Face at the Window
Updated: Mar 12, 2022
Alone in the room, curtains fluttering over smudged window panes. I retreat deeper into myself so I shouldn’t see it: the dark, the dust, the cobwebs hanging low, the stubborn shafts of light sending the dust motes flying. I lean against the cold stone wall and hide in the shadows of my room.
The stifling conditions draw me to the window, where I frighteningly peek out. A face at the window summons me closer. Cajoles me out of my corner. Shows me the world beyond my little room. Look, it motions. Look past the pane of glass. See the fields of nurturance. The changing weather. The sun’s warmth. The storm’s beauty. The ocean’s roar. The stillness of the woods.
Fellow human beings.
I draw the curtains close, pull the shutters down.
I see not fields, but the potential of drought-induced famine. Not oceans, but deadly tsunamis. Not sun, but a scorching ball of fire. Not majestic storms, but destructible fury. Not the trees, but the shadows and danger lurking in them.
Not fellow people, but individuals on their own path, with their own goals, with no room for the other. With no room for me.
The dangers of life.
The face comes and goes. A fleeting presence, yet a steady one.
It steps away sometimes, but it always resumes its post, never abadoning my dark abode. Steady as ever, inviting me to experience something other than the dank hole of my existence.
Shutter slats now open. I let some sunshine in and keep looking toward the face at the window. We’re working in tandem now, shining the window pane so I no longer see the world solely through the eyes of those who sullied my soul with their fingerprints.
I see danger, but I also see opportunity. And then every so often, I’m drawn back in. My dark corner of familiarity holds networks of unexplored cobwebs begging for cleaning. There are skeletons in the closet; some need to be revived, others buried. There’s darkness so deep here that I can’t forsake this room without going through every crevice. Can’t abandon my very history for the light out there. My being's intertwined with this hovel of pain. I can't abandon myself.
I’m the one beckoning to the face in the window now.
Would you come in? Can you sit with me in this darkness? Can you see things from my vantage point? Can you feel the way the cold and shadows and dust take over everything? How the window is but one bright spot in so much confusion? How the sun’s rays often just make things worse, kicking up a dust storm and shedding light on the filth that was unseen in the dark?
But the face at the window shakes its head to and fro. No. I can only be with you through the glass. I’m here, at the other side of the pane. I see you, but from a distance. You can come out and I’ll be a little closer, but those quarters are yours alone. I can guide you from my post outside. You can hold things up for me and I’ll try to make sense of them; try to help you sort it.
But the room with all its darkness? The cold walls and floor tiles? The dust and skeletons and cobwebs? They’re yours alone.
Alone. Alone. The word bounces off the stone walls, ricochets through the musty air.
I’m doomed to a life of loneliness. I can’t abandon this room. That’s not an option.
The face at the window appears to be taunting me now. My hope crumples in a heap at my feet. And I realize… my darkness will never be seen by some other. What’s mine will never see the light of day. I have to work through this on my own.
So I draw the curtains close.
And instead of the window, I turn to the mirror.
The mirror that I have to dust and shine, and to wash the fingerprints off of.
I need to face myself and the sobering fact that existential loneliness will hound me all my life.
I am alone.
It’s just me and my face in the mirror.
I look upward in despair, at the small shaft of light in the lone skylight.
And I feel a Divine presence.
He peers from the windows. So I’m not really alone.
I look toward the cracks in the wall.
He peeks through the cracks. So I’m not really alone.
I have G-d in my corner too.
I am alone. With G-d.
I can’t look outward for solace or understanding.
Only inward. And Upward.