Old voices

19961608538_40c252fe0b_zThere once was a Woman who had enjoyed an afternoon in a local shop, browsing the items, petting the shop cat, and spending time with her friends. When it came time to go, they all paid for their items and left the store, hugging in the parking lot and setting out to go home. But two of the women stood near the cars and chatted for a couple moments before the unmistakable smell of smoke filled the air. This wasn’t the pleasant aroma of incense or of a fireplace, instead it was the heart-stopping stench of a home on fire. All instincts in the Woman told her to run to the cause and to run fast, but she shushed them and quickly walked around the building instead. When the sight of that brown-grey smoke filled her eyes, her instincts began shouting instead, and she knew that she had to listen. A moment of hesitation – run in clogs or not – then she dropped her bag and just ran in the direction of the smoke. Later, the Woman was informed that she had told her friend to “stay there” before taking off, but there was no memory of speaking those words. The only thoughts swirling were People, Mrs. Gray, Kittens, Children, and, perhaps loudest of all, NO.

What she did after that didn’t make a difference to the people whose homes were now gone, the fire department had already been called, but she didn’t know that. Instead, she dialed the numbers while she shouted to her friend asking the address of the shop, then headed back toward the smoke. She saw several people in an adjoining parking lot moving away from the building and, as the first truck appeared and she waved them down (for the flames were not significantly visible yet), she knew that she could do no more even though her heart was pulling toward the flaming windows. At that time, she could hear her friend calling to her with a tinge of fear shaping her name. As she returned to her friend’s side, she realized how much smoke she had been inhaling and covered her face the best she could. It wasn’t until the electric lines overhead began to burn and fall that she realized that she could have been hurt and endangered her friend.

After the Woman got home, she did many things to calm her heart and still her hands. Tea, honey, calls to the two people who mean more to her than life itself. Her daughter’s calm steel voice, her son’s vibrant strength, those soothed her raging mind more than any tranquilizer.

Then the old voices rose up in the back of her mind. That was a stupid thing to do. It’s not like you could have actually done anything. Anyone with intelligence would have stayed away from that building. What were you thinking? And she began to listen to them, allowing them to make her heart heavy with the severity of her own misjudgment. And the old shame colored her cheeks which were still wet from the tears she had been crying over the people affected by the event.

But just as she closed her eyes to sleep, there was another voice. A strong and quiet voice that whispered above the others, “You are a Warrior.” Because she had been listening to the other voices, though, she dismissed that voice as arrogance. But it tugged at her as she slipped into a dreamless sleep.

The following morning, as she rushed around to get ready for work, that voice whispered again, “You are a Warrior,” and she shushed it because she was going to be late. At odd moments throughout the day, even though she was short-tempered and blunt to those who annoyed her, that voice still called out to her. It was persistent, but she didn’t feel that she should listen. Finally, it had gotten so loud that she decided that she would ask her friend about it. Her friend who, though years younger, had a wisdom about such things that the Woman was still trying to accept in herself. And her friend agreed with that voice. The voice that was nudging the Woman to stop listening to the other voices and to accept her role in this part of her journey.

While I wrote this as a story, these events actually happened. And I know how loud those voices can be. Those ancient voices that keep trying to drag you back down to the emptiness of a harsh childhood or an abusive relationship. Those fear-filled voices that know that they will be nothing without your attention. They are so hard to ignore sometimes because they are the ones you have heard throughout your whole life. They are the ones that shout at you and make your heart sore and bitter.

But they are wrong. That other voice, the one that whispers of your strength and courage? That is the voice you should be listening to. It might not be easy to hear it and you may want to dismiss it, but listen. Even if it’s just once each day, listen. Then listen more. And more. And MORE. Until that voice is the only one you hear.

Blessings to you all.


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