I acknowledge. I must admit - as the years weave by - I enjoy my consciously acquired small rituals. I seem to accept these little patterns, or rituals, as part of the time which holds me.
The past years - I have become notorious for late hour reading. I delight in the turning back of my thick, downy peach comforter, the languid movements of pumping my three pillows and arranging them just so - the spraying of exactly two clouds of fine tea-rose fragrance against my white eyelet edged cotton sheets, and then settling in for an uninterrupted journey through pages of another writer's tale of imagination, or adventure. I read until my eye grow weary ... coaxing me, then urging me, then demanding me to give them rest.
It is as though another part of myself stands aside with compassionate eyes and ears - watching me first turn the corner of the book's page down - then, lay it aside, carefully setting it on the table beside my bed. My eyes then cross the room, peering through the soft dark shadows, to search long and hard at my reflection in the armoire's mirror, opposite my bed. Tilting my head, lifting my chin a bit, allowing the golden glow of lamplight to highlight the angle of my cheek bones and jaw-line. I muse each night with a vein of strange sadness, "I'm still pretty ... not as pretty as I use to be." I tilt my head to another angle and study ... thinking, "But ... still pretty ... when I'm not so tired." I then recall the other nights - the yesterday nights - the last week's nights - I have gazed at this mirror reflection, and thought these same thoughts. With gentle amusement I wonder at myself and question,
"Is this what old people do - gaze with weary, dark shadowed eyes - searching for the familiar face of their youth?"
Fighting weariness - I am still reluctant to close the day; the thought, "Another day. They go by so fast now ... and, here I am ... still marching on, living my days as a 'money-maker' - when will I ever be free?"
I picture the composition pages - covered with scratchy notes and chords - lying on my neglected piano ... waiting for me. My gaze moves to the left of the armoire and drops to rest on the brown canvas bag lying on the floor, leaning up against the wall - lumpy with spiral notebooks and mass of typewritten pages - my half finished manuscript ... waiting for me.
"How much time do I have left? There is so much I want to do - so many gifts ... pushed aside ... waiting for me to pick them up and use them .... Surely God will give me enough years to do what I was really put here to do ... won't He?"
These questions swirl though my mind like rain mist ... every night.
Yes, each night I have sought to reassure myself, resisting a wave of panic, managing to hold steady ... while swallowing my fear.
I acknowledge this is a morbid 'good-night' dwelling place of thought - and, I confess, it is laced somewhat with self-pity. Guilt circles me like the singing of an insistent mosquito. I blink and force my eyes to roam around my luxurious bedroom ... while I conscientiously remind myself of all my blessings.
I then reach up - stretching my arm and fingers under the lamp shade to grope for the small black knob. Holding its round bump by my fingertips ... I pause for a few seconds and study my arm ... thinking, "My arm looks as young as it looked when I was a girl ... lean and tan ... yes, the same," and the thought always comforts me.
With a little jerk of my wrist I twist the resisting knob on on the old ivory lamp - grieve, and smile with the awareness that these exact thoughts seem to be the final paragraph of each day.
In the darkness - I remind myself to say my prayers. Carefully, I wrap the hours of night and tomorrow with the protection of first giving thanks for my blessings ... followed by renewed requests for God to watch over my family and hold them safe. They are grown now ... gone ... and out there on their own - traveling their own life's journey . My whispered petition in the night - is all that I can do.
I turn on my side - stretch my limbs and lay my cheek against the coolness of my pillow. I loosen my body and mind and believe He hears me breathe the words,
"He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." ( Psalm 91:ll,12)
Smiling at my child-like faith ...
Rituals complete ...
I drop into deep slumber.
Dallas Beth Williams Gibson 19899