Ekunyi's Embers

Lessons

You have watched over me as lines have formed near my eyes,
seeing only the wisdom I’ve gained walking in your path.
Your thunder remains the laughter that brings a smile on even the worst of days,
forging new creases on either side of my curving mouth.
What are such changes to you, immortal father,
beautiful lord who shall never grow old
though the years will wear upon my frame?

Still I find myself asking:
Do you see the scars of time as proof that I have survived?
Have I earned my name with the callouses upon my palms holding tall the heavy wooden pike,
your iron face resplendant atop it, reflecting Mother’s light?
Do I prove myself worthy enough to have earned these signs of age,
strong enough to serve you with each day that I carry your strength into the world through my words and deeds?

You are silent for a long moment, and I realize,
holding your cool gaze,
I have been asking the wrong questions:

“Loving yourself as you are, in this and every instant,”
you tell me in reply,
“Will be the greatest challenge you ever pursue.”

Another long silence, though your tone begins to warm with mild amusement.

“Can you accept that you will never be enough?”

Your sudden smile is full of affectionate fire, your quiet laughter a sharp-toothed dare:

“Can you accept that you are mortal, that you are flawed,
that you are jealous and giving, beautiful and angry, hurting and healing, all rolled into one?
What will it take, child, to accept yourself not tomorrow, not after you have become more like the person you wish to be, but to accept yourself right now?”

I fear far more lines will forge themselves along the patterns of my face as I seek this acceptance.
You know me well, Father, to define this as the effort of my lifetime: to exist, to live, to anger, to forgive, to ultimately change… and to find the means of seeing what you somehow see in me in every moment of this odd balance of being human.

Yet I will keep seeking this acceptance,
Seek it until my red-sand hair has gone gray,
(if that is how long it takes.)

May I love myself before the time comes to leave this body behind.
May I love myself with the ferocity of the love I am so grateful to feel from you.

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