Father Davidson came down from Deirdre’s wall, politely honoring her request; but he was back, dancing atop her wall the following day. He must have had some purpose, or seen some opportunity for helping Deirdre from up there; because he wasn’t one to antagonize another person maliciously, or for no reason. At least that’s my opinion.
Months passed in which Father Davidson often visited Deirdre in this way, even though there never appeared any opening for a reconciliation, nor any healing of the old wounds she carried towards him. Typically, his antics were met by her with chastisement, abuse or belittlement; so that it seemed to most casual observers that he must either be a glutton for punishment, or have a screw loose.
Father Davidson concluded his story about the desert in the late fall, and during the long, cold winter which followed, I never saw him. I returned to the campfire several times but he never appeared, as he said he wouldn’t; and his presence was nowhere to be seen around town. I expect that he spent most of the winter in his cabin praying, since he had explained to us at our last meeting together around the fire, that this is what he intended to do. Whether or not he visited Deirdre during the winter, or danced upon her wall during this time, I am unaware.
But when spring finally arrived it was a glorious rebirth of budding foliage and flowers, and the reemergence of the Father. He announced his return in a most subtle, and extravagant, and beautiful way; though only to one person, Deirdre, and to anyone else who might have caught sight of the sign and understood it. I happened to be up early this particular morning, and taking a long walk around town when I passed by the tall stone wall which sheltered Deirdre’s home behind it, and had lately often hosted Father Davidson’s tragicomedies. It is a sturdy old wall, made of brown basalt and held together by mortar; standing nearly seven feet tall, and perhaps roughly eighteen inches wide—it is normally imposing and solemn. But not on this morning; today it was welcoming and playful, festooned with a cacophony of flower petals piled across its entire ridge, and cascading across its face during every small breeze—leaving mounds of petals piled here and there against its base, and fluttering gymnastically across the street where I walked.
At that time I didn’t know Deirdre, but I heard her moaning from the other side of the wall and I wondered what it could mean. I also didn’t know or understand the meaning behind the flower petals, nor their connection within her heart to the memory of her dear little boy—long since gone. But I later learned that in this way, Father Davidson memorialized Ryan’s childhood gift of flowers to his mother—in this same way—every year on the anniversary of Ryan’s death. Was this kind, was it cruel? It evoked strong emotion from Deirdre, and she cried every time. This is how she later described it: at first the abundant flowers startled her, and then they unlocked a wellspring of sorrows which were held in check and unmoving but finally released each year, and then she felt peace, a deep calm that was always elusive, until after her outpouring of tears. She missed her boy, but she liked this tribute; it made her smile—finally, after all the tears had gone. Little by little it also caused her to reconsider her unmoving and stoic hatred of Father Davidson.
Eventually—she would later confess—she came to look forward to Father Davidson’s visits. For one, they broke up the monotony that her life had become; since she left the house infrequently, and almost never entertained guests. Secondly, the freedom she experienced while watching him, gave her hope. What kind of hope? It is difficult to say; she didn’t know. But the release that his antics created inside her, as she watched him play on top of her wall, this release allowed her to experience life again, and the darkness that had plagued her for so many years parted a little bit, allowing a little light into her soul. The hope she felt related to this feeling of lightness; hope, light, and freedom performed an alchemy that transformed Deirdre.
She had never been a religious, nor even a spiritual person, not that she could remember. Although, she still had some faint memories as a young child being a creative and imaginative person; and she remembered that these things opened doors in her mind, or was it her heart—or both—that seemed to touch upon the realm of other worlds. She still remembered those times, as a little girl, when she felt she could feel and hear angels; and thoughts of God were not antithetical to her nature.
But these things seemed a lifetime ago, and she doubted she could ever be that person again. For one thing, she was far too old now to entertain childish thoughts, wasn’t she? And even if she could allow herself the freedom to imagine once again, and to re-explore the things of her childhood, would it even be possible? How could she learn to do it? Even considering it made her feel afraid and inadequate. And she could hear her father’s voice, the memory of him telling her to grow up and to put aside such foolish thoughts; that she was a ridiculous and silly girl. His voice in particular seized her, and paralyzed her impulse to try again.
But now there was Father Davidson, who seemed to be calling her to confront these fears; and his presence gave her new courage. Perhaps it was possible to begin again; maybe she could discover herself after all the years of pain had obscured her vision. To survive, it had always seemed the better option to let herself disappear under layers of falsehoods, deceptions, and diversions. But honestly, she was tired of hiding, running and fighting; and she was curious to see what more Father Davidson might show her.
* * *