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Inspiration from a Stranger. (music by Yanni)
Until the Last Moment
Words can transform us
More than two decades ago, a friend passed me a page from a magazine and said simply, "I know you'll appreciate this." Thanking her, I placed it in my pocket as I hurried back to my office.
It wasn't until after five hours of verbal sparring, and some researching, that I kicked off my shoes and reached for my cold coffee. Another day, another headache.....let me see, what was that Denise handed me?........I began to read the crinkled page........
After awhile you learn, the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning and company doesn't mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead, with the grace of a woman, not the pout of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today, because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans.....And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile, you learn that even sunshine burns if you bask too long. So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn.....that you really can endure, that you really are strong, and you really do have worth.
And you learn......and you learn......with every good-bye......you learn.........
I was thoroughly entranced by the words I had just read, I wanted more. But all that was left was one bottom line, in parenthesis......(Norah......an anonymous woman in a Massachusetts prison)
Twenty plus years later, I vividly recall the thoughts that entered my mind. I recall unexpected emotion at that moment. I read it again.....and again.
I wanted to know this stranger named Norah, and so, I envisioned her. Imagining her, I could speak to her. The Norah of my imagination looked like so many young women I knew, even me. Her words, echoed words I'd heard before, softly uttered within my head. I felt her despair and confinement of a prison, yet the awareness and audacity to empower herself with hope and wisdom.
I found myself needing to confess that I was consumed by a self-imposed prison for many years. I began to accept that I myself may hold the key to be freed from this nightmare. But like a woman who had been confined, whose heart had been wrapped and placed aside, I feared liberation into a world of living with freedom.
And so, I saw that Norah was you and she was me. I could boldly ask her how a woman of such eloquent words and profound dreams, would be sharing her knowledge through steel bars from a cold, damp prison. I would ask her if she found a sense of self-worth and consciousness of purpose by pitting her soul against her memories of the depths of hell. Is it only while in darkness, we search for light? I could hear Norah's voice as she spoke to me.
"I sense your curiosity and feel your need to understand my circumstance. I see confusion in your eyes, yet compassion for my tortured soul. I believe my words have awakened the dormant desires of the woman within you. It frightens you to see how real she truly is.
You must not cry for me. I am building a stairway from Hell toward freedom once more. I prepare now to live again, protected by all the truths of life I have learned. I am finally strong enough to embrace the realness and wholeness of my being.
You have been where I am, where I have been and where I am going. You have fallen and broken and felt pain. You ran beyond your imagination and have seen through the veil of denial. All this and far more we can know if our hearts are softened and our eyes wide open.
Yes, Norah......we learn to plant our own garden and decorate our own soul.....and we learn that we are strong and really can endure. We have worth and we learn....and we learn.....