It’s the ache late at night when the endless blank sky looms down at you from an icy window. When your heart cries out for warmth and you attempt everything to stir the embers in your ashen soul.
It’s the empty room that’s left in shambles, abandoned in the years of decay and lack of attention. In the wilting scent of mold underneath rotten floorboards, dust an inch thick stitched around cupboards. The eerie silence that hovers heavy across the air. You survey the remnants of a life once lived, of a soul that used to long and dream and feel. When you cross to unlatch a window slapped shut to keep in the staleness, you step on the broken pieces of your heart scattered across the floor. Funny how you forgot this is where they landed. Funny you even ventured down here, when it’s been a door you’ve refused to cross into for years.
Fingers leave a darkened streak across the wood-stained chair as you swipe the dust dancing in the air, taking a seat where you used to sit with saucer in your hand, cup raised to your lips while steam swirled across your skin. From the square of open window, the brightness of light squeezes your eyes; their shape narrows them to slits. You haven’t allowed the breeze to flow across this room, or for echoes of leaves brushing against the wind to settle in your ears, even to simply stare across a slanting curve of land dimpled by long grass. It’s unfamiliar territory you trek, trepidation at the unexpected way your heart stalled in the doorway, the way you pushed through by some inexplicable compulsion.
A distant, foreign feeling flutters within your breast. Remembrance. How you used to sit and stare out this window at the world moving just past your arm’s extension, colors mingling and streaks of sunlight giving miniscule details a glisten, as dew dripped upon the dawn. How your heart would smile, letting in your dreams and placing them tenderly in line around its chambers. How you believed in your core, that youthful, sparkling core, that anything in this universe was possible.
The clock patched on the green painted wall ticks, one beat after the other, keeping rhythm with the pulse of your heart. It’s an internal battle to stay where you are. Sitting still is a luxury you no longer afford yourself. Still the tiny hands tick on, soothing away the restlessness.
Whatever made you creak down the stairs of your soul and pick up the key hidden underneath the bush overgrown in front of the door? What made you slide the key into the hole, hear the lock click and twist and crack open the first sight of your forgotten self? Why now did some invisible force beckon you into your memory, to take that seat alongside the bookshelf housing all your lost desires, and turn your head to study their spines? You crane to make out the small print stitched into the leather, heart pausing as you read the first title, the second, the third. Soon, red blood rushes around your body. As you take a moment to let your heart breathe, it gulps a fistful of air and bobs along the surface. Your mind grapples with this discovery of life and does not know what to do with it. But it relays a message to your heart to be strong, for now it fights against a death that does not want to let you go.
Look to these books, a whisper spills from the quiet. Take one in your hands and allow your eyes to roam its pages.
Your body constricts, immediately recoiling at mere thought of opening what once led to wounds. You’ve been burned before, on these exact lines laced with dreams, drawn desires. You tried passion, and it punched you in tender places. Which, now come to think of it, is why you tucked this room away from the rest of you, why it’s dug deep into the ground of your graveyard and never allowed to see the light of day.
If you can’t even trust yourself with those scorched spaces, how in the world could they ever be turned to God’s attention? And what of impossible resurrection? Defibrillating the decay of your cold body, broken hopes requires more hope than you’ve fought to string together.
There were reasons you thrashed against these long buried books, against their tantalizing hold, why you threw them on the shelf when the flame of disappointment scorched your hands. Why you told your heart to suicide so it would escape safe from pain.
The thing about the human heart, you slowly realize as the glint of gold letters wink in the window light, is that its resilience bonds to you stronger than its burns.
Simmering in the layers of ash and dust, still it stirs. A distant beat breaks over the silence and the unwillingness to ruin remains. With delicate caution, you tip the cover up and glide your gaze over its opening page. Read the date, study the scratch stenciled in old writing you remember well. Oh, your young and hopeful heart! How wildly it beat beneath your breast, how bright the world awoke in your mind!
How wide the chance of impossibility becoming tangible. Perhaps, you muse with a skip of dormant heart now determined, there is something to be said of your younger life, the one you spread open to the earth in welcome. The way days sparkled and whispered sweetly in your ear, urging you on.
Isn’t it too late to turn again to dreaming?
The thought comes unbidden in the middle of your reading; book snaps shut with sudden imagined guilt, as if being caught unexpected on treacherous soil. Where did that voice come from? What made it rise, commanding?
Slow hands stretch across the belly of the clock mounted on the wall, above the bookends. Time. All we ever get is too little or too much to play around with. Time takes its toll on the watches of your memory, quick to dispel the waves that reach to keep your heart alive indefinitely.
But time is what we need. When minutes pass, they pulse with what may transpire. A holy hot spreads across your skin without needing the sight of sun. Your hands grab another book, blue cracked leather, smooth as stone on your palm. A careful gleam sparks in your eye and you make your way to the armchair nestled in the corner, switch the beam of lamp and illuminate this secret place you now have need to nourish.
This unfamiliar freedom of feeling no longer looms imposing. Dare to trust, the pages coax. Dare to turn over your heart and let your delicate world breathe. Lift the banner of unwavering hope into those deepest, most protected spaces.
Next to you, the key to this old room glistens copper in cream light. Its teeth round and uneven, asking you what you want it to do. With a subtle smile, without exploring why, your mind clears, heart expands. Finger on your favorite page, you pause and pick up the key, a flawed and old fashioned world that so long left you numb. Twirl it in your hand, spinning safe into the One who will not disappoint. You can stake your heart on that.
And you will. So you let the key fall into your shirt pocket, nestled above your breast, reminder that it will never be taken out again to lock out this wondrous world you are now brave enough to face, a faith forged pure enough to trust in the Giver and the good things to come.