Monday, March 2, 2009

The Box

Many have desired her
The High Priestess of Winter
The January Queen.
But alone she stands
By choice
Separate and aloof
Smiling tolerantly at the efforts
To win her heart
That had long ago frozen.

She springs from her Winter warmth
Delighted with every quest unsatisfied
The proclamations of love
The symphonies of devotion
Each as insincere as the next
Secret hopes of what can be gained
Does she ever sense.
Easily she dismisses one after the other
Forgotten once out of sight.
Idleness rules her days
Content she is to live this way
For it is the only life she remembers.

Until one day the stranger comes
And something unknown inside her stirs.
Deep within the ice a crack appears.
Her arms fold tightly around her waist
To keep herself strong
To stop the stirring.
She wants him to go away
Afraid of what might happen next-
For if merely standing before her now
Can cause the ice to crack
What would happen with a word?
With a smile?
With a touch?

The woman trembles at the thought
And speaks to make the thought fade
Asking what the stranger desires.
“To love you is all I ask,” is his answer.
She laughs
Her eyes remain cold
“That’s what every man wants,” is her response.
“Only there are always strings attached.
Do not play this game,” she warns
“You cannot win.
My heart is no longer here.
It is a thing of legend
Of what may have existed
So many years ago
Even I cannot claim to know
If the legend is true.
Do not play this game.
You cannot win.”

There is wistfulness in her voice
She does not recall being there before.
It is uncomfortable.
It is revealing.
And he has not spoken a word.
Instead he chooses to look
And in his look she is no longer
High Priestess of Winter.
Instead she is made woman.
She wonders if he is different
And turns him away
Frightened by his look
Intrigued by his look.
This time when the man leaves her sight
He is not easily forgotten.

The next day he returns
And in his hands is a gift
A box tightly wrapped in gold ribbon.
She laughs
And her eyes remain cold
Even as she rips the trimming off
And tosses it carelessly aside.
Then lifting up the lid
She cries out in anger
“A joke, a joke. You think me a fool.
Your box is empty, sir.
Leave my sight.”

He bows.
She sees a look in his eye-
How dare he feel that toward her?
She calls him back and demands to know
Why the box was empty.

He clears his throat.
“It is not empty, my Queen,
To eyes that will seek.”
He leaves.
She did not dismiss.
And the crack grows into fissure.

The next day he returns
And again he bears a gift.
This time she does not laugh,
Though her eyes remain cold.
With trembling hand
Which she cannot control
She removes the ribbon
And tosses it aside
Though not as carelessly this time.
And lifting up the lid
She cries out in frustration
“It is empty.”
And across his face-
And as he turns away he speaks
“The box is not empty
To those who will knock.”
And the fissure deepens
To become a crevice.

A third time he comes through the door
With a box more elaborate than the others
Offered as a gift.
She takes it carefully in her hand
And unties the ribbon
Placing it gently to her side.
Then opening the lid
She cries out in despair
“It is empty.”
She dares not see
How he looks at her now
Cannot bear the disappointment
Of not measuring up.
A hand lifts her face.
A tear drops from his eye
She stares but does not understand
The look on his face
When he says-
“The box is not empty
To those who will ask.”
Again he leaves.
And the crevice becomes a gulf.

The next day she waits
And the day after that
And her suitor does not come.
She tries to hide away from the pain
But the ice has cracked
The ice is melting
And now there is nothing to fill the void
Where once ice had kept her
And alone.
She lines up the boxes
And tries to see
What could possibly be inside
While deep in her head
She mulls and ponders
She contemplates and wonders
What the riddles the man had to offer
Could possibly mean to her.

For a week she stares
At mere boxes disguised as gifts.
All the while wondering
Where the man could have gone.
His claims of love
Becoming a wish
And a scar –
Something to be longed for
To regret not having
And at the thought of never seeing him again
A tear falls from her eye.

She is surprised
It has been so long since she last saw one
Escape from the well-hidden confines
She once called a heart.
She holds the tiny drop on her finger
And wonders what is happening
When another drop joins the first
Until at last she allows them to flow
And admits to being human.
Then the gulf becomes an abyss.

Another week passes by
And the January Queen
Wonders what must become of her
For she is unworthy
And perhaps undeserving
Of the gift of her suitor’s love.
She is grateful he is gone
Never to see what has become of her.
For what was in her
Precious or valuable?
Nothing, she knows to be true.
He offered her gifts
No strings attached.
But there was nothing for her to return
Nothing to give him back.
And the abyss grows into a dark, black void.

Until the day a hand reaches out
And lifts her face.
She cries out
“This box is empty.
Leave it alone
There is nothing in it to love.
There is nothing to
Give back to you.”
And she hides her head in shame
In regret
In despair.
He takes her hand
And as he speaks
Something stirs once more.

“The box need not be empty
For those who will seek,
For those who will knock,
For those who will ask.”

He lifts her up
He holds her close
And something happens
That has not happened
In a very long time.

She feels the beat of her heart.

And the January Queen
Cries out, “I seek.”
And warmth trickles in –
Not the winter’s warmth
She has always known
But the warmth of spring
Of renewed hope
Of rebirth
Of love.
The void begins to fill
Until it is only an abyss
And the abyss becomes a gulf

Again she cries out, “I knock.”
And her body is on fire
With the warmth that will always burn
Keeping her heart beating.
She rejoices in the rhythm so long forgotten.
The gulf is filled
Until it is only a crevice
And the crevice becomes a mere fissure.

At last she cries out, “I ask.”
Power surges through her
Helping her feel more alive
More aware
More content
Than she has ever been before.
And the fissure dwindles
Until it is only a crack
At last the crack is filled

She whispers, “I love.”

And the Savior holds her close
As she listens to the beat of her heart.

To those who will let Him in
The box is not empty.