Yesterday the world glittered in shades of purple and gold – a whirl of masks, music and brightly feathered crowns. Everything I wanted was within grasp, yet I wanted more. Today life is gray and I wear ashes on my forehead. Sinking into contemplation by the light of a dying fire, silent prayers conjure a waking dream.
I am lost and shivering beneath the ghostly branches of a sycamore when the sudden rustling of leaves startles me. Forgetting that snakes go underground in winter, my body recoils, and then relaxes when a tiny brown bird pops into view. The sparrow hops merrily through the shriveled leaves, foraging for grubs and dried berries. This perky little customer seems sure of finding what she needs in the dull, empty forest. Faith was once my instinct as well.
Seized with the notion this one-ounce creature can save me, I follow her up a steep ravine. She finds a resting place on the edge of a cliff, her body puffy and round in the cold air – a soft, feathered ball nestled in a swirl of dry leaves. I pounce, longing to feel her tiny heart beating in the palm of my hand, wanting to brush my dry lips against her soft wings. She escapes my greedy fingers.
A rush of regret fills my belly, sending me to my knees on the edge of the precipice where she takes flight. Forgive me, I whisper, letting go, if just for a moment, of all the wanting within me.