TITLE: Mrs. Perfect Peace
By Samuel Connelly
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Mrs. Perfect Peace
Throwing myself into bed, half-dead-feeling, I glanced over to see what time it was… 3:30am. Another extremely long, stressful, and unfinished day behind me and, in three hours, an even longer, more stressful day is going to start. ‘What kind of life is this?’ I thought to myself, almost loud enough to wake my wife.
Rolling around, kicking off covers then covering up again, flipping my pillow over every few seconds and pushing the side of my face into the newly cooled surface; shoving my wife’s leg off me, which she seemed to keep putting across my legs, and then turning on my side to cool down my back, which was sweating because the humidity was so heavy; at some point in all this, and I am not quite sure when, I fell asleep.
Upon my arrival into dream-land I was suddenly pulled back by the intense aroma of fresh baked gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa; just like my grandmother would make whenever I slept over as a child. As I swallowed in deep, the magical fragrance, I slowly cracked open my eye lids and was met by an array of lights dancing on the ceiling, reflecting from somewhere down the hall: red, blue, white, and yellow streams of shimmering luminous beams, like a dancing constellation, putting on a show for the universe. I watched the ballet for a few minutes and then slowly sat up on the edge of my bed.
There was a surrealness about the night. The air seemed to be charged; it reminded me of those warm summer nights, back when I was a child –nights which seemed to last for days. My brother, sister, and I would run around catching fireflies in glass jars. The air was filled with cotton-seed floating on unseen wind currents and the green-blue lights appearing here and there from the fire-flies made for some amazing entertainment. This night had the same feeling of peace, and goodness.
I blinked a few times, rubbed my eyes and then stood to my feet. Grabbing my robe and slipping into my slippers I made my way down the hall towards the kitchen. It felt like a dream, but at the same time it was more than real; I felt all five senses alive and taking in what was happening around me.
Coming to the end of the hall I could see a person’s shadow moving around the tile floor from around the corner.
“Samuel,” a sweet, caring, grandma-like voice said, “Come in, sit down.”
I walked up to where the hallway ended - going into the kitchen- and peered around the corner. “What are you waiting for? Come. Sit.” She said.
She was standing at the oven. Long curly white-grey hair, white faced with chubby cherry red cheeks, and dark blue eyes, that seemed to be full of the ocean. She was all of 4 foot, 10 inches; she wore a long red dress with white lace lining and collar, and a white apron over it all. She was every bit of what I thought, as a child, to be Santa’s little wife, but I knew that she wasn’t.
She turned to me and smiled; her big blue eyes sparkled, and her teeth shone bright, like a string of freshly polished pearls. “I thought you might like a snack, so I’ve baked some goodies for you.”
“Who are you?” I tenderly and graciously asked as I walked to the other side of the island in the middle of the kitchen and sat on a bar stool.
“Questions, questions, always asking questions; you are always inquiring, no time for a break. No time to just stop and be still. No, Samuel, no answers, no information to figure out, no riddles to solve, just peace. Be still.”
She brought over a plate of cookies. I think they were gingerbread, but more. I took a bite and chewed it, slowly, to experience every morsel of flavor. As I ate them warmth covered my body like a blanket. ‘Wow!’ was all I could think.
I watched the little lady as she cooked and cleaned and poured me a hot cup of cocoa. She was as graceful as a fawn and every time she looked at me my heart sped up a few beats and I warmed up all over again.
Then she took a variety of cookies and placed them on a crystal plate, she grabbed a pitcher of hot cocoa and walked slowly into the living room. I quickly grabbed a handful of cookies and my drink and hurried off behind her.
I followed her into the living room where she sat down in a big dark burgundy recliner in the middle of the room facing the fireplace. It didn’t take me but a second to realize that this was not my living room. Looking around the room, I quickly noticed everything that was not mine: the fireplace, the big wooden mantle above it with a picture of Jesus- kneeling over a huge rock praying in the garden, the hardwood floor that shined with the reflection of the flames which were jumping around in the fireplace. A few feet from her was another recliner, separated by a circular brown throw-rug on the floor, with a little oval shaped antique wooden coffee table sitting on it, upon which, she had set the plate of cookies and hot cocoa.
I walked over to the chair and sat down. The recliner reclined by itself, the cushions softened in places they needed to be and in other places they firmed up. It made itself, for me, a perfect fit. This was just one of those moments that I was so comfortable that I couldn’t think about work or any other obligation I felt I had, even if I really tried hard.
“Samuel,” she asked after taking a sip of her drink. “Why has it been so long since your last visit?”
“What? My last visit…I have never been here before.”
