For the last weeks, Sici’s collected boxes. One fits inside another inside another. She will wrap them in different papers, and her friends will unwrap one at a time, passing the square around the party circle.

I’m not sure if it’s the peeling itself or watching friends discover the center she most anticipates, but we know there’s something about uncovering mystery and getting at the heart.

I sit in a circle, and we — black, white, Latino — talk the unspoken of race, and we peel skin like onion paper. Dropping layers before each other is good and it hurts, and we misunderstand, and we try to speak bravely with hearts pulsing love because God first loved us.

None in the circle is the sum of appearance, hue, experience, thoughts or feelings, though to love, we need to know these boxes.

But, too, we humans are indefinable by the layers, and it’s still mystery, the four sides that hem and stuff and limit and the essence of what’s truly inside. Sometimes I fear what’s there and showing it and being misjudged or hurting her as she reveals her core.

On Friday, friends of many years sit around a dinner table and speak out loud the inner assumptions we make about how we are seen when we enter a room. The conversation fascinates us — our same and different and the inside walls of these realities stored away in shadow within the first few boxes.

I basically assume people will like me.

I think they will probably like me once they get to know me.

I think they will misjudge me, so I’m trying to figure out what they need from me.

I assume they won’t get me, and it will take them a long while to know who I am. 

We shift out from four sides and reveal more from the insides.

This morning, I read about Hagar — oppressed, cast aside, wounded, breathing despair — and God speaks to this running, hurting woman beside a spring in the desert, and she calls the water Beer Lahai Roi, the Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.

She is refreshed by being seen. She is sustained in the place she is seen. She is made new as she is seen.

She is not maidservant to Sarah, despised woman, mother of Abraham’s baby, not even Hagar. She is one who is more and knowing she is known breathes hope.

Somewhere deep inside her walls, she recognizes that layers peeled without love wound and minimize, but to be known and loved as wrappings come loose — oh, friends, how that frees.


Today, I’m joining up again with dear Amber Haines of The Runamuck, as we continue our exploration of voice in writing — using words we can see and touch to express things we cannot. Please visit Amber’s to read her glorious writing and that of other writers and friends who link up there. This week’s piece began with the prompt “THE BOX.”


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