She Reads, Still

“Sitting outside, gazing down at the same page year after year, she is silent in her moments. Her right index finger always expecting to reveal the magic of the next page, but at no time given that opportunity. Not once will the casual breeze across her bangs unsettle those finely placed. Locks of gentle hair, solidly cast in youthful pose, will rest upon the head of this child forever. A child who will be ever so content reading, day and night, the greatest words she will ever see.”

I pass this statue almost every day. She is tucked into a little alcove over, in, and around a few small trees, knee walls, sidewalks, and parking lots. Don’t mean to say she’s hidden from view. Not at all. She’s there for the viewing. I am one-hand wrestling with car key rings attached to body parts – while circus juggling supplies, personal hoists, and cell phones with my other – shuffling by blindly … day after day. This is what I, and others, do to satisfy the busy minutes tick-tacking away under our feet. Yet she reads, still.

What does she think of us? Never looking up, she must begin to see us only through words spoken in passing. Dialogues we have with ourselves, perhaps, when a bad day is appeased by overtly self-proclaiming, “What the (bleep) just happened ?!”; Or, when we take solace in another’s equally miserable, temporary, hollowed-out-like-a-charred-marshmallow, mud-rack of an existence. In either case, she hears all of it. She must.

She partakes, also, in the auditory joys of our happy quotational exchanges as well such as the Friday heading-out for the weekend “Yeahs!”, accompanied by the almost always, “I hope you have a wonderful weekend … because Monday will be here before we know it.” I’m positive both warrant a reaction: her hard shell will not, but her soft heart will provide a response. Warmer months providing a recess from inside activities, kids find her to be a vessel of their happy words of play as they scamper about playing four-square and other make-up games in their fancy imaginations.

This girl about us, of happy and sad beginning words, sits. This girl is about us. What does she truly think of us? We can know the answer based on what we know about ourselves. The words inside her forever future are the rusty nails and gold crowns passed through her ears. These treasures and toils of our own doing sit with her still. She will, by the very nature of her existence, keep them in harbor to never set them free upon the seas of our audible, moving world. So we must look at ourselves, through her, to know what she thinks of us.

She may think we are too busy to care about her. Our words of “this to do”and “that is more important” are heard as “I don’t want time with you now” as her head remains steadfastly down. We don’t see little angel tears start to drizzle over sad cheeks framed around a disappointed smile. She wants this moment for her play while we want multiples upon multiples for our more adult work-stuff … and insist on walking by. Still.

She may think our things are more important than our thoughts. Flowery out louds, disguising our intended “I must have”s and “I need more than you”s, rush to her for a refined discernment – that which she, in her innocence, is narrowly capable of doing. For she only knows what is truly hers: an open book, stool, and passers-by who are in search of the next best instead of seeing the best in their midst.

She may think we are living in the future fuss, not the present pleasant she senses all around every day. The “I’m not sure where I’m to be tomorrow”, or “When was that? I forgot .. Too much to do lately” pitter-patter of adulting language so much in the uncertain wind surrounding her. She listens to the words. They are as unsteady as the source from where they came, but must come to rest on her bare shoulders … soon to fall into her heart and remain still.

By contrast, she may think we are the most wonderful of creatures by our acts of love. We talk of “Going home to see someone we love” and “Caring for one another”. Our words travel upon arrows of kindness to targets of need while we walk by her with bags full for food banks. The young chatter of children, stepping up into a bus – yards away – headed out to visit local nursing homes, saturates the air with words any future would welcome. She remains still and blessed.

She may think we are loved ourselves. The moments of unknowns between two, sitting on the small wall nestled in behind her. “I’m here if you need me”, “Yes, I know”. Could be two adults speaking words necessary after a tremendous loss. Possibly two children, unspoken, in a gentle embrace during recess. She is there as a silent witness to the magic. Still. There.

All of these words she must, by design, keep silent. These treasures and toils of our own doing sit with her. Thousands of words. Every passing fancy we believe to be only ours is never just that when passing such a gentile soul.

In her we see how we treat others … and ourselves. This little, innocent girl is about us. We see people we are too busy to care about. We let thinking about things get in the way of thinking about the moments. Our futures have become our nows. However, we are capable of so much love – for ourselves and others. We have magic in our words.

She reads. The words in her still book always true for her. She could be anyone you pass by, anytime, anywhere. Don’t be too busy to say, “hi”. You could give that soul an opportunity to turn over a new page … opening up their treasure chest of rusty nails and gold crowns they’ve been silently sitting on for years.

If you need someone to talk to, she’ll … still … be here to talk to. I hear she’s a pretty good listener.

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