“Sure you have. You used to visit me all the time.” Then she tenderly laughed as she remembered, “You used to come play in this very living room, fall asleep in that recliner that you are sitting in right now. You loved my cookies; you would stuff your mouth full of them and try to wash them down with milk, but your little cheeks were so full of gingerbread that milk would dribble right down your chin and onto your shirt.”
“I’m sorry,” I said a little taken back and confused, “but I don’t remember any of this…or you.”
“It’s because you have gotten too busy with stuff. It’s easy to forget this place when you’re running after all those things out there. You have been so focused on ‘business’ that you haven’t been able to stop and enjoy the gifts you have been given; much less visit me.”
“Your wife and your two little babies for starters.” She said as she leaned forward and picked up another wonderful cookie. “Look at the amazing abilities and talents you have, but have neglected. Those are gifts too, you know.”
“I adore my family, but I don’t have time for all those other things.” I said almost whispering as my mind ran back to earlier years. I could see myself painting, writing, singing, playing my guitar, and just…having fun. “Time is going so fast and there is never enough time to play around.”
“That is the talk of a hopeless old man who has given in to his end. That’s not you Samuel.” Steam rose into the air as she refilled my cup. The streams of steam came together as they rose high, dancing like a little ballerina until it disappeared into the ceiling.
“I know, I know, I just can’t shake it. It’s like I am living in a moment that is about to end and I want to do so much, but I feel bound to do what life says is necessary for a husband and father to do…you know?” I looked over at her and she tenderly smiled. “I have so many passions and things to offer- I feel- but I have been crucifying those things since I…”
“Decided you had to grow up and be a man?” Her tender voice interrupted. She smiled out of the right side of her mouth and tilled her head to the side. Her ocean filled eyes turned a dark green and the dark green walls of the living room faded into miles of green fields. Instantly we were transported to the top of a short grassy hill in the middle of many rolling hills stretching for miles in every direction - but we were still in the living room, I was almost sure, because we were still reclining in front of the fireplace.
The warm wind blew across my face, and I could smell the fresh smell of rain in the air, although there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
I looked over at her in amazement. Without a word she directed me, with her eyes, to look behind me. As I turned around I noticed, about a hundred yards away, a boy lying on top of a grassy hill, arms crossed behind his head, and looking up at the sky. The boy was me.
Looking at me over there lying down brought feelings of freedom. Although I was doing nothing over there but looking into the sky and daydreaming; watching myself meant so much more. It took me back to those days at my grandparent’s ranch in Northern California. Days full of running through their 5,600 acres of rolling hills, horse rides, cattle drives, and four-wheeling. It reminded me of the not-a-care-in-the-world feelings I had as I would go camping out in the middle of nowhere with my friends; and jumping from the old oak tree which had fallen down over the Pleasant Valley waterfall. I reminisced of days swimming in the ice cold creek water that came from the melting snow up in the mountains, fishing for cat fish, and going on snake hunts - where we never caught the snakes we found because we were more afraid of them then they were of us.
Those were the days; the golden memories of my youth.
“Do you know what you were doing over there in the grass?” The sweet little lady asked me.
“Probably day-dreaming of better days.” I replied.
“You’re right. You were. You were dreaming of better days to come.” She said. “You were dreaming of days not yet born. You were dreaming of getting married, having kids, and being a world changer.” She continued. “You knew that there was a problem with society a problem with the hearts of men, and you, Samuel, you had decided that you were going to change the lives of millions. You were telling God that you were going to dedicate your life and death to being an answer to the hurts of humanity.”
“You said with your own mouth my that you would not be normal, and instead show mankind that it was ok to be abnormal: to love everyone abnormally, forgive each other abnormally, help, care for, encourage, embrace diversity with an abnormally deep, honest, consistent, and uncompromising depth. That was you, Samuel.” She said.
I put my head into my lap. “I have been so overcome with normal life…haven’t I?” I cried, “I am what I dedicated myself to stop.”
When I raised my head again we were back in her living room, the green miles of rolling hills were swirling and blending into her green walls again; changing back into its original solid, warm, and comforting self.
Up until this point I didn’t recall hearing the squeaking of our recliners – probably because of all the other things going on around me, but now I could hear the soft high pitched squeaking. Up down, up down, yet for some reason even the soft squeaking which seemed to be following a perfect rhythm, was soothing.
The wonderful old lady, angel, fairy God mother, or what ever she was – I am sure she is not mortal – slowly leaned forward and brought herself out of the chair. “I have something that belongs to you.” She walked over to a cabinet and pulled out a little black box, about half the size of a shoe box, snapped shut by a simple metal snap-button.
“You didn’t have to get me anything; this amazing place is more than what I have needed.” I said graciously.
