The Art of Mirriam Neal

//when the sun goes down and the lights burn out

The last two nights I’ve spent several hours on my back, staring up at the sky. It’s been so clear that not only are planets bright and visible, but the galaxies behind them. I squeal every time I see a shooting star. It feels so personal and special, somehow, even though I know thousands – maybe millions – of other people are doing exactly what I’m doing at that very moment. Looking up, I wondered if maybe God sends us phenomena like this so we remember to look up. So that we can see the artwork above that we’re usually too focused on ourselves to notice. In a way it was very therapeutic, even worshipful.

Ever since things blew up last month, I’ve been different. I’ve noticed this difference. I’m more withdrawn. I’m more anxious – names of people are mentioned, or cross my mind, and I’m seized with residual fear that makes it hard to focus on anything else. Apparently, even the shape of my eyes changed overnight, according to my Mom. They’re sadder. I hadn’t thought it affected me this much, but the truth is, my heart was broken in a way it had never been broken before.

I was talking with Arielle and telling her how stupid I felt, and she said, “Mirri, there are things that scar us deeply and when the scars are rubbed or pressed, the pain comes back. Sometimes it’s ‘phantom pain’ so to speak, and other times the memory of that pain and guilt is so real that it tries to consume us. I don’t think it’s stupid. I think it means that we have a burning fire to not repeat the mistakes of the past and that’s why the memories are so potent.”

When I told her I knew I was withdrawing and I didn’t want to be, she said she had noticed it, too. “A bit of your energy and fire is missing. I even wondered if TCOT [The Color of Truth, a novel I’m writing] was a part of your healing process and if in writing it, you’d regain what you’ve lost. It’s a season. It’s autumn or winter in your spirit right now and you’re putting one foot in front of the other on the way to spring.”

That’s the thing. Usually, I live in spring. I’m not used to winter. If something isn’t personally connected to me, it’s hard for me to feel deeply about it. This was so personal that it felt like someone I used to trust had reached into my chest and ripped my heart out. The last few years have been a big trust exercise for me – learning to put my faith in people again, to believe what they say and to be fully honest no matter what might happen. I felt like I’d reached the top of the mountain and an avalanche had sent me back to the bottom.

But the last couple nights, lying on the deck and watching stars rain down, felt like a cleanse. Like a reminder that whatever I’ve done has been forgiven and wiped clean. My savior has forgotten about it, and I should, too. Before I went inside the night before last, I stared up at the quiet sky and prayed, “Please. Just send me one more.” A moment later, one of the brightest stars I’d ever seen shot across the sky and was gone. I almost started crying, sitting in the dark, because I wasn’t alone. That shooting star was a miracle for me.

I don’t know when I’ll ‘have my fire back.’ I think I need The Color of Truth right now – I need a project to fully engross me, something to dive into. And I’m so grateful for family who loves me and friends I can lean on. I’m so grateful for a God who listens to a pathetic prayer on a back deck late at night. I need to focus outward and less inward, and I need to realize that winter doesn’t last forever.

“We shall have spring again.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq8Dgcy4MDY

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