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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Welcome Home

Every step I take in this long, ornate hallway lined with knights in armor causes my heart to beat a thousand times faster. Picture Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast spouting off details about the rich Rococo design and the history behind each tapestry. Only I'm not being taken to a room and treated to dinner. I'm going to see a King. Behind the heavy door at the end of the hall, a King sits on his throne dressed in fine purple robes.

A King who holds my future in his hands.

I smooth my dusty brown peasant's cloak and pray the King is in a good mood. Today I have come with the sole purpose of delaying my family's inevitable residence in the King's dungeon.

The grand door opens and I hobble my way forward to bow before the throne. Only I trip before I reach the bottom step and find myself on my face. From my humble position I squeak out a hurried plea for help.

I hear in response that I owe the crown far more than I can pay this month. Or, truth be told, in the next hundred years. The King then says a plethora of words I fail to comprehend. But one I grasp. Cancelled. The King's servants escort me out of the room before I can gush my thanks.

Good thing. I have no idea what one says to thank a King. I hurry home to share the good news and my plans to work harder and repay this King's kindness. He was so good to spare us the fate we knew awaited us all.

Everyone in our little cottage agrees to help. Even the smallest child promises to work hard to do all they can for this kind King. We set to work, singing as we go. On the way, a woman who I used to name a friend stops me. She's spread humiliating rumors about me going to visit the King and laughs about the details she purposely exaggerated.

"For effect, you know. Good stories require a little spice."

In her wild laughter over the lies she's spread about me, I remember she owes me money. I grab her by the throat and demand she repay everything. This will prove a quick way to lighten the burden of what I want to give the King.

Then I remember his kindness to me.

So instead, I drag her toward the castle, intent on restoring my honor by proving her wrong with the King's own words. Along the way a crowd joins us. It’s filled with others who have hurt me. Unkind words, obvious snubs, those who no longer associate with my family because of our poorer estate. They're all curious. And I intend to prove to every one that I am better than they have treated me.

I've been in the presence of the King.

As our large group is ushered before the throne, the King asks the reason for our coming. I start to answer, but my gossiping former friend speaks first. She details all the mistakes of my past, seeking to prove my unworthiness before the King.

I grab her by the throat again, intent on silencing her words. In her eyes I see the face of every person who has ever wronged me. My humiliation before the King, my hurt and pain, drives the fury of my hold on this woman.

Then in her eyes, I see a face hauntingly like my own. Not the face of my child. This is the face of a child no one claimed. A child no one listened to. A child who believed no one cared.

This face is mine.

Instead of releasing my hold, I tighten it. I want all the memories of my past wiped away forever. I want the face of this child erased from my mind. This face I rejected and have spent a lifetime running from.

I remember again the King's kindness to me. Again he speaks. But this time to the woman in my grasp.

"My precious child, you are forgiven."

I release my hold.

My former friend kneels before the King. Then she turns to me. Her eyes, the ones that minutes ago held every memory of hurt and pain and all the faces of my past, have changed.

"You are forgiven too." She says.

Before the King, in utter humiliation, I cry. I cry the tears of that little girl I rejected so many years ago. I cry the tears she never shed for all the pain that came her way. I cry the tears I refused to shed when those standing around me inflicted their hurt.

The King speaks. This time to me. "Come home, dear child. Come home."

My former friend, with eyes so like the little girl of my past, extends her arms.

I stand. Before I can talk myself out of rash action, I run into her embrace. Through my tears, I whisper, "I'm sorry." I hug her tightly and with her that little girl and all those faces that haunt my memories. In that embrace I grieve the pain and release my hold on those I had hoped would pay me what they owed.

In releasing them, I find myself freed.

The King smiles at me and draws me into his embrace. “Welcome home, child. Welcome home.”


David said...

Amy, this brought tears to my eyes and gave me chills as well. This is a beautiful personlization of the parable. Thank you for sharing this. You are a true gift, as is your writing.

Amy Wallace said...

And you are a true gift to me! Glad this touched your heart...

I love you!

Paula said...

This is beautiful. How complete is the forgiveness and acceptance of our King. Thank you for the reminder.

Amy Wallace said...


I'm praying for you dear friend! I love your heart and your wonderful encouragement to me when you are struggling with so much. You are a blessing and then some. ;-)


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