I have tried to write this several times without being too sappy or trite – because sappy and trite are things of which I am fond. However, it could not be done. With that warning, here goes.
The first time I met “Mary” she was less than two months away from her death. She was nearly catatonic, and the only words she would ever speak were “Oh come let us adore him.” Mary’s skin was paper thin, and I could every blue vein in her tiny body. She had these huge shiny brown eyes – where – when you looked into them – you felt a sense of kindness you never knew existed. On her left hand she wore tiny gold band had left a permanent mark on her forth finger. When I walked in the room to meet Mary, everything felt different. The sun was setting and as it sank in the sky it came through the windows and lit up Mary’s hair – making the gray strands appear golden. Mary was – the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Every patient and nurse at the hospice was drawn to Mary despite the fact that she could barely move or speak.
I have heard stories about gold since I was a young whippersnapper (yeah, I know I still am). I remember hearing that gold was the most precious of all metals. It is so precious it was gifted to Christ, thought of as God poop by the Aztecs, and is traded in tons every day around the world. For hundreds of years, gold is a thing for which people have sailed across oceans, killed women and children, starved nations and raped the earth.
Beyond being a tangible metal, gold is also quite symbolic. Several religions tell of beautiful things called auras. In simple terms, aura is the energy that a person radiates. Some believe that auras can be so astounding that within moments of meeting a person, you can tell whether his/her energy is bad (and you want to run away) or good (and you feel drawn in). The most sacred (and rare) of all auras is the golden aura. The golden aura is symbolic of wisdom, intuition, divine protection – and – enlightenment.
Moving away from metals and auras and back to Mary…. Since Mary could not speak, the first time I met Mary I decided to read to her. The hospice has only two books on file – both of them by Helen Steiner Rice (cheesy rhyming wizard to the stars). With one hand I held the book and flipped through the pages and with the other I grasped Mary’s thin flesh. I read a few terrible rhyme schemes straight out of cruddy Hallmark cards before I landed upon another story about gold. This one was titled, “The Windows of Gold.”
The story is about a little boy who lived on a mountain. Shining off in the distance from the boy’s mountain home he sees gold. The little boy admires the gold so much that he leaves his mountain town to find it. The little boy walks and walks until he comes to a city. In the city, he finds that what was shining was not gold – but the reflection of gold from the city in which he came. The story ends on …. “Is not a far distant place, somewhere. It’s as close to you as a silent prayer. And your search for God will end and begin. When you look for Him and find Him within.”
At this point, I am reading to a dying woman – watching the gold radiate from her body. So yes, I started crying.
That is the thing about gold. People spend years searching for it. They give it to others, they think it is God poop, they kill for it, rape for it, search for it, do everything for it. However, I saw gold. I saw the most precious thing in the world. And I did not find it by murdering women or children or digging through the mines of another country. I found gold radiating from the aura of a dying woman. It was so strong that it radiated from every pore, every cell and every gray hair on her withering body.
Mary will forever be one of the most amazing people I have ever met. She is amazing because she was the first person I met who realized that gold is something that comes from within. Mary found gold through a life of prayer and devotion, as symbolic in the only words she would speak… “Oh come let us adore him.” However, that is not to say that there are not millions of ways to find gold within. Prayer, meditation, silence, mounting climbing, baking, sewing, knitting, hiking, anything that involves self reflection. Gold is there. It is in all of us – just waiting for that moment when we realize it has been in us all along.