Today I’m posting an excerpt from my new project. Mainly because I was up all night with an ill little redhead, but I don’t want to fall short of my goal to post regularly. So you get a sneak peek of No Name Lane: Diary of an Angel.
We’re all angels to someone, and this story is a journey about returning to love, both from within and without. It encompansses the reality of a greater spiritual world. It’s the foundation of hope and kindness we build within ourselves, how every thought leads to an action, which can lift or teardown. It’s all about choices, and whether we have the courage to make them with complete and total unconditional love and accept such love in return.
Mind you, it hasn’t been through the editor yet, so please forgive any errors. I’m on schedule to finish it by the end of the month to release in late November.
In the early years, sometime around my early twenties, I’d met a woman. The deep creases on her liver spotted skin moved into a near grotesque mask every time she spoke, hiding the rather kind heart buried beneath. She came from a time removed from this world, a society of money where people don’t speak about it because they didn’t need to, it’s implied by the way they carry themselves. It was a world I didn’t know, one I hadn’t seen in my childhood, but she showed me how to live in it.
On a warm spring day, we sat in the garden drinking tea, watching the tender blooms unfurl to capture the morning sun. I served, as was custom in this society for the youth to honor the aged. She smiled with a swaying nod when I asked about sugar and cream. Motions of elegance, the only way to describe her every movement, but then she was raised to embrace economy of expression. Every smile had a meaning, every scowl a purpose, all of it a symphony of language without a single word.
She told me a story once, and I didn’t understand it then, but I do now.
The sensei sat in the center of a rice paper and pale wood room, waiting for his student. A young man wrapped in robes entered whisper-quiet and knelt before him eager to start the day’s lesson. Jasmine incense swirled around the two, a moment of inner calm to steady the heart and mind, and the silence of it rang in their ears, but neither moved.
Finally, the sensei opened his eyes and considered the enthusiastic face before him. “Show me the meaning of kindness, my student.”
And so, the youth scurried away and returned with a bowl of stew. “You haven’t eaten all day, master, please take this stew and nourish yourself.”
Sensei smacked the bowl across the room, and closed his eyes again. “Show me the meaning of kindness,” he ordered.
The young man cleaned up the mess, left the room, and returned with a soft pillow. “Please, master, the floor is hard and your bones are aged. Take this pillow and rest upon it.”
Sensei grabbed it, ripped the feathered stuffing out, and again closed his eyes. “Now, show me the meaning of kindness.”
With slower steps, the youth cleaned the mess, sluggishly walked out, then returned, but with empty hands. He knelt before Sensei, a disheartened frown upon his face, and presented a gift of nothing to his mentor.
The aged master opened his eyes for the last time, considering the youth and his bare hands. A knowing smile full of wisdom graced his lips. He saw the broken spirit of a once vibrant pupil, and recognized the defeat in heart ready to serve the world.
He took the youth’s hands, and said, “No amount of kindness can be offered to those who are unwilling to receive it. You will find, in this world, those who will be unable to accept such a gift, but know it is no reflection of you, my student. But also, do not tolerate cruelty if that is their response. Honor your spirit and offer theirs kindness from a distance.”
Of course, I nodded and smiled as if I understood, but she knew I wouldn’t, not completely. My people pleasing ways, my desire to see the best in everyone would cause far more pain until I learned the lesson through experience.
And humans were like that too.
Sometimes it took living the stark reality of people’s cruelty to fully grasp a concept, and I’d spent many years offering the bowl of stew to everyone and anyone. Not so much as a means to garner favor, but because I’d lived in a pit of deepest darkness as a child. Abuse—physical and emotional, the torment of teasing by children taught too well, love only given under conditions of perfection, the terror of not wanting to fall asleep because I’d relive the nightmare again.
It was more than my winged origins, more than a higher calling, but a sincere desire to present only love because there was too much of the other in this world. But humans thrived on conflict, a contented net of safety they’d grown insecure to release. They understood hate intimately and couldn’t conceive of someone wanting only the best for them. This foreign gift of unconditional acceptance evoked anxiety and suspicion.
She tried to warn me back then. “You have a grace beyond your years, despite the circumstances of your childhood. The world will steal it from you, but only if you let them. My peers would have me broken, even in my aged state, but they’ll never receive such satisfaction. I am victim of nothing, a survivor of nothing. I am now and will always be a woman of means because I choose to be nothing less.”
Again I nodded with no more understanding than I had earlier. Instead, I focused on refreshing the tea and cutting a few roses to place in the vase on the garden table.
She responded with a smile resembling a grimace. “In time, you’ll understand, but promise me you’ll never forget.”
“I promise.” My words holding far less conviction than hers.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking through the garden and house. She’d point out antiques handed down through her family. They had a rich history, reaching back to royalty several generations removed. I enjoyed these moments together, her laughter, her kindness, her quiet lessons. Not exactly a mother or grandmother, but somehow family all the same.
It was the last tea we ever had together. Her family didn’t invite me to the wake or funeral, but I wouldn’t have gone. She asked me not to grieve her, only to remember our time together. My only thought now—how could I ever forget?