Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Chapter 17: Unpacking the past, pt 2
He leads the way into my chambers and I see three boxes, two on a smallish marble and iron coffee table placed between the two soft chairs in the sitting room, and a larger box on the floor in front of the table. With Him encouraging me, I sit in the nearer chair and reach into the open, top most box. I cannot actually see into the box as I reach in. I find myself both surprised and yet not, to draw out, first, that doll of many years ago. It is dusty, dressed in faded green velvet. Still, I am stunned; I just sit, staring at it. Finally, I am able to speak, but only in a whisper. "What do I do with this?"
He is standing behind me and He replies, "Why do you keep it?"
The words come slowly, hesitatingly as I respond. "As a reminder, I suppose, as reminder of the pain and dangers in gifts. A reminder not to receive, to keep myself closed, not to risk the pain that opens me to the call of the abyss." Oddly, I am surprised by my own answer.
Moving beside me now, He places His hands on my own, gently, not forcing anything from me. "Is this what you want? Do you need this reminder? Is this what you want to hold?" There is no accusation, no criticism in His tone, just a genuine question to help me see things for what they are. His voice is also filled with compassion and concern tender and more genuine than any I have known.
My first instinct, my first desire is to hide from this issue so I bow my head to avoid His gaze. But as I do, the chimes in my ears ring softly, "My grace, my grace…" And in that song, I know what I want. "No. No, Papa, I do not need this reminder, not any more."
"Will you give it to Me?" by His tone, I know He will not force it from me. The choice truly is mine and He will honor that.
Even though I know I do not want this painful memento, the temptation to hold it back is strong, especially because I know what He will do. It takes a long, long time before I am able to say, "Yes, Papa, I will." It takes even longer to release it into His waiting hands.
Once I do, He wastes no time. He rises from my side and walks directly to the fireplace blazing with a bring, strong flame. I bury my face in my hands, I cannot watch. In His mercy, He does not require that of me. I hear it though as the reminder of my past hurts is consumed in the fire. Unbidden, tears begin to flow even as I try to hide them from Him, fearing His displeasure. But none comes. He walks back to my side and patiently allows me to cry, letting the storm of my feelings pass.
"Why did I hold on to that?" I have to ask, my face still hidden in my hands.
Compassionately laying His hand on my shoulder, He replies, "the flesh knows that things are significant and holds on to them. It cannot discern between that which is helpful and that which is harmful, though. It holds on to both and something that is harmful is often held most strongly. It is hard for the flesh to let go, even when your heart knows it is time."
I knew this process would be difficult, but I wonder how much more so it will become. The thought seems to echo in my mind, making it difficult to calm myself and causing me to wonder if I will be able to continue on. All the while, He is beside me, waiting patiently, not pushing, not forcing. And it is in His patience I find strength and encouragement to press forward still.
Swallowing hard against the uncertainly, I reach for the box again and withdraw an armful of framed photos: a bridal picture of myself, wedding photos, pictures of my husband, children and other family. I desperately want to keep these, but resign myself to release them if required.
I think He knows the heaviness that is threatening to overcome me as He quickly reassures me, "These you must kept. They belong on the mantle where they can be seen and treasured."
Relief floods me in almost a physical wave. I find myself telling Him about the photos. Most are special black and white portraits of my children treasured for how they reveal the heart of each. My bridal portrait puzzles me. "Why does this look so different from the reflection I just saw?"
"Because that is not the same person you just saw." The answer seems obvious, but I think I needed to hear Him say that nonetheless.
He takes them from my hands and clusters them on the left side of the mantle, dusting them as He goes. A tension drains from me as I watch Him realizing that the process is not going to be entirely one of letting go.
Energized by this, I reach for the box again. This time, I find a photo album. Looking through it briefly, I see it filled with photos of ancestors, genealogies, people who I do not know but who are somehow connected to me.
"This is your heritage, both the good and the bad. In time we will sort though to keep the good and release the rest. He explains.
"So should I keep this?"
"Yes, you will write a heritage to your sons there." He explains as He shows me the empty pages at the back of the book. He allows me to silently consider these ideas before I hand him the album. Decisively, He places it in an empty book case to the left of the fireplace.