(from a writing prompt, L.H. in NM: “Pay attention to something for 10 minutes, then write about it for 20 minutes”)
St. Francis sits stoic, almost wooden, on the stump of a tree. I could swear he was made of wood, for, were he really St. Francis, would not the birds who chatter in the branches overhead come instead to light upon his hooded head? His hands are folded, one over the other. Would St. Francis sit so still? Even the lines of age entrenched around his cheeks resemble the grains of wood, as though time had carved his face from the trunk of the tree he sits upon.
Most insulting, though, to me, is that he won’t even look at me. He stares beyond, with fixed gaze, as though some other bird were more colorful, some other bunny with a cuter tail. The deep lines across his forehead suggest worry. Compassion perhaps…not meant for me. I picture him like this, 20 minutes from now, unchanged. Should I stay, just in case? I picture him like this four months from now, the shoulders of his robe dusted in snow, his eyes still unblinking.
Me, I pray to be seen. Please St. Francis, God, my Father, my Mother, my brother, my sister, my lover, please, St Francis, gentlest of Saints, turn your gaze my way. Don’t make me sit in pretense anymore, don’t make me put on make-up, panty hose, a flowing skirt. Must I twirl and dance and flirt? I spent my life hidden in plain view, and I liked it that way. Better hidden than pretending. But I languished there in pain ~ between fully being and fully hiding.
(Whoa, St Francis! Did you send that fancy bird just now? Is that you? God? You surprise me in the most beautiful and unexpected ways!)
What was I complaining about, oh yes – the wooden church, the wooden parent, the wooden St. Francis sitting on a stump…
But God, the bird, the real, just flew into the late afternoon glowing sunlit tree with tail of deep red fire and wings tinted green, then dove down near my head and flew on by.
God is not wood. My heart will not become a stone.
Apparently, this is all the seeing that I need.
I’ll be damned, St. Francis, you of wood, what magic in those eyes….