed. In you I have hope even, on those dark days when I can feel no hope, joy, or peace. Even when I let go of you, Jesus, I know you are holding on to me. Thank you, Jesus for this gift of faith by which I endure all things to also, overcome. Amen.

Primrose Dream

Enchanted by a Primrose dream in June…

A perfect dewy morn,

Sun adorns! I awake by Meadowlark tune!

No summer will I scorn!

Take my hand old man, still a honeymoon…

Our old love newly born,

In every passing season and many a moon!

Every wrinkle care-worn,

My dear old man hold me and let’s spoon!

Apart may we not be torn!

Together so long, souls and hearts attune,

Without you I die forlorn…

I will follow you! Even as far as Neptune!

Taken by one blackthorn!

Should our Primrose dream turn maroon…

Hold me! We’ll be reborn!

On an eternal dewy morning forever June!

 

 

 

The Recluse (Part XI)

“Thank you for taking me to church with you, Maria. I enjoyed it very much.” Estelle opens the car door to step out onto the sidewalk in front of her house and Maria gets out of the car too. “You are very welcome, Estelle. We love your company and I so appreciate what you are doing for Alisha.” As if on cue, Alisha jumps out of the car behind Estelle and gives her an unexpected hug. “Thank you for coming to hear me sing Ms. Williams!” Estelle gasps at the surprising embrace but then accepts it and returns the favor. Maria hugs her in turn and Estelle feels an old ache momentarily fade. It’s been a very long time since she’s felt a human embrace. “I will see both of you soon.” Estelle bends to peer into the car where Tony sits behind the wheel, “Thank you, Mr. Hernandez. Have a wonderful afternoon.” Tony nods in ascent and then looks straight ahead, “Come along Maria…Alisha. We need to get going.” Mother and daughter get back into the car as Estelle walks toward her front door.

Estelle opens the door and is enveloped in the isolation she’s sheltered in for such a long time. The emptiness feels safe and familiar but also, frightening and all consuming. She looks around at the immaculate, perfectly decorated house and has a sudden urge to dirty it up and make it look like someone actually, lives here. Determined but not really understanding the force impelling her to action, Estelle defiantly strides into the living room, looks at the portrait of her mother, and begins tossing expensive, artfully placed cushions from the sofa and chairs willy-nilly and even on the floor. Then she kicks off her shoes, lets down her hair and carelessly, flops down on the beautiful blue sofa. She stretches out as for a nap then reaches for a perfect rose pillow to support her head as she stares into the painted eyes of her deceased mother.

Those eyes leave Estelle feeling frozen. “How many times did I reach for you, Emma? How many times did I need a mother and even though I could see you and touch you, my mother was never there?” In a flash, Estelle understood herself as having always been an orphan on the emotional level. In fact, she’d been forced to be a mother to Emma from the time she was a small child. “Was I a good mom, Emma?” Estelle yells at the portrait as tears begin to spill. Then she remembered what the preacher said in church that morning about somehow, being able to have a parent-child relationship with God because of Jesus’ death on the cross. The idea of having such a relationship is very appealing to Estelle but it doesn’t make sense to her. She also, remembers the words of Jesus and the validation she felt upon reading them. “Emma! Do you know or care how much pain your drinking and constant neediness caused me? Do you know how hard Dad and I worked to keep your drinking secret and how much life we lost trying to protect you? Were you ever aware of what people said to me or what our neighbors thought?” With tears streaming, Estelle counted all she’d lost to Emma’s drinking and the black hole that drinking was used to anesthetize. Much of her childhood was consumed in that hole and even more of her adult years after her father passed. “Even now Emma, you steal my life from me because you never had a life! You never became a whole person! You used me to live for you and I’ve never lived for me either…” Estelle fiercely wipes the tears from her eyes, “I’m going to find a way to be more than the arms and legs of Emma Williams! I want to be a whole woman and live my life!” Estelle moves a few more objects out of place, gives Emma’s portrait a hard stare, and leaves the room.

It’s anger that gives Estelle the energy to move despite these new inner revelations. It is also, anger that numbs and gives her the fortitude to fight her excruciating, emotional pain. In the sanctuary of the only bedroom she’s ever known, she removes her church clothes and puts on her favorite pair of yoga pants and a big t-shirt. Then she goes to the bathroom to wash her face and pull herself together. When she catches her eye in the mirror, she gives herself a hard stare much like the one she unleashed on the portrait of Emma. “I-want-more!” she states firmly just below the tone of a shout.

In the kitchen, Estelle makes a sandwich as she recalls the words she heard in church that morning and remembers the warmth of friendship she’d enjoyed with Maria and Alisha. “Relationship. That’s exactly what’s missing in my life.” Estelle counts the relationships she was never able to enjoy, the school-chums that couldn’t come over to play or for sleep-overs; then later, the young men who could never find room in her life because her life belonged to her mother. “Now, I’m left alone and I don’t know how to connect to others because I never learned.” This truth comes down cold and hard but also, clarifies the solution. “I need to learn how to relate to people.”

Estelle takes her sandwich and a glass of milk with her as she goes into her office for her lap-top. Thinking she will lay down on her bed and catch up on some reading, she starts to enter her bedroom but then suddenly turns and decides to use Emma’s room instead. Pushing decorations aside, she puts her things down and rips open the bed. The frilly comforter lands on the floor where it stays and Estelle builds a comfy seat for herself from the pillows. She opens the curtains to let the sunlight in and then settles in bed to finish eating, not caring about the crumbs spilling all over the expensive satin sheets.

“If I want to know who Jesus is, I guess I need to read the Bible.” Estelle doesn’t own a Bible but quickly finds one online. Not knowing where to start, she decides to begin in Matthew, the book from which they’d read that morning. Estelle reads all of the Gospels and is transfixed by the person of Jesus described in those pages. “Such an ancient story that touches my heart in a way I don’t understand.” Estelle whispers to herself but also, to God. “He suffered so much but He stayed true to You and You were always there for Him. What a wonderful relationship. God, I don’t know what I have to do exactly. I don’t really understand but I want that relationship. I want You to be my Father too. I am all alone and I need You!”

Estelle closes her lap-top, pushes it to the other side of the bed, then sinks down off the pillows, and drifts off to sleep. Before long, she is wandering from room to room in her house-dream. She is a little girl to whom the house of her childhood though small, appears very large. The house is cold, empty, and Estelle lost, meanders circling from one silent room to the other, calling for first her mother and then her dad. There is no answer. The house is filled by an arctic wind and then goes black. Little Estelle shivers in the dark fearing she’ll also, disappear in the void; when suddenly, a bright light appears!

To be continued.

For previous posts in this series go to https://joyindestructible.com/the-recluse-series/ where posts are listed in ascending order.