Some days the shadows creep in early, when body and soul feel tender and exposed, human interactions become a chore to slog through, and self-doubt wraps its dark arms softly round and watches every move with coalfire eyes. It's not a feeling of self-being-worthless, but of not being-not-additive: leave, and no one notices that you've slipped away.
Chatting with a friend, she said "I'm the sort of person people mentally put aside."After a pause, without demur, her friend added: "...and you don't even try to shove back in."
She admired the minds and words and hearts of those around her - to the degree that it seemed as if "one jot or one tittle" more would be superfluous and ruin the wonderful symmetry of their language, interrupt the ceaseless flow of humor, unbalance the wisdom that sprang forth from their towering souls. If she stretched out a hand and found no tentative answering fingers, hers would drop, and she would step away to watch and smile and yearn to join from a distance. She did not trust herself to match heights.
It was a hot evening. The smell of chlorine from a pool somewhere drifted enticingly on the almost-still breeze. The phone, thrown with abandon onto the bed, buzzed and hummed in its soft nest. She ignored it and walked to the window - watching the sunset reflected in the glass panes of a window with a view, turning on no lights, hearing the sounds of the world revolve around her. She resolved to go to Mass the next morning. Mass might shake this feeling. She turned on the tv and watched marionette figures creating fantastical dishes as she opened a can of sardines, squeezed lemon over it, and ate straight from the can.
At Mass, she watched the priest with the too-plump mottled face as he gave a homily. The pulpit stood directly beneath a scowling statue of Jesus that seemed incensed at every word the priest uttered, every prayer of the faithful, every thing within its line of vision. The priest's voice belied his appearance - it was like a lilting bird that lifted and dipped, sweet and clear. But his words were out of focus.
"...love becomes the criterion for the definitive decision about a human life's worth or lack thereof,"* the priest quoted.
"Lord, I am not worthy," she prayed. "Say the word," she begged the implacable face.
"...those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men."*
"Please, say it."
After Mass, she genuflected and walked away.
* Deus Caritas Est