Gentle fingers smoothed the mound of dirt surrounding the sapling’s trunk, creating out of care a strong foundation, from which the little tree would grow. The man who tended the sapling knelt before it, his fingers lingering on the ground as if he could become a part of it. Five stones ringed the base, each one marked to reflect its soul and spirit, their heaviness rivalled only by the heart that had placed them. Though the rocks themselves were silent, they shouted with voices lent to them by the memories they’d been assigned. They were of the past, and they were meant to guard the future.
Raising his head, the man brushed the soil from his fingers and the last of the tears from his eyelashes. Slowly, he removed a silver ring from his finger. He pressed it to his lips and whispered, “You were all of my strength. Without you, I can barely stand.” Then, with solemn reverence, he slipped the ring around the sapling’s tallest branch and crowned it with the silver. “You deserved royalty,” said the man, and he nodded his head in thanks.
Next, he untied the beaded bracelet strung around his wrist. “You were my smile,” he said with a slight upturning of his lips. “I lost my laughter when I lost you.” He then tied it around the sapling’s trunk, the rainbow beads shining keenly in the sunlight. The colour stained the wood with joy, and the man said fondly, “You were the paint that coloured my grey sky,” and he nodded his head in thanks.
His fingers worked reluctantly to remove the emerald-studded pin from his cloak, and he held the trinket in his palm for a moment. “You were my determination. Your guidance was my only hope.” Wondering where he was to go next, he carefully put the pin into the crook of the sapling’s branches, letting a beam of green light reflect from its surface. “You never gave up on me,” he said, and he nodded his head in thanks.
Taking a moment to remember its sweetness, he then took a morning glory from his cloak’s pocket, holding the now-withered flower with great tenderness. “You were my beauty,” he murmured, “Now what grace do I have left?” Eyes lowered gravely, he placed the flower at the foot of the tree, to catch the colours of the beads. “You deserved a more beautiful end,” he said regretfully, and then nodded his head in thanks.
Exhaling deeply, he then pushed himself to his feet and pulled his gleaming sword from its scabbard. He took a moment to study it, to take in once more its sleek lines, its silver elegance; to remember what it had done, what he had done through it; the lives he’d saved and ruined, the hearts he’d won and broken. The longer he looked at it, the heavier it felt in his hand, so that it was made leaden with the weight of its memories. Without any misgivings, he then turned its point to the ground and pushed it deep into the earth, next to the tree. With a scrap of string, he tied the two together, so that the sapling might gain strength from the sword, and the sword might gain patience from the sapling.
“You were my light,” said the man very quietly. “But you were my darkness. As you were my cure, you were also my affliction. My dreams on you were built, and my nightmares from you fed.” Going again on one knee, he said, “You are my reason to begin anew,” and then he nodded his head in thanks.
He closed his book, put down his pen, and removed the glasses from his nose. The house was silent in its emptiness, and the man’s restless thoughts echoed loudly in the room. His brow was lined with worry, but still his heart remained firm. This wasn’t the kind of decision that could be made with the mind.
Pushing his chair from the desk, he glanced outside his window. It was dusk, night now approaching, and the morning glories outside his window were beginning to close their petals. They were bringing an end to their beauty, but he knew that it was only for a while. In the morning, they would open again, begin the day anew, and once more grow in radiance.
And so would he. He had brought a close to the book, to the story, to but one volume in the series. He had gained, and he had lost, he had loved and he had learned, and now it was time to announce his end.
So that he may start anew.
Once I walked a path that led me nowhere. What I gained, I lost, and I was losing my image of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I’ve put an end to that chapter, and I’ve turned to my next blank page, so that I may begin anew.
There are times when we must end so that we can begin a new adventure, a new story, a new life for ourselves. They happen to every hero, those moments of renewal, and they do nothing but strengthen us.
Have you ever had to begin anew? What have you learned since then?
May you always have the wisdom to see when a new beginning is needed, and the bravery to carry through with the end.