Emerge: move out of or away from something, and come into view.
It was a day in May in Oklahoma, and 30 years had passed since shame had silenced her tongue. A mama now, that girl from long ago was lifting the window to listen to her children play in the spring-green field behind her standard-issue military house. The sheer white curtain with its embroidered design billowed against her face, causing her tiny daughter to shout with glee: “it’s like you’re married!” The fifth-born boy clambered at her knees, and she fell with afternoon exhaustion into the old yellow rocker, catching her breath, remembering to breathe.
The curtain danced across her feet, circling waltzes up her lap and down again to the carpet, a thing beautiful, a thing free. The mama’s heart gripped. She reached for her camera as the loveliness squeezed at the stillest, truest places of her being, and she captured in pretty digital frames a yellow chair, a sheer white curtain, a lone green tree.
Sometimes in the stillness the woman could hear a story. Sometimes all the loveliness would play in front of her eyes and she would grasp at it, trying to chase with words. In vain she chased, for the loveliness would flit just past her reach, eluding her pen and only but teasing her fingers.
The story was always the same. It was her own story, full of battles and quiet; of beauty and redemption; as exciting and as mundane as any of our stories are truly. But when light shone through windows or wildflowers bloomed, or a child lay sleeping with complete, surrendered grace, she could hear The Story and she would hear the Storyteller calling her name.
She was a writer and she could not write. She still had to un-learn all the others’ expectations. She had to climb out from under the yoke of “never rocking the boat.” She had to shake off the fear of hurting someone’s feelings. She still had to learn how to listen closely to The Story and just write the words as they came.
This yoke of fear was a mantle attached snugly from years of attendance. Elijah had seen fit to toss his mantle to the ground and in an instant the chariot of fire set him free. The woman remembered. She realized that she would need to toss her own mantle and receive her own liberty, if she were to ever write–or live, or be–equally as free.
But when she did it, when she did rid herself of the hesitating shame, the words came. Mostly they pooled in her heart because she was a mama and she had little time to muddle through words and shape them on a screen. But sometimes the Littles would bed down early, or she would steal a few hours away, and the words would show up, surprising her with their command, thrilling her with their alacrity, even making her ill from the unearthing of so much pain.
She wrote. Through long nights she wrote, and hurried afternoons. Days or weeks would pass between words, as she practiced the key and learned to live The Story. Sometimes it could only be lived, not written.
But, she was learning to speak. She was learning to say “this is what I think” and not cringe. She was learning to say “this happened” and not fret over whom she might offend. She drew on principles, of course, and virtues, and considered how to make her words discreet but not deceitful; respectful but frank; honest but not too intimate; and how to write for an audience of both strangers and friends.
And slowly, that voice within her began to carry. The Story grew more clear. For the first time, she stepped out from behind those fig leaves, dwelling with her whole heart where before she’d been imprisoned by fear.