Today we set out to find a nice park in which to sit and read. It’s 72 degrees today, something I can only assume is abnormal for Washington DC in January. We loaded ourselves in the car, Bob sitting up in the front seat with his nose working overtime in the opened passenger window, and I brought a book Gretchen gave me for Christmas entitled The Prophet, authored by Kahlil Girran in 1923. I stopped at McDonalds to get some lunch (Bob loves the french fries) and aimlessly drove through the city looking for a spot to land.
I’ve never mentioned my history to Gretchen or to anybody else, for that matter, at work except for Jodi, my boss. When Gretchen gave me the slim, elegant volume of The Prophet, she asked if I had heard of it. I told her no.
“It’s helped me through some hard times and I thought you may gain something from reading it,” she said, carefully choosing her words. I turned to her and wrapped my arms around her petite body, and I thanked her.
Bob and I found a park on Connecticut Avenue, a random little spot of land that somehow escaped development in the middle of the tony neighborhood of Cleveland Park. Breathing down its neck to the west was a huge modern complex that could have been anything from CNN to the RNC. We walked the park's circumference and finally settled onto a bench. Bob lay in the leaves while I quickly ate lunch then started to read.
What I read was a fable of a man leaving the safety of all he had known to venture into his new life. Literally, his ship came in. The townspeople from all over the land came to beg him not to leave or to bid him farewell. Each citizen had a pressing question to ask before his departure and he addressed them, one by one.
For even as love crowns you so shall he
crucify you. Even as he is for your growth
so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and
caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
so shall he descend to your roots and
shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love
and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger,
and you seek him for peace.
For that which you love most in him may
be clearer in his absence, as the mountain
to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship
save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure
of its own mystery is not love but
a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide,
let him know its flood also.
For it is his to fill your need, but not
And in the sweetness of friendship let
there be laughter. And sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart
finds its morning and is refreshed.
In the depth of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond:
and like seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden
the gate to eternity.
For what is it to die but to stand naked
in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to
free the breath from its restless tides, that
it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered.
Only when you drink from the river of
silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain
top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your
limbs, then shall you truly dance.
I looked over at Bob and I had tears in my eyes. I looked at him sniffing the moist earth and I thought of Billy dancing, really dancing, in the magic and the light. I cried at my good fortune and I felt the painful sorrow that comes with finding my beautiful reward.