Thursday, November 11, 2004
the child, fourteen
Two days later, as the Child was strolling across the green lawn with the Master, he asked her gently, 'Starr, my dear, why do you never wear my gift?'
'Your - your gift?' Puzzlement bombarded her. What gift?
'Yes. The gift I left for you when I brought you here. The one Mathilda presented you with when you awakened.'
Starr gasped. 'The sword!'
'Yes, my love. The sword. Which you keep hidden between your mattress and the wall. Go and fetch it here, dear.'
Starr turned away to go to the house. And as she did, a huge weight of shame and anguish settled over her. She had disappointed the Master! She had hidden his gift to her. Surely he was displeased with her. Surely he was angry, she thought as she walked towards the house.
Miserable, she turned again to face him.
'Little girl,' said he. 'Do you want me to forgive you?'
She couldn't speak for the lump in her throat. So she nodded.
'You need only ask me.' His voice was so gentle.
'Please...' she breathed. 'For-forgive me...' She was crying too hard now to say more.
'You are forgiven,' he responded. And opened his arms to her.
She pelted to him, burying her face in his chest, sobbing, sobbing...
When she could finally speak again, she looked up in his dear face right there above her. 'Forgive me,' she said again.
He tilted his head. 'I already did.'
'Disappointed me? Yes. But I have forgiven you.'
She shook her head, not quite believing it. 'That's it? It's that simple? I ask, and you forgive? You don't hold it over me, or make me work for it?'
'Make you jump through hoops as it were, to be restored to me? No. You don't have to earn my forgiveness. You can't earn it. You need only ask for it - and receive it - and then walk in it.'
'Walk in it?' she asked.
'Yes, dear. By not doing again the thing that displeased me.'
She hung her head again at the word 'displeased.' 'I never want to displease you. Ever.'
'That shows the reality of your heart beating after mine. It is your love for me that will protect you from doing what displeases me. In that way will you walk in my forgiveness. But...' And that word 'but' brought her attention sharply to his face. 'Be on guard against anything that would draw your heart away, to love it more than you love me. Whatever you love more than me is an idol, and it will destroy you.'
She searched her heart. 'There is nothing I love more than you,' she said.
'I know. But many things will crowd in to try to drown out that love. So be on guard. Also, fear will seek to paralyze you. So you must guard against that as well.'
'By staying close to me, and putting your love for me first before everything else. I know that sounds selfish of me. It isn't. It is safe for you though. And...'
He smiled on her. 'And do not let these things that you do not understand worry you. Simply trust me. And you will do well.'
She chuckled. 'Oh, you know me so well! Because I didn't quite understand that last part...'
'No worries. No fears. Only trust. Yes?'
She looked up into his face, that sweet dear kind face. 'Yes,' said she.
'Because,' he added, 'if you understood everything, you would not need to trust. Do you see?'
'Umm... No...' she said.
A sweet chuckle bubbled up out of him as he lightly kissed her on the forehead. 'My little girl,' he said. 'You please me. Now go and fetch here the sword, my love.'
She went, this time in lightness as if her feet were barely skimming the ground. Into the house, into her chamber, took up the sword, back out into the sunshine, and quickly to his side again. 'Here it is, my Beloved,' said she.
He took it from her and fastened it about her waist. 'This is my gift to you, dear Starr. I want you to wear it. Wear it always. For me.'
'I will,' she promised.
'My good girl. Now,' he said, taking her hand and beginning to walk, 'tell me why you have not been wearing it, or using it.'
'I didn't know how to use it,' she replied, her eyes cast down.
'Is that your whole reason?'
Ah, he knew her! He knew there was more reason to it than that.
'N-no. I - I was...' Tears began to spill from her eyes. '...afraid...'
'You don't have to be afraid, love,' said he. 'Not of my gifts to you. I do not give you bad gifts, or gifts that would harm you. This sword I gave to you is for your protection. It will not harm you.'
'I was scared to draw it,' she whispered, confessing. 'I was scared I would cut my hand on it.'
'Draw it now,' said he. They stopped walking, and he took her hands, placing the one on the hilt and the other on the scabbard, safely positioning them where the sword would not touch either hand as she drew it forth. Slowly, carefully, she pulled the sword from its sheath. And gasped.
'It's beautiful!' she cried. And it was, with fine silvered filagree running the length of the flashing blade.
He chuckled. 'Did you think it would not be?'
'But the scabbard was so plain...'
'Much that I have made, I hide within plain things, so that only those who are truly searching for the things of me will find them.' And at the blank look she gave, he said again, 'Do not worry about the things you do not understand. Now. Feel the edge.'
She quailed. 'But it will cut me!' she cried.
'Starr. Love. Will I ask thee to do a thing that will harm thee? Do you not know me better than that?'
Shame colored her cheeks. 'I'm sorry,' she breathed.
'And thou art forgiven. Do what I asked now, dearheart.'
Trembling, she put forth her hand and gingerly touched the edge. And blinked in surprise. 'It's dull!'
'It has never been sharpened. You will do that.'
She gazed up at him and gave a hiccup of a laugh. 'All - all this time - I was afraid of a sword - that wasn't even sharp?'
He nodded. 'Yes, dear. You were.'
She leaned against him, and he drew her close. 'I feel so foolish...' said she.
'You are learning though, dear. It is when one refuses to learn that one becomes a fool. Now. Shall we begin your training with the sword?'
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