Today, if you were wondering whether to drink your afternoon coffee from your granny’s fine china teacup—the one that you love so much, the one that you keep in a safe place? Then do it. Think of the way that your fingers curve around the swelling of the cup, of all the old love that it holds. Think of how her voice will find you right there in your kitchen, the late sun falling on your bare feet. The happy child climbing right out of your tired skin. Please do it.
If you were wondering whether it is ok to love yourself more than you were told you should, then just do it. Start with your feet, the bow of the arch that keeps you grounded, that has kept you standing, kept you from running away when life growls, shows you its teeth. Take some oil, some cream and smooth it in slowly, work your way up to the country of your thighs, the softness, the dimples that you think are a crime. Rub gentleness into your skin, dear God, you are so beautiful, so strong, and they will tell you to live small, aim to be nothing. It’s a lie. Don’t touch it, don’t pick it up and do not take it home with you. Just leave it there. Find your way back to yourself. Let your own hands find their way across your own skin. Start with the places they told you were sin, the heart of everything a woman should never seek. Start there and love yourself. Do it and don’t ever stop.
If you were wondering whether to take a chance and tell that one person that you love them, or perhaps that you are falling over your own feet, your once-broken heart, through the borders of your fear? That you are falling in love with them? Then do it. Open a window, let down a drawbridge, eat a small bit of courage for breakfast. It goes so well with sweet blackberry jam and toast. And then once you have eaten your fill, pick up your phone, a pen, or send a song. Remember this, tomorrow does not have your name written on it, and the one you love doesn’t own it either. They might say, ‘No’, but then again, they might say, ‘There you are. I have been waiting for you all my life. What took you so long?’ Don’t lose out on the chance to be happy, just because you once wore a coat called, ‘rejected’. Tell them how the sound of their voice fills all your broken places with light. Please do it.
If you were wondering whether to climb over the walls of that argument, to stand outside his life, outside her disappointment—you, naked, with only your anger in your hands. Then do it. Anger is a fierce thing, but it is not as strong as you think. If you stay very still, let it come to you, stroke its soft fur, you will see that its second name is, ‘Afraid’, that it cannot look into your eyes until you sit down with it, and say, ‘I see you and it’s ok. You are ok. You are allowed to be here inside of me.’ Try it at least once. Just once. If it doesn’t work, then go home. Perhaps one day they will plant a tree outside your door. They might not. Disappointment has strong roots, but any root can die. Please, do it just once.
If you were wondering whether to give someone a small piece of grace, perhaps you were wondering just how to fold it so that it would cover the smashed bone, the blood, the limping heart, the raw shame of another? Then this is how you do it—you start by putting away your holy words, whatever shape they may be, whatever they taste like, just put them away. This is a good start.
Then you hold it up by two sides—their names are east and west. Shake it out, let the feathers fill every corner, and then you pull it gently over them. You call them by name and not by anything else, you say words like ‘I see you’, and you make tea, fill an old glass jar with wildflowers and you make things beautiful all around them. Chances are, they have forgotten how. Chances are, they have given up hoping for anything but the smell of shame. How soft you are, how beautiful this miracle that you are pulling down from the clouds, from the blue places filled with water. Even more than bread and fish, you are giving second chances, just like the ones you have been given.
If you were wondering? Grace is for anyone, but it fits us all differently. Don’t give them yours. It needs to be made fresh each time, needs to be shaped just right.
Keep yours around your shoulders, and when it is old and frayed, and the sun no longer warms your bones, let it remind you how close you once came to being stoned.
© Liezel Graham 2021.
Image by David Billings, Unsplash.