Tuesday, March 27

This is an old story of mine; I'm still working on it, and have nevergotten it right. Maybe it needs to be put into verse, or maybe just images. I'm not quite sure. But here is the latest version of the story, based on the 5 wise virgins and 5 foolish virgins from Matthew.
Rachel had looked forward to this day for as long as she could remember. The wedding day. Not hers, of course: no one had ever sought her out, but the wedding for her best friend. His family had lived next door to Rachel's for as long as she could remember. They'd played in the dusty streets as children; she'd heard him talk about his wedding day for many years. "When I come for my bride, it will be the happiest day in the world," he boasted, "and everyone in town will be there to help me celebrate. Rachel, you'll be sure to come too, right?" She'd promised she would, with all the faith her 9-year-old heart could muster.
The day came when he left, riding off on his father's donkey, to begin to build the house for his bride. When asked--as he often was--who was the lucky girl he'd chosen, his face would break into a huge smile. "She's the most beautiful girl in the world. And when we are married, everyone will see."
Some people expected Rachel to be sad that she was not the bride herself, but she wasn't. "I could never be a bride for him," she confided to her sister. "I'm not nearly good enough for him, and he needs the very best." Her heart ached for him sometimes, but she remembered his generosity and openness, and resolved to give up her friend, so that he might be happy with his bride and family.
Finally, the day of the wedding arrived. Rachel and her four sisters packed their lamps, their oil, and set out towards the house where the marriage party was expected to arrive. The day passed quietly, everyone hushed with expectation. As night drew near, Rachel and her sisters lit their lamps, determined to be awake when the groom arrived. The night dragged on, the stars lifting themselves above the horizon; Rachel sat in the quiet of the night, simply waiting to see the lights of the party coming down the road. In the darkest part of the night, over the horizon, she finally saw a faint glow. It came up the road, and resolved itself into the lights of the party; she could even hear the laughter and shouts of the groom as he made his way to the house. "Quickly!" Rachel shook her sisters into alertness; they began to rummage hurriedly for the small jars of oil for their lamps. A series of quiet wails arose from across the crowded courtyard. Rachel looked over to see a group of girls, lamps sputtering and flickering. "Does anyone have any oil? Our lamps are about to go out!" Rachel's sisters all shook their heads; no-one had thought of bringing more than she needed for her own lamp.
As the procession wound around the house and entered the gates, Rachel hurried across the courtyard and knelt beside the most distraught of the girls. "Here," she whispered, pouring most of her oil into the girl's lamp. "Quickly now, or you'll miss the party!" The girl leapt to her feet with a shy smile and ran inside to join the party. Rachel got up, but as she ran, her own lamp flickered, guttered, and then went out. Looking up, Rachel saw the gates of the house close, and the courtyard was plunged into complete darkness. Only the faintest hint of song leaked through the stone walls and into the silence outside.
Rachel fell to her knees on the hard stones and wept. She had never felt so dark and cold as she did now, shut out from the joy of the wedding feast. What seemed like hours later, she felt a touch on her shoulders, and looked up to see the groom standing there, smiling down at her. "Get up, Rachel, it's time to go in to the feast."
"But...but...I have no light, I cannot go."
He laughed then, eyes alit and dancing. " How can you say that you have no light? Look!"
He pullled her hands away from her face, and as she looked down, she saw a warm light, like a live coal, burning in her heart. The light grew and brightened, casting its glow on the cold pavement of the courtyard.
"Arise, and come away, Rachel. The winter is past, the rains are gone. Come in to the Feast."
As she rose numbly to her feet, he took her hand, and opened the doors, and she stepped into the light, the Bride coming home at last.

1 comment:

white rose said...

The twist makes your story remind me of O'Henry...but it's uniquely yours. Have you ever seen Edward Burne-Jones's image of this scene?