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Silence - Diane Brody

Silence - Diane Brody


12"x 24"x 1 1/2"


Through the Depths
by Marie Q Rogers

I lost count of the times the shaman invited me into the mountain. My first answer—a categorical “No.” He persisted. His stories told of seekers who’d undergone wondrous transformations. He wore away my resolve like water wears rock.
I followed him to the dark edges of my mind but lacked courage to proceed. What lurked in those shadows? Sins long buried, not forgotten? Actions, thoughts, intentions too shameful to bring into the light? Memories, poignant, painful? And more beyond consciousness. Or vaguely in the margins of consciousness, thus unspeakable.
“Why focus on the dark?” he asked. “There is also light.” 
The light lured me into the gloom. He lit a torch. I followed.
Squeezing through a jagged cleft in the rock, we entered a limestone vault that absorbed torchlight. Shades flickered on pale gray walls. The fissure through which we’d arrived was swallowed by a fold of stone. No light betrayed its presence. There was no going back.
I sheltered my head with my arms and folded in on myself.
“Come,” he said.
“How far?”
“The other side of the mountain. The only way.”
The shaman’s torch bore on, into a place as tight as a womb. Darkness engulfed torchlight.
Memories and hints of memories, pain and guilt, stretching back to childhood, assaulted me. I clenched my fists to keep from touching them, but one soft dark thing broke through. I caressed it. The warmth of my hand dissolved its foulness.
“See?” said the shaman. “Your mind creates monsters that don’t exist.”
He slipped through a narrow crevice that began to close behind him. The torch dimmed. “Don’t abandon me!” I shed guilt and followed to another chamber.
Torchlight barely reached the walls. Shapes emerged to half form in the gloom, phantasms bearing faces I’d wronged. I cowered against condemnation. The faces softened. Was I forgiven? A face before me transformed to one I saw daily in the mirror. Every face, my own, smiled.
“It’s hardest to forgive yourself,” he whispered.
Our path intersected with a stream whose course led ever downward, to the very roots of the mountain. Crushed by its weight, I moaned.
He lifted me. “It’s not your burden to bear alone.”
Climbing, each bend in the path brought new trials. Passages led off I knew not where. The torch burned low. Would we wander, lost forever, our bones crumbled into limestone?
The expiration of hope births a certain freedom. A mantle I’d worn through memory slipped away and laid me bare. The torch flickered. The shaman dropped it into the dust, extinguishing it. 
Darkness no longer threatened. He shone with light brighter than the torch. I reached for him. He motioned toward me. “Behold the source of the light.”
His was only a reflection. I looked upon myself and found it—the light was I! Up the path, sunshine emerged from between two rocks. At the exit, I turned back to him, but he was gone.

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