“I said that it belongs to you.” She came back and stood by my chair and sat the little black box on the coffee table that was in between our chairs. I reached over to grab it but she quickly took my hand. Her eyes looking into mine brought such peace and tranquility that I nearly hugged her in appreciation.
I took the box into my lap and rubbed it with my right hand and then touched the metal snap. I wanted to open it quickly, and at the same time I was unsure of what I was about to open. Being committed to open this box, I could not put it off or pretend I had patience. I popped the metal snap open and opened the lid. I opened the box up and confusingly enough there was only a pair of glasses.
There was nothing special about these old brown wired frame glasses either. They were not new, name-brand, nor did they have any kind of style to them. They were just a plain old pair of glasses. I took them out of the box and held them out to inspect them a little – although there was nothing more to inspect. “I don’t get it.” I said to the little old lady.
“Don’t worry, Samuel, you will once you put them on.” She said. “Once you put those glasses on you will remember.”
“Remember what?” I asked.
“Remember what you live for, your passion. Sam you were given these glasses years ago as a gift from the Master. These glasses are specially made, unique, for you and you alone. These glasses give you sight, they give you vision; your vision for the future. But you lost them a few years ago. Lucky for you, when one losses such a special gift, it usually ends up here and here it sits, waiting for their owner to visit and claim them again.”
“I don’t fully understand what you are saying.” I said.
“Look around my house. There are many treasures and amazing things in every room. None of these things are mine, they all belong to those, like you, who have lost and misplaced these special gifts of the Master. I am just the person who keeps them safe and gives them back when one of those poor souls come knocking. Like you.”
“I didn’t come here.” I responded quickly. “I was asleep and the next thing I know I am smelling cookies.”
“Samuel, you called for me last night. You knocked, you sought, and you asked, and then you found me.”
I took the spectacles into my hands and opened the frames and slowly brought it to my face. Then I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and pushed the glasses all the way on.
Suddenly I felt a swirling of warmth in my head and it got hot. It traveled down through my back and into all my veins. It felt like fire. I opened my eyes and saw multitudes of people hungry for salvation, the valley of Dry bones cracking in eager desperation for the Word that would bring them life. I could see the faces of those who long for a touch from another compassionate human being reaching out from their various places around the world. The streets were all full of hungry people, bedrooms with crying abused spouses, and children suffering neglect weeping to be loved.
In that moment looking through those spectacles I realized what I had lost and finally now had again gained. I had lost my vision. I had allowed myself to walk away from the passion that had so fired me up with purpose as a young believer. I had dropped these glasses somewhere along the road years ago, and in loosing this vision I had also lost my way to find peace.
Almost as if she was reading my mind the little old woman grabbed my hand and with tears in her eyes said, “Yes, Samuel. But is it ok because you have found me again. Without your vision you could not fulfill you purpose and without that ability you lost me… Peace.”
My chest began to pound hard as the fire of passionate purpose and destiny regained made its way into the deepest chambers of my heart.
“I prayed for Peace! You, you are Peace… Perfect Peace.” I said looking at her. “That is your name; that is who you are.”
We spent a few hours there at her house talking about the past, and things to come. I walked through her house looking at all the items that were laying around there just waiting to be reunited with their owners. You could almost hear some of them calling out to be found.
For the first time in years I was at totally peace and rest. Not only was I at rest and completely stress-free but my vision was back. It felt so amazing to be seeing through my glasses again. I guess I really never noticed how blurry my life was without them.
After I had finished off a few more cookies and cups of cocoa Peace came over to me and patted my back. “Now it is time for you to go.” She began to walk me towards the hallway that led to my bedroom door. “You have found what you have needed and have found me. If you keep those glasses on you should never have a problem finding this place again. When you are living as you were destined to, you will always be able to rest here. Just don’t take those glasses off again.”
Peace walked me down the hall and up to the bedroom door, which was closed; she gave me a big hug, burying her little white head into my chest. “Go now, there is a lot that you must do. You have got to get busy. Don’t dilly-dally round. I have others showing up soon to serve and restore lost items to. Come back and visit me soon Samuel.”
“You know that I will.”
She turned around and walked back down the hall towards the kitchen to bake someone else something amazing. I stood at the closed door with my hand firmly gripping the door-knob. Who would believe this story? How would I try and explain this to my wife, who was sleeping soundly on the other side of this door? Would I tell this to my friends or family? I guess that the only thing that matters at this point is how my life will change once I take this next step.
I have found Peace again, and in the process regained my vision. This night of mystery and revelation has caused me to understand and see things more clearly. It is time for me to get back on tract, time to live by faith and passion, time to make history; be a world changer – time to walk through the door.
I slowly turned the handle and took a step forward. Somewhere in the darkness behind me I could still smell those cookies.
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