Time had passed, I was twelve years old. Things were getting better, I felt. I was accepting Frances’s and Ruth’s out pouring of love as an opportunity and freedom to allow myself to disconnect from the hate I felt for so long. Ruth enjoyed showering me with sweet treats. I didn’t dare complain, I loved it. Cherry pie and sugar cookies was my favorite. Chowder did his best to lick the crumbs from the corners of my mouth. Frances continued to take the time to teach me about the land and life. I was growing accustomed to my comfy and secure lifestyle.
I did notice a peculiar feeling had come over me one day. It lingered for a few days. It was a different feeling than I had felt before. I felt the persistence to let go, to forgive. I just wanted to rest in the beauty of what I had been given. The hate that had been haunting me for years was no longer welcome in my heart. One night it thundered so loud it woke me up. I tried to go back to sleep, but I found himself drawn to watch the thunderstorm from the front porch. It was late. Frances and Ruth were still sleep, undisturbed by the cracking sounds and flashes of light. I followed my gut and quietly walked out the front door and stood on the front porch. Chowder was right at my heels. The wind was strong, I had to hold on to the wood rail to keep my balance. My mind traveled to the words my father told me.
“Nature is the first teacher son, listen carefully to it and it will lead you into all truths.”
Those words rushed my inner core with force. When Frances talked about having purpose, I knew he was right. One day when I was small my father took me to the river not far from our village. I watched him dip seven times in the river. After the seventh time the elder present chanted a prayer over