Pray Harder.

Please Please, PLEASE…

She prayed on her knees and despite the pain in her legs from kneeling so long on the hard concrete floor and the drops of tears which collected in a small blotted puddle right in front of her, she continued to pray as if her life depending on it. They always whispered in the streets that great souls were only created in great sorrow.

People in the church passed by the light-skinned girl with dark eyes and wondered what could have caused such beauty so much pain. There was something wrong about seeing a freshly bloomed rose, snapped in half and left in the dirt. If she had been ugly they might have given her a mere glance, but even in the church’s dimness, she was a beacon of light. A brightness that really had nothing to do with how many shadows were cast down around her. The old men staring assumed it was a broken heart by a flesh thirsty boy. The women assumed her dreams were taken from her, in the form of a handsome flesh thirsty boy. How wrong a thousand perspectives could be all at once.

Please Please, PLEASE!, on and on the voice in her being sang.

Hours passed and she stood her ground. People left and people came. Everyone knew her, most dared not interrupt. After all, she was in conversation with someone far more powerful than the rulers of their little town of fewer than 1000 people.

After the first hour, her sobbing stopped. But it wasn’t until the third hour that her eyes were completely dry. Water ran until there was no more. Some children went so far as to touch the end of her hemmed dress. Daring, and yet scared as their tiny little hands caressed an off-white cotton cloth that had been worn far more than should. They called her possessed and tainted before they ran back outside to continue their carefree and havoc-filled play. They were young and understood nothing. Still, she gave no sign of hearing their shrieks. On she prayed. Maybe even harder. The streets outside were bright, and noisy with the main market square just outside of the church. Filled to the brim with life, the town moved with its occupants like a breath in and out. Morning came and in they rushed, the night arrived and out they fled, only a few straggling mots of beings left behind. In a few minutes, the fisherman would be back with their catch of the day, and the women would begin their haggle over a decent fish and an equally decent price. If they were lucky, they would exchange for a favor. In the town square, the church was the pinnacle with its plain but stern cross facing to the West, where the travelers would pour in from old wooden ships. Sometimes they came with goods and treasures. Most of the times with just stories and possibilities of influencing the dreamers. As their captains sailed up to its shores, they spied the cross and felt rather than knew, they had reached God’s hands.

Surrounding the church was a small schoolyard, bookstore, house of herbs, and a place to buy fabrics, the same store which the sad girl had chosen her dresses now stained and worn down material. A present from her deceased mother.

Kasminia prayed with all her energy for the one thing she never had. Till she was skin and bones.

God, please make me beautiful inside.

Beautiful inside… What did it matter to be beautiful inside, if you were cut like fine crystal on the outside? Who would be able to tell except yourself? And even so, no one was perfect. Right?…

She prayed as she remembered the day her mother died with the words on her lips, You girl, are an empty shell. It had struck her immediately but only reverberated in her mind months and months after because she realized that if her mother had used her last strength to send out a curse of an observation, then it must be so. Was she an empty shell? Kasminia carefully watched the other beautiful ones in the village and listened to the words they spoke, how hollow their laughter rings, and how wicked their hearts sang when you truly understood them. It scared her even more that she could understand them. She finally reflected, yes Mother, you were right, we are empty shells.

With this accusation ringing in her years, she tried and tried to correct herself. Studying harder, loving unselfishly, giving until she had nothing. But still, the simple sentence haunted her every thought until she realized that she was trying her hardest to prove the ghost of her mother wrong, instead of simply doing what she thought was the right thing to do; To be good. To be beautiful deep in the recesses on one’s heart not because she wanted to prove her mother wrong, but because she believed.

The sun was lit in the sky burnished with a Sienna glow and Kasminia walked through the large wooden doors which took two men to open every day and decided that she would stop forcing herself and do the only thing she hadn’t tried. She prayed.

No one was left when the beautiful beam of light rose from her shaky bruised knees and walked home in the black of night. No one would see her as she eventually walked to the West with a change of clothes and bread to eat. No one would see the smile on her face when finally she found her answer. No one would ever remember her for her complexion and almond shaped eyes. They would only remember the beauty they felt in their heart when they were with her.

Dear God, thank you. You only heal me.

50 years later in Calcutta India, a fisherman went up to Mother Theresa and made a simple remark that might have confused others.

” Mother, I once knew a girl beautiful in everything she did, from a small village protected by God. She disappeared but when I look into your eyes, I see her.”

The old women smiled and silently let the words turn over, deep in the ashes of her remembrances. You girl, are an empty shell.

No mother, I am God’s beautiful one. Now be gone in peace.


Lindsay Reva

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