There was a stillness to the day; a calm that contrasted to the busy city flow of traffic and people bustling for warmth and comfort. Ice crystals winked in the air just in front of her nose and pierced her cheeks like tiny winter daggers, gleeful in their winter cold. Looking up at the sky and its depth of untainted blue she found herself gazing breathless and in that second loosing her concentration she felt her feet slipping on unforgiving ice. Earnestly adjusting her balance on unsteady feet, her equilibrium soon regained. Her mind converged with her body.
She shivered as her thoughts traced back to the receding morning. It had been a difficult year, culminating today with a budding hope. Hope that, if she wasn't careful, might open its petals and devour her existence like a carnivorous exotic plant in the depths of a jungle. Strong and powerful hope that burns...burns as long as it has its fuel. Suddenly, to become enchanted with hope was frightening. She felt as though she was putting her trust in an illusion; a teasing, flickering, insubstantial entity. A may or may not. A yet to be. She wasn't afraid. For what in her future could be worse than her past? She wasn't afraid, yet she found her self longing for reassurance.
The cathedral in the near distance stood beside traffic lights and crossings. Iron black park benches dusted with twinkling frost at its feet. The promise of shelter beckoned her forward. Where soon she found herself kneeling in prayer, talking to her God asking for guidance as she surrendered her very own promises in exchange for answers.
Yet not for long would she remain bowed. Always she raised her eyes up. This time she examined the human endeavour that had created symmetrical arches that curved and protected polished wood and intense colour and light that illuminated with devotion the mother holding her dying son. This great house exuded the suffering of life and art and her heart was filled with humility. She wanted to capture all she saw. She did not want to leave it behind. Taking photographs she knew were forbidden. So she waited and watched for a chance to be completely alone.
Which was when she saw hope. In human form—man or woman, it was hard to discern. A slight, hooded figure in tracksuit and trainers stood up from prayer, advanced to the altar, and lifted arms that sought heaven. Straight and true. Beloved arrows. Astonished at first, she felt like an intruder watching as the figure knelt head bowed and then raised itself up again, arms reaching, reaching, imploring. Disturbed, she tore her eyes away. Yet not before she observed a ritual of faith repeated and repeated, curious as to the object of the prayer, curious as to the dialogue between earth and heaven. She felt she could see the sound waves almost touch the adoration, but she just could not discern the truth.
Truth. Is that what today has become? A search for her truth? She was falling, losing her balance all over again. She was witnessing a human display of open vulnerability; a physical emanation of prayer. She realised that hope burns in prayer. When she bargains with her God she feeds the terrible beauty of hope.
She was not afraid. She was not afraid.
For she decided then to embrace the mystery of the unknown, enticed by unchartered perilous paths or untroubled roads. Cautiously, she was finding her courage to challenge her life that until this moment had feared another disappointment. She dared her self to hope.
The embers of hope began to glow, as she contemplated her life so far and the promise of today, she was ready to taste the heat of the flame and she knew she would not be devoured. She would be sustained.