Judy's okra, August 2011
The Telling That Changes Everything XXVI.
August 26, 2012
You have to trust it,
let it take you into a whole new place in your
life and in the lives of other people, a new room
where communion is frequent and possible,
where people love the characters you’ve
created and hunger for the wisdom you’ve
locked into words, made alive in stories
they will search out far into the future, long
after you are dead. – The Telling That Changes Everything XIV.
What is this new room then? It’s
a room of my own, but in a different
sense than in Virginia’s sense. A new
room in the House of Man, in the
dwelling place of human beings.
I have words to give and a new room
in which to put them down on paper
where they will be read and loved,
where they will shape lives, all this
very quietly. The potency is in the
words not spoken, yet the words
themselves reassure. A new role
that yet has been with me from the
beginning, that sense that never left
me once I came of age in a spiritual
sense. One professor who showed off
and seemed both fake and fierce to me
yet gave me a picture of what has
happened that I’ve never forgotten:
a woman, naked on top of a mountain
not worrying about her nakedness.
Below her, as far as the eye can see,
people–all kinds and conditions,
all colors, ages, ethnic and economic
backgrounds–in short, the human
race, and the only race we have–
all looking up at her, and in their eyes
hope, while she looks at them and
loves them. In her soul is pure
compassion. That is a spiritual
pinnacle I never expected to reach,
much less to be. Curiously, now,
with a shock, I realize I’m there.
It’s not anything to make a noise
about, and yet I must say to myself:
yes, this is the new room. I’ve
known this role at times, but all
the separate pieces have never all
knitted themselves together. Yet
this new book does it. I can tell by
what people say, by how it moves
them, also by what they don’t say.
I have learned to listen to the
silences, too. I’ve been alone a lot
these last nine months, asking people
to let me be, let me write. They have.
At times I’ve been lonely, but my
soul grew fast like an okra stalk
in late summer sun, rising higher,
its big leaves stretched out. Now
it bears me fruit. I see where I
walked blind and blind-sided. I’m
still me--in most ways, unremarkable,
and yet my life has shifted into
perfect focus. Yes, my new room
has people in it. It’s about community.
It means accepting my fate, that is
to say, my gift, to go naked into
the world and heal people because
I see and love them.