There was once a girl who lived on the streets. She had quit school at the age of thirteen. She lived in Florida where it was hot and sultry most of the year. She always seemed to be sweating and exhausted. Her long flax-colored hair was tangled and sweaty, and her skin was warm and tan from the sun. Her jeans were covered with hand-sewn patches of various shapes and colors. She loved tie-dye and shades of purple. Sometimes she wore a tapestry headband or a bandana around her brow. She was very thin and sometimes felt very weak and shaky from hunger and hangovers. She stood on street corners asking for money, so that she could buy a bowl of rice and a cup of tea at the natural foods restaurant nearby. Sometimes the pretty waitress with dimpled cheeks there would give her some free bread crusts or a piece of carrot cake that had crumbled and could not be sold.
The girl had large wilting blue eyes, which blazed wildly from the drugs she was taking. Her friend had an apartment next door to a drug dealer who knew that she liked LSD and mescaline. He needed someone to try out his samples before he bought very much of it, so she would try them out for him. The drugs seemed to carry her like a feather into the wind, and her senses were awakened in other worlds where she thought perhaps she could find God or a white light or something that would make sense of her existence. She was hurt very deeply, as if a thorn was in her that she couldn’t dig out.
She was often hungry and wandering and hitchhiking to other states. Once she had been picked up by an old redneck farmer with a Southern accent who raped her and left her by the side of the highway in the cold winter. She was thankful to be alive. She always seemed to be in some kind of danger, but she didn’t seem to value her life very much.
She was taken in by men from time to time who gave her food and slept with her and used her. Many times she didn’t even know their names, and she would wake up the next morning and find that they were gone. She fell in love a couple of times, but she found out she was only a toy, and her heart broke like a porcelain doll. Then she decided to avenge herself, and when men loved her, she played with their minds as if they were marionettes and sometimes had three or four of them dancing in her hand at one time. She enjoyed watching them suffer on her account, until they grew weary of it and gave up on her. She had become prettier and more experienced and knew how to lure them.
She loved fairy tales with happy paradoxical endings, and medieval style art. She always had a little bottle of ink and a quill pen and a little sketch book with her and she would sit on a park bench or in the grass against a tree and draw. She would recite this poem as she scribbled:
I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth
And laid them away in a box of gold
Where long shall cling the lips of the moth
I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth.
I hide no hate, I am not even wroth
Who found the earth’s breath so keen, so cold
I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth
And laid them away in a box of gold.
She drew angels and gentle hands and faces of ethereal people she never met, and magical trees and flowers and birds she never saw. She often sketched cities and forests and lovely places that she imagined existed somewhere outside of her grasp. At one point, someone gave her a little lavender bicycle with a basket and she put her art supplies in the basket when she rode around town. It was nicer than walking in the heat, but someone stole her sketch book out of the basket and eventually her bicycle was taken as well.
She sometimes felt that someone she had once known was calling to her, someone who truly loved her. In one instance, she was lying on the grass in the park and she had a vision that she was standing at the foot of a gigantic wooden cross that reached into the clouds. She was trying to see the top of it, when suddenly she felt something wet and warm like summer rain falling on her. She held out her hands and looked at them, and they were covered with large drops of blood. She could not see the one on the cross because the clouds were shrouding him in the sky. But she suddenly realized that the blood was for her in particular, that she caused the death of the one who was bleeding. She knew that his pain was even greater than her own.
She dreamed once that she was walking through the snow in a long white dress and that she was wounded somehow, and the blood was flowing onto her white dress and dripping in the snow. She wondered if it meant that someday she would give her life to the one who gave his life for her.
Another time, she dreamed that she was wandering through a huge city and did not know where she was. She was filthy and barefoot, and she wandered into a huge building with green glass windows. The polished marble floors were cold under her feet. As she walked in, she saw people staring at her with disgusted looks and hatred, but she ignored them and went straight to the elevator. She pressed the button to go to the top, but she didn’t know why. When the bell rang and the door opened, she stepped in, and the door shut again. Then she realized she wasn’t alone. A man with a long white linen robe was looking at her. Tears were gathering around his eyes as he searched her face. She tried to look at the floor, but she could still feel his eyes upon her. No one had ever looked at her like that. She felt filthy and pitiful, but she felt his love burning a hole in her chest. She woke up before the elevator got to the top floor. She never forgot about the man who loved her and wept for her.
This young girl was constantly overshadowed by trouble but always felt someone calling to her on the inside. She heard him and felt his presence many times, and she loved him but was afraid of him at the same time. She knew that one day, she would have to give in to him, but she was still bitter and angry at the world and wanted to lash out.
You may wonder how I know this girl so well. It is because that little ragged girl was me. I can still see her in my mind’s eye, and she will always live inside of me.
I finally became acquainted with the One who kept calling me, and realized that I am His daughter, and He has always loved me since the beginning. Even more amazingly, He is a King and I am an heir to everything that belongs to Him, so I no longer have to live in pain and sorrow over the things that happened to me. He has established His covenant with me, and has placed a Comforter and Counselor inside of me, so that I can always have joy and peace within, no matter what my circumstances are.
(Note: Poem by Countee Cullen)