I was born in a family of beautiful women. They all seem to wield their loveliness as if they had magic wands, touching whomever they wished, coloring all the gray in a wash of watercolors. Gorgeous was easy to them, and somehow I missed their lessons. I never learned what they knew. I don't know how to enchant. I cannot break a man's heart.
But when I was a girl, before any man had made love to me, I met a most romantic Carpenter. He never made me feel self-conscious. To Him, I was altogether lovely. He didn't mind that I am quiet and reclusive, that I'd rather dream than wash dishes, or that I am mostly ruined for a normal life. He just loves me, inexplicably, and His love is wrapped in the most exquisite mystery.
But I thought I'd miss something if I gave myself wholly to Him. I would never bear a child. I would never see hunger for my love in a man's eyes. So, I walked away from my Beloved, and walked into the arms of man. Then another, and another. I remember my twenties sadly, thinking of all the men I lay beneath, hoping each would be the perfect love. All of them disaapointed me.
I wanted the Carpenter back, but I walked so far away that I could hardly remember where He lived anymore. Like the Shulamite woman, I heard my Beloved knock at the door, but I didn't rush to let him in, and when I'd finally flung open those doors, I didn't see Him standing there anymore, and I went out into the streets searching for him. And like her, I was mocked and I was beaten, and I begged anyone who would listen to tell me where He was. Have you seen my Beloved? My Beloved is gone from me. My back, even now bowed, remains curved in grief.
I guess I was fortunate to have found a man that really did believe that I was lovely. Sometimes, his love was so big and so beautiful, he made a believer out of me, too. I married him, but his was not a perfect love. He was my love, but not my Beloved.
* * *
The year I turned 40 I dropped 40 lbs that I swore I'd never gain back again. I pulled together scraps and remnants of beauty that I'd gathered over the years, and made a patch work quilt to cover my soul. I wore lipstick that lasts all day. I wrote poems and gave my heart and words to whoever would come. I made love like I meant it. I found my first, and heard him say "I love you" to replace the words he'd broken my heart with. Like the Colored Girl Who Considered Suicide Because the Rainbow is not Enuf, I found God in myself, and I loved Her fiercely. That was the year I turned 40.
* * *
I look in the mirror and I am surprised by the middle aged woman staring wide-eyed and bewildered back at me. I am 41. I am soft and heavy and my clothes don't fit. I seemed to have stored food for the winter like a hamster. I wear my grief as fat, padding my fragile heart. The fat keeps me from seeing it. It is an armour of sorts. I realize men don't look at me, and I grieve not ever really knowing if they'd ever looked at me at all. I grieve being the woman plastic surgeons get rich off.
* * *
Money in my hand and I realize there isn't much I want. Maybe a few books. Maybe a nice icon. I'd like some golden toe rings, because it pleases me to have pretty feet. I don't even spring for a pedicure. I'm a simple woman, really. Nobody notices me, whatever beauty I may have dreamed I once had, faded almost imperceptible. Like the light at twilight becomes a blush and then it is dark.
Money in my hand and the only thing I want is Jesus. I have had enough abuse and disappointment and running from His romance for a life time. I want to marry Him. I want to make love to Him, and hear Him whisper His secrets to me on my bed at night. I lay before him, and hear Him say, "I want to hear your secrets. I want you to ravish Me."
Money in my hand and I want something to remind me of this love play between my Beloved and I. I search for days for just the right thing. A posey ring. Yes, that's what I want. My wedding band for Christ. I special order it, a plain gold band with the words, "I am my beloved's. My Beloved is mine." It is perfect.
* * *
The last day of the year and children and music and laughter swirl about me. All the things I asked God for right here, even the children I thought He was too jealous to allow me to have. I sit typing on the computer, remembering my First Love. Thinking of how I always look like I'm sitting in candlelight with love in my eyes--that's how He sees me. I am stunning to Him. He's says touching my face, "I can't wait to get you home."
* * *
I don't have any new year's resolutions. I am in Love, and tonight, there is nothing that I need.
I leave you with a poem that expresses everything I feel right now. It was written by a woman who as a child was separated from her parents, kidnapped and sold to a brothel. For years she was forced to sell, to whomever would pay, what was meant for her true love, but like me, she found her Beloved. She held him until she died. Her name was Rabia.
The poem is simply called One Day:
One day He did not leave after
I say to you. He is here. He is kissing me right now.
Happy New Year.