There she was, rocking slowly in the moonlight, her stockinged feet kneading the porch planks like she hadn’t ever done it before. But she had. Every night for fifty some-odd years. It was her ointment, she told me, a balm she used for soothin’ her soul. For soothin’ her soul? I smiled half-like, not really understanding her all the way. That’s when she clarified. “Because I had my blank message, that is,” her eyes sparkling like a Carolina star. My smile stayed stuck. And she noticed. Ms. Dorothy noticed everything. That’s when she took her hands out of her apron and put one on my knee and said, “Here darlin’, listen right hard. I have somethin’ important to tell you now, ok?”
* * *
It was late at night. The children were in bed, her husband was still at work and the cat, he purred in her lap, the two of them reveling in the warmth of the fire.
“Shall we go to bed then, Avery?” she asked the cat. And not a second later came a knock on the door. “Well who in heaven’s name might that be?” she said right quick. “Am I dreamin’?”
But there it was again. A nice knock but still, a very late knock. Dorothy set Avery down and slipped her feet into her shoes, leather pumps from Belk’s.
“Comin!” she yelled.
His face was kind, she reminisced to me. Kind in the way faces with lots of wrinkles tend to be. But it was his eyes that she remembered best. Yes, his eyes.
“Can I help you?” she asked the stranger.
“I don’t think so,” he said.
Dorothy humpfed. “Well then, what are you doin’ on my porch so late at night?”
“I came to give you this,” he outstretched his hand with a dandelion puff.
Dorothy didn’t know what to say so she did the polite thing and said, “Why, thank you.”
“You know what it is, don’t you?”
“Well, call Aunt Ginny Uncle John, of course I know a dead dandelion when I see one.”
But the old man shook his head. “You don’t know, do you?”
“Don’t know what? Your name? Yes, you’re right. I know I don’t know that.”
“It’s David. And that there,” he nodded toward her, “is a message.”
Dorothy gave him her second humpf of the night. “A message? Are you tellin’ me I need to cut my lawn? Well, I never...”
“No, ma’am,” said old man David. “I brought you a message, and not just any old message, a blank one.”
“And what pray God, is a blank message?”
Old man David cleared his throat. “It’s a message for you to make into anything you’d like. Whatever you need, whatever you want to hear, whatever you long for, that’s what it is. It’s blank but it sure isn't empty. And it’s just for you.”
Right then and there on her front porch, Dorothy saw old man David’s eyes for the first and last time. They were lit from within and echoed his soul. Looking back she didn’t know how she knew what she did, but deep inside, she just did. It was the God to honest truth. His eyes echoed his soul.
“Would you like a cup of tea?” she said gently.
“Why no, thank you, I must be goin’ now. You see, it’s gettin’ late and I have a lot more work to do.”
She reached out to shake his hand but at the last second thought better of it and leaned in to give him a hug instead.
They embraced like old friends.
“Thank you, David.”
“It’s my pleasure. Just passin’ the torch. Passin’ the torch to a woman who is more than deserving.” And just like that, he shared a happy chuckle and turned down the stairs.
* * *
The Wednesday Wish this week is a blank message for you, one that you get to squish and squeeze and poke and knead into anything at all that you desire. Do you need to be reminded that you are truly beautiful? Have you forgotten that you are loved? And what about the difficult day you just had? Did you forget to praise yourself on handling it all so well? Do you need a little compassion for fudging on your diet and eating what you weren’t supposed to? Or what about a compliment? Do you need one of those? For we all do sometimes. Your blank message is a reminder that whatever you need, is yours for the taking. If you can imagine it, it will be….and like Dorothy, you might just find your blank message to be a delightful little balm for soothing your precious soul.