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May 24th, 2020
Lucilius kept a garden that extended into a cool stand of woods. There was no line between the area he tended and the woods that tended themselves. It was a dance of attention that he paid and had been for many years. Beyond the bright light of the main garden, he felt he could find deeper sanctuary where the world tended itself. He was sitting on a huge old root, the spot bare and smooth from years of sitting, surrounded by felt moss. He opened his eyes from meditation and found that a wild orchid had finally fully bloomed. The color was like a hole in the canopy, a pop of brightness heldfast in time.
Lucilius smiled, having watched the green stem rise over the years, the ghostly roots tapping their way out around the rock that pinched in, to it’s hold in the earth.
The sound of taps on the lazy stone path drifted and pulled Lucilius’ gaze toward the way back to the garden. A young man approached with cowed face, his brow bent round some pain, warning of some question that haunted the man.
The young man bowed before Lucilius.
Lucilius chuckled. “No need to bow, my friend.”
The young man stuttered to speak. “I’m told that you have answers.”
“Eh,” Lucilius said, amused by the statement. “Well, it’s not like I keep anything hidden away, so I’m not sure what I have in that respect.”
The young man looked confused, nearly afraid, and Lucilius’ compassion for the young man helped him take a different approach.
“What can I do for you?”
“I want to know how…” the young man stopped, as though suddenly searching for words that he’d had planned for so long. “well, I don’t – I don’t like myself. I hate who, I am. I can’t stand the person I am.”
He fell silent for a moment, the twist of it now out.
Sheepishly, he raised his eyes to meet Lucilius. “And, I want to know how to become someone who does not hate themselves.”
Lucilius tilted his head a bit, looking the young man up and down. He noticed how worn and dirty the man’s sandals were.
“Where are you from?”
“I have travelled from very far, to ask you this question. Very far,” the young man said, nodding his head.
“You left your people, your family, to travel all this way to ask me?”
The young man nodded.
“Why would you do such a thing?”
The young man looked confused.
“If your mother needed a medicine from very far away, would you make the journey to fetch it?”
The young man nodded, “yes, of course.”
“And why would you do that? Why would you go through so much trouble for your mother?”
“Because she is my mother! And I love her deeply.”
“But my boy, don’t you see you’ve just done that?”
The young man was confused. “but I’m not here for medicine to bring my mother.”
“You’re right. You’re not here for your mother. You came to find medicine for yourself. If you hated yourself, why did you go through all this trouble, come all this way to try and do something so kind, for yourself?”
Lucilius began to shake his head softly as the young man’s eyes were wide with the notion. The young man looked around, slowly, as though seeing the world anew. He looked back at the short stone path he’d taken into the wood.
“It’s hard for me to see any hate in someone who has already shown such extraordinary kindness.”
donating = loving
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