A narrative reflection I wrote, on the Wise Old Woman within. 🙏 May she forever be honoured and held close to our hearts.
‘Why the long face?’
The children laughed
As they crowded into the lonely man’s cave.
He stared at them with baleful, bleary eyes
That had long been deprived of the sun.
How did they find him?
In his isolation
He took care to shield himself, long ago,
From the questioning eyes of others.
He turned away from their thoughts and their words,
Whether they were gentle or coarse,
Bitter or well-meaning.
He didn’t want to face
Or their pity.
He didn’t want to face the sun.
And yet …
Now he is surrounded by laughing faces
And bright eyes
As children call out his name,
Exhorting him to rise.
One child grabs his hand,
And the rest, as one, giggle and cajole,
Leading him away from his gloomy cave
And down to a sunlit beach nearby.
‘Sit by the fire and draw a cup,’ one child tells him.
Has been soaking juniper leaves for hours
And the brew is fine.’
They run off to shout and play,
Leaving the lonely man to nurse his juniper brew
His confused mind
And his weary heart.
The grandmother shuffles forward.
Her gait is steady
Her breath is measured
And her eyes are wise.
‘Why the long face?’
Her voice is gentle as she soothes his brow.
‘Can you allow the pain to fall away?
Where the sea ebbs and flows,
In its eternal dance
And my children play by the shore.’
He tells her of the fear that gripped him
He tells her of the great uprising,
And the pain that seared his heart to the core.
He tells her of the love he lost
The friends he betrayed
And the ones who left him when he needed them most.
She beckons him closer and pulls him to her heart
– an embrace he has not known for many years.
After some moments, she says,
‘I have waited, through a vast expanse of time.
And I sent my children to find you
For I knew they would cheer your heart.
Never fear that I could forget you,
Or that we could long be kept apart.’
The juniper brew warms the lonely man from head to toe
And he finds, for the first time in years, that he can lift his head once again:
Ready to turn his face to the sunlight before him.
Ready to find peace on this ancient shore.
‘Woman near yellow petals’ by Edu Carvalho
‘Cave between mounts’ by Ave Calvar Martinez
‘Child holds light’ by Will Santos
🎵 Music: ‘Oceanside Bonfire’ by The Great North Sound Society