There are days when you feel raw – as if part of you has been stripped right out by an invisible talon-like hand; the very fibre of you, insubstantial as melted glass, quivering on the road among the cast off sweet wrappers and weekly bus tickets with no more rides to go.
When you feel that raw you know that this is the moment where you could give up and it would be alright – acceptable even – because no one is expected to put up with feeling that raw.
And then the little kindnesses come. The unexpected email bringing better news. The muffin left on the doorstep from a baking-obsessed friend (still warm.) The magpie lark you haven’t seen for months, tentative in the garden. The little girl across the road, proud and shy in her striped stockings.
You go out into the world, the world that leaves you raw and you see him. The man with the burned face. A man you helped once when people were being cruel. A man you do not know but whom you have known for years. A man you must admit to yourself (even though you don’t like to) that you initially were repulsed by because his injuries are so horrific. A man you forced yourself to speak to because you have this thing about helping underdogs. A man who showed you not to ever ever judge a book by its cover because often the people we view as underdogs aren’t underdogs at all – they are stronger than all of us put together.
A man who makes you forget the violence he endured because of his great humour and charisma. A man who gives you something every time you see him, something that makes you want to fall on your knees and give thanks to a God you don’t quite a hundred percent believe in – the memory of grace.
Some people in human form are angels. They humble you. They reassure you. They make you certain there is a light. They hold you safe in the vastness of their generous spirit and you remain overwhelmed that someone who has endured so much hasn’t walked towards the dark and given up.
Grace draws you to the water. You are surprised on a cold, wet night how many people are there – their faces full of the lights on the water. The water is crinkled like tissue paper, holding the glow like a gift.
Angels and lights, strewn against the night.
And suddenly you feel whole again.