All she sees is the middle, and that’s where she hangs her reality. She loses sight of the object of her destination. Instead, fear, born of stories she and others have told her, forces her to imagine what she perceives to be on the hidden edges of the centerpiece right in front of her.
Frightening scenes of toxic hooks embedding themselves in humans and beasts, sinuous muscles crushing bones, spilling blood and tissue, and gaping holes devouring torsos intact paralyze, then finally shake her out of her nightmare.
Her mind and senses overtaken by conditioned reflexes, she maddeningly retreats and stumbles back to the safety of her home.
Another day in the life of Doris, during her childhood growing up in the rural town of Massie’s Mill, Virginia (1940’s – 1960’s).
One of the chores for Doris and her four siblings was to tote water for all the cooking, washing and cleaning from the cool freshwater spring under the decades old tree at the bottom of the hill. That evening, being the last to contribute her lot, she had gone a bit later.
A few minutes later, frantically returning to the house with her empty pail, she gives her horrifying story of what she had seen on the path.
Her father, exhausted from work but concerned, gently walks his distraught and unwilling daughter back to the path. On the trail at the exact spot where she had engrossed her eyes, her father reaches down and picking up the fallen tree branch, leads Doris to the spring, and sits with her while they both drink deeply!
How often do we miss out on the joys of living because of preconceived threats to our life, livelihood, morals or status? How often do we fail to leave our comfort zone to meet people who are not like us because of biased accounts of them? How often do we fail to listen to what someone else has to say because we are so ingrained in our beliefs and self-righteousness that we refuse to respect another’s beliefs by not opening up our hearts to see and hear?
Are we always going to stay in the middle? Gripped by fear? Stymied by ignorance? Sometimes the middle is not the best place. Let’s try the edges sometimes! There could be healing for the wounds, purging from the squeeze and salvation in the transformation!
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Doris Durrett is a former Anne Arundel County Public School teacher. Twenty-seven of my years were as a middle school language arts teacher and fourteen years as a reading resource teacher in an elementary school. I retired in 2013 and have been enjoying my time visiting with grandchildren, volunteering for several nonprofits, taking classes (one of which is creative writing), engaging in and meditating on Bible studies, and seeking to live a life of gratitude.