12.12.11 | By: Megan Langham

Morning Muse

“You’ve got nerve,” I said flatly.

He quirked his mouth at me, tossing aside the bit of paper he had been fiddling with. “And if I do, it’s only to balance your lack of it! Come now, really. You don’t expect me to believe that you never told that man the truth because you’d rather he heard the lie.”

“As a matter of fact I did,” I retorted, trying not to let myself laugh at the ludicrous memory. “Besides, it doesn’t make any difference. I don’t like him.”

“You don’t?” His eyes grew wide with mock surprise. “I’d have thought the two of you were lovers at the least. He does make you laugh, though, whenever you’re together—that ought to earn him some measure of your favour.”

“Do I laugh so little, then?”

“Oh, no. You laugh often—rather more often than happy people do.”

I bit my lip. His words had pierced a tender place, but they were true, perhaps truer than he knew—how like his facetious wisdom—and there was the sudden stirring tenderness in his storm-blue eyes to be accounted for. He was standing over me now, though I had not seen him move from his chair, and his hand was on my arm.

Cariad,” he said, in a very different voice than before. “Cariad, I am an idiot. Please forgive me.”

“Yes, you are an idiot,” I said, smiling in spite of myself; in that jarring moment I knew I had never loved him more fully. “But it’s only idiots who dare to tell the truth. Thank you.”

His hand slid up to my shoulder and grasped it firmly. I could feel the ridges of his veins against the soft small of my neck. “Do you want to talk about it?”

With a sigh I laid my book down. “Perhaps not about that, not yet. But I’d like to know, if by any chance you care to tell me, why you think I’m not happy. Besides the laughter, of course; that’s no true test.”

He looked down at me for a long moment, his light eyebrows drawn together. Then he nodded decidedly and walked over to the bookshelf. “Just a moment. I’ve seen the answer; I’ll find it.”

“Careful, those are organised!” I tried to make my voice strict, but I couldn’t be strict with him. He knew it, too; his only answer was a roguish grin. After a minute or two of scuffling (during which several of my carefully placed books became dislodged) he made a noise of triumph and drew out his object: a cream-coloured paperback of modest mien.

“Here we are,” he said, flipping through the pages as he walked back towards me. “I was reading it just last night, when you were practising that piano piece—the one with all the arpeggios. Ah, this is it.” Still standing in front of me, he read in clear tones from the open book.

“I had not yet fallen in love, but I was in love with the idea of it, and this feeling that something was missing around me made me despise myself for not being more anxious to satisfy the need. I began to look around for some object for my love, since I badly wanted to love something. I had no liking for the safe path without pitfalls, for although my real need was for you, my God, who are the food of the soul, I was not aware of this hunger.”

He closed the book and smiled at me—not his customary mischievous smile, but with a yearning compassion, rich and rare, in his steadfast gaze.

“Saint Augustine always understands,” I said, painfully conscious that my answering smile trembled.

“True, that is! It was you I thought of when I read his words last night, while you were playing your soul out through your fingers. You reveal far more of yourself than you think, especially to those who already know and love you. Which means—” he laughed, playful again— “you’d do well to keep a watch on who’s listening when you’re at the piano!”

I laughed too, a little shakily…but I was glad. Glad to be free of the unspoken thoughts I’d kept to myself; glad that another had stepped in to share the burden.

“What do you suggest I do with myself, then, in the meantime? Has Augustine got anything more to say on that subject?”

“If he has, I’ve not yet come across it. Not everybody devours books as madly as you do, woman.” He paused, savouring my attempt at an indignant expression, and then went on more seriously: “For what it’s worth, my advice is that you should let yourself be loved. You didn’t build your ship, and you don’t know how to steer it: you don’t know how to see. You struggle to see Heaven, but it is all around you. It peeps through the cracks in the world, sings to you in the sound of the stream, beckons to you in the smile of a stranger. Oh, cariad, stop trying to deserve love. You can’t deserve it. I can’t deserve it. Love is not enfolding us now because it is deserved, but because it is deserving. Lay your head down. Let it enrapture you.”

He drew a deep breath and smiled again at me. “I care for you,” he said, “and you care for me, and if we each thought we had to deserve that affection then we would both be miserable at best. As it is, we’re only miserable when you haven’t had your tea.”

