Purgatory’s jewel

We are lured to the water in tacit tribute to an unseeable unity, both in periods of inspired stillness and foreboding ferocity, with terrible waves woven together in frightful patterns undetected by sense or sentience. One afternoon, my wife and I witnessed the ocean’s furtive magic while moored at a local marine park dock.

While preparing lunch, we watched a woman refocusing from the cruelty of a callused age, melancholy’s celebratory dance weighing heavy on her back, striking near submission into purgatory’s jewel.

With sorrow as her sole companion, we looked on at her nearly beaten aura, bearing the impossible weight of a thousand restless souls, forced her head down in submission as she slouched with death’s lovely sweetness toward the end of the pier.

Despite the posture of acrimonious acquiescence, her walk curiously carried the grace of a solitary unlit candle, furnishing energetic comportment while radiating impassioned vibrancy. She held the line in her distance from demise, a slender cord barely able to abide the weight.

With a rawness reserved for saying goodbye to one lost to the grand mystery, she revealed a small plastic bag, pressing it firmly into her chest over her heart. Hobbled by life’s soporific soliloquy of inconsolable grief, the bag’s contents unceremoniously fell into the sea. 

My wife and I felt the shadowy groundswell of her pain wash over us as the cremated remains dispersed in the moving ocean.

I stood frozen, paralyzed in emotion, and unable to act. My wife, far wiser in the moment, stepped off the boat onto the dock and offered the woman a hug rich in fluid authenticity. The woman wordlessly accepted. The two held each other as a single point of light form, sharing love’s concealing power.

After several minutes, the woman turned away to kneel while staring at the floating ashes. Finally, she got up from her knees, and silently walked away, never having uttered a single word to us. We never saw her again.

Society downplays feelings, and instead places value on monetizing life’s transactions with temporal drama. Yet science cannot unequivocally assign causation to life’s most powerful attribute, emotion.

Love, empathy, and gratitude continue to astonish us, mysterious and unexplained, as wildly unpredictable as the open ocean, holding meaning firmly at the edge of human understanding, in the realm of the sacred language of the soul.

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