Perhaps oddly, this did not surprise me. I was grateful and had learned to expect the unexpected since leaving my known world for this one. Small, unasked for graces abounded. I was thankful and sat to eat.
Upon finishing, I picked up my plate, thinking to rinse it in the stream. Under it, I found a note. I put the plate aside, opened it and read.
I hope you are recovering nicely and finding comfort here. Many have sought shelter and solace here before you and others will follow your sojourn here.
Do not rush. Rest. Rest. Rest. You will find a box of books under the bed and your other needs will be met in due time.
You may long to dive into a book as you read these words, but I urge you to first use the other gift you find here: set pen to paper and begin to understand why you are here. Free your fears, your wounds, your hopes. After airing them out, you will know whether to re-pack them for the next stage of your journey or perhaps leave some of them here.
You may feel ambivalence, frustration and anger as you think of me. Why did I leave you to walk that high wire alone? We will talk about this, I promise. But even now, you know in your heart that there are paths meant to be walked alone.
I will see you again. In the meantime, I wish you
I slowly refold the letter and place it back in its envelope. Instead of picking up paper and pen, I look under the bed and find the promised collection of books. Amazingly, there are only two that I’ve read, leaving me many to choose from.
I pull out a few, studying the covers, reading the backs, flipping them open to random passages. I select one that feels right and place it on the pillow, then slide the box back into its place under the bed.
Now, I pause. Do I climb into bed with the book or do as Irene suggested and write? If I’m completely honest with myself, I do want to write. It’s having been told to do it that makes me resist. For someone who spent decades following the rules, I certainly chafe at the merest suggestion or hint sometimes.
Still, why should I listen to Irene? She’s one reason I’m here. Part of the reason my feet ache, that I’m alone in an abandoned hut, that I have all of these emotions waiting to be processed on paper. How dare she tell me what to do?!
Stubbornly ignoring the clean white paper and pen, I turn on my side and open my book.