I tossed a pillow at him and missed. Laughing, he sat down next to me on the sofa.

“It’s a good job you’re such a poor aim—and that you’ve only got an unwieldy pillow to attack me with.”

I rested my chin on my knees, glancing at him sidewise. “I could threaten you with far more dangerous weapons. Are you going to repair the ruin you made of my bookshelf, or shall I be forced to tidy up after you again?”

“I’ll do it, of course. But it was a ruin I made helping you.”

Though his words were light, I could see the aching pain of memory in his eyes; and though his very existence was of my own making, gratitude for his goodness surged over me. But I could not let him see how much I felt, not yet, not now…

“You’ve got nerve,” I said again.

9 missives:

Jenny Freitag said...

"As it is, we’re only miserable when you haven’t had your tea.” Ah, how we know the feeling, my companion and I. I haven't had my own tea yet (goodness knows I should really still be asleep at this moment, but I am dreadfully wide awake), but somehow being able to poke fun at our own selves makes me laugh even at this absurdly early hour.

I don't play the piano. I know my cousin plays that way, to play out all the torment in her soul, and years ago when I did remember how to play I played like that. But now I play my computer's keyboard: a strangely blunt, mortal instrument with which to channel the melodies of my words. But I know this place, darling-to-me: my place is a wood named after an Italian poet, but I know the place all the same. And thank goodness for the sensible parts of us that call us halfpints and cariads and shake us gently back to reason again out of our gloomy self-imposed prisons. We know better (they show us that), we know that even as sojourners and aliens in a land that is not ours we can lay claim to a love enduring, among ourselves and with our God, and know that, though we ache with the ache of people wandering far from home, we among all people know what love really is. And we will always be learning.

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear: it soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear...

Rachel Heffington said...

Oh lovely lovely lovely words, Megan! This made my entire day all in a blow. Thanks a million for putting effort into this little piece of beauty. :)

Keaghan said...

I'll just echo what Jenny and Rachel have already said so eloquently: lovely, beautiful words, Megan. Your style is so touching and deep without being pretentious or formal. Thanks for sharing!

Marian said...

This is beautiful!! I love the message, the style, and all the details (it reminds me of my own bookshelf!). Thanks for posting!

Anna said...

I think you simultaneously dragged that piece from somewhere deep inside me and then poured it back into the same place. Thank you; thank God for making you and recreating such a heart behind your pen.

"Oh, cariad, stop trying to deserve love. You can’t deserve it. I can’t deserve it. Love is not enfolding us now because it is deserved, but because it is deserving. Lay your head down. Let it enrapture you."

Your prose sings like poetry. I do love this - and you. ^.^

Grace Pennington said...

This is beautiful, Merry. :) Thank you for sharing this glimpse with us!

Tristen said...

you really are an incredible writer Merry, This was so beautiful! Thank you for sharing, it really made my day.

Megan Langham said...

Oh, goodness--thanks so much, each of you, for your kind words. I'm still recovering from surprise that I actually wrote something readable in the morning; it won't turn out to be a regular occurrence, I'm sure of that. ;)

Jenny - I've got the tune of that lovely old hymn in my head now, and I hope I've got the spirit of it in my heart. It's a gift from God, this sensible reminding, and I am wordlessly grateful for it. (Dante's Wood and Augustine's Pathway; there's an odd kinship between them, as there is between us.)

Anna - This resonated with you, then! I am glad. So often after I've made a scribble I'm afraid that the ones who read it won't find anything in it to remember--it will be nothing more to them than a few pretty words strung together--but to know that one of my dearest friends found meaning in it is endlessly encouraging. ^.^

You're all just lovely.

Katie S. said...

I read this some time ago, but haven't had the time to comment till now. Life is crazy. >.>

You've just got it, Megan. You just do. Your prose always comes across so perfectly, reads so truthfully, is filled with so... much. I know I've said it before, but as it's Very Truly True, it bears repeating: Your writing is a blessing to read.

I would send you a hug through this comment if I could... But as that may be quite impossible, you must know I love you, and pray for you often. ^.^ Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Post a Comment