I’m sick of fortitude. She’s been staring at me ever since July. Botticelli’s painting, a small print of it, a bit worn around the edges, stuck to my fridge.
My single-eyed focus is wavering. Miss Navel-Gaze and Mrs. Self-Absorption are friendly companions. Over a mug of steaming coffee, they commiserate with me.
They help me try to figure myself out, no rigid battle mode here. At their kind insistence, I’m giving myself a little more-than-usual grace. We’re going to figure this out, create some some steps for fixing things. Just why can’t I get myself together anyway?
I’m nervous I’m going to mess up, fail. But my companions are helping me take care of me, to keep my focus on my needs.
Who’s that peeking in at the window? That headdress is hideous. She’s pointing, dress billowing in the wind, towards my daughter, who needs help. I stand, push out through the door, and reaching Ella, I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving. She has only a small cut. My companions beckon at the door of the house, fresh coffee and ease in their hands. I look hesitatingly to the side of me. She stands there. Still, resolute, obedient, faithful. Weariness and slothfulness tug me toward the house, forgiveness, understanding, and strength ooze from this warrior.
I slowly turn, bare feet on cold earth, seeing my husband getting out of his car, eyes weary, arms full. I see gardens needing clearing after the frost, I know of four pounds of beef thawing on counter for this evening’s meal.
Fortitude calmly takes my hand, her sword held purposely in the other. She gives me a tiny smile.
I want that inner strength I see in her battle-worn face. I want this posture of restful readiness and watchfulness. A waiting purposefully for the next right thing.
Ignoring the clanging coming from those voices, I squeeze her hand back and take a step towards living death. Death to self as primary. One of love, not of anxiousness, which I sense from her is really selfishness, after all, it is a preoccupation with self. I take a step towards my husband, kissing his cheek, her sword slashes at the hovering navel gazing, never loosing her grip on me. I do menial tasks, her by my side, I listen to endless conversations from children, cooking meals to feed a crowd, she is stomping self-absorption into dirt. Together, the hard, becomes beautiful.
I look over at that wretched-lovely art print and I thank God for it. It’s trumpet call to humble myself under the mighty hand of God, and He will lift me up. I’m armed and restfully waiting with Fortitude.
May I be bold enough to dive into the tumult with her each and every blessed day I’m given. Fortitude, stand on and continue to shine forth.