The Relic

For our class moodle I had to respond to this prompt:

Take a moment and think about winter time when you were growing up. What kind of heating did you have in the house where you lived? What are some of your favorite winter time memories from your childhood or youth?

I particularly like what I wrote. This was my response:

The Relic

I was a pilgrim waiting in line, shuffling forward to the holy relic that, if I was lucky, I could see each year. I was penitent. I was faithful. Would I get my turn? Would I be able to see it, or would I still be just too young?

My sister and my brother knew about the relic. They told me about how it was miraculous and how magical it was to touch it, to feel it with their own fingers. I always wondered what it would feel like. Would it send a shiver up my skin? Would I feel the divine magic my older brother and sister claimed?

So I waited, waited patiently until the day came when we could line up. My father always thought it was a little silly, but my mother; she indulged us our pilgrimage.

We lined up dutifully at the altar, waiting to catch a glimpse for the relic when it was taken, ever so gently, out of it’s box. The little door would open and the relic would be taken out. Each of us would have a special moment – but only a moment- in which to hold it.

My brother, eldest, was first. He was eight years older than me, and he bit his lip. He was thirteen, an eighth grader, responsible now. Almost a man. He didn’t want to drop it. But he looked up at me beaming. Wonder spread across his face, and I think he would have danced around the room if given the chance.

My sister was second. She was a year younger than my brother, both half siblings from a previous marriage of my father’s. My mother was the best mom they ever knew. How could she ever keep them from this experience? So my sister stepped forward, and my brother handed her the relic. She jumped and gave a shake. She held it in her hands and joyfully sang out my name to take it from her. She held it like a baby chick – her hands cupped to hold it, to protect it, but clearly ready to pass it on. A small touch was all that she needed to experience it’s wonders.

Then it was my turn. I would have to take it from her. They were trusting me, little me, to take it in my hands. Didn’t they know I was only a Daisy Girl Scout? A kindergartner? The bottom of the totem pole? Didn’t they know that I was nothing? And yet I was told it was special, it was for me, it came, here, to San Antonio, on my very first Christmas. I should hold it. It’s been waiting. It’s been waiting for me.

So I took a breath, I sucked it up, I turned on my bravery, and I reached out to grab the holy relic.

It was cold in my hands. It was so cold that I felt it shoot up my arm. It was like nothing I had ever touched before, not even ice from the ice tray that we put in our sweet tea or Kool-Aid in summertime. But it felt glorious, like the rains that would come while drinking our tea. Rains that would cleanse the land and were soft and gentle. But then I got scared. I remembered how rains could come with wind, and bring hurricanes and tornados and the relic suddenly burned warm in my hand and I was terrified. I nearly dropped it.

But my brother, my sister, they were smiling. Things are both good and bad. Things are… mysterious. It was okay. There was magic. I pushed my finger against the relic, feeling how it was still soft after all these years. Feeling it mold under my finger. It was for me. As soon as I knew that, I handed it to my mother; I had held the relic long enough.

My mother took the relic. She put it carefully back into the freezer ziplock bag, the special kind that keeps out ice, and put it back into freezer box and closed the door.  We would only get one pass around each year because, ever since the first year, the year of my birth when the snow fell, the snow she saved would shrink each year under my brother and sister’s fingers. They remembered snow from when they lived in Washington and Oregon, but this was my first time. It was a relic from the year I was born and Central Texas had not seen snow since, nor would we ever in the time we lived there as a family.

After my parents divorced, the relic was lost. It would not make the trip to California. I would not touch snow until I was a sophomore in high school, the poor one of my friends, the last to ever see Tahoe with her own eyes. Then the flakes fell from the sky, precious, magical flakes that I revered as a child. I had not sen it fall since I was a toddler, flakes that fell in and out of my memory long ago.

In between that space of time was only rain. No more came the soft rain of spring and early summer, only the cold rains of El Nino that threatened my walks to school and the fortitude of my umbrella. Rains that brought winds, cold, and mud. Was that better than flooding in my early years? I am not sure. But still I remember each year, lining up at the altar of the refrigerator, passing around a shrinking piece of snow. We knew that if it ran out, if we continued to live in the warm comforts of Texas we would remember that snow. I would remember it. I would hold it in my mind until, some fateful day, God might grace us with his wonders again.


~ by glasslajora on January 23, 2011.

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