Outside my window, the rain seems to be hurled by the fists of angry gods rather than falling from the heavens. My dog, Mallory, opens one eye from where she is curled up on the couch, as if to say, “When is it ever going to end?” In the apartment above me, people are waking, showering, feeding themselves and each other. Their 3-year-old child, Anastasia, wakes up and begins her relentless running up and down.
When this family moved in above me from the rescue mission and I heard a child running and screeching in glee at being in a new home, I thought to myself: Oh, my God, this is beyond my endurance. I will have to move! But now that I have become acquainted with this curly-headed bundle of joy, the patter of her tiny feet inspire hope when there seems to be none otherwise.
With my ex-husband in jail because of a series of mishaps caused primarily by alcohol, it is not a good season for either of us, and I sit listening to the rain, wondering how a love so tender and divine could have become such a battlefield. With our fists raised and our faces gnarled in distress and rage, I recognized neither of us when we fought.
Can my beloved hear the rain in his jail cell? Does he even have a window to peer out of at the gray sky? If the season is not happy, joyous, and free for me, I cannot begin to imagine what it is like for him inside a barren cell.
In the midst of gloom, there comes an energetic knocking at my door, which gives Mallory hope of a more interesting day; she begins circling the room and barking in anticipation of a rescue from my boring self. Me too.
At the door stand two dark gypsies, for all the world like twins, eyes shining.
“Merry Christmas!” they cry. And I reply, “What’s merry about it?”
Pandora is wearing a swirling skirt with bright birds on it and a crocheted shawl. Anthony sports a black tuxedo jacket, black trousers with gray stripes, and black patent-leather shoes. They are carrying a dish with a silver top, which Pandora opens with a flourish.
“Voila!” she says, and there on an elegant dish are eggs Benedict, thin slices of prosciutto, and pieces of pineapple, alongside of which are yellow and purple pansies.
They push me gently onto the couch and begin to serve me. Anthony pops open a bottle of champagne and pours it into crystal glasses.
“A toast to…” He pauses, and Pandora giggles.
“The everlasting exuberance of life,” I shout, beginning to feel the joy they have brought me despite myself. We clink glasses and drink, and the rain begins to stop, leaving only a drip, drip against the window pane.
I think of all the mean things I said to my husband that caused him to turn on me, that in turn caused a scuffle that resulted in him being in jail. I wonder if he will ever speak to me again, or I to him.
I remember the things I have learned in my spiritual group, A Course in Miracles, which is all about forgiveness and love and experiencing the shifts in consciousness that allows one to do that. I cannot say what my husband will do, but I forgive him on the spot.
My gypsy friends are smiling at me and I wonder if they might have cast a beneficent spell over me that allows me to do what I could not do on my own.
Pandora points out the window at the wall of the house across the alleyway.
“What?” Anthony and I ask in unison.
There on the wall, reflected from one of my Christmas decorations, is a perfect star created by light. Pure light. Which is the essence of everything that is good on the planet. I bow my head in gratitude for such a sign of pure love.
Without speaking, Pandora and Anthony and I say a silent prayer and a request for my husband’s release—as the star across the way begins to dance.
Donna Johnson describes herself as a person who thrives on breaking the rules other people have made while also creating rules for herself that do make sense. “My rules do not necessarily follow the law set out by the government and law-abiding citizens,” she says. “They follow an inner law, one unto myself, and when I attempt to go outside this, to conform, disaster follows.” Her stories are often about people who are not recognized by others, who may even seem invisible, but “they often have a great truth to share if one but listens.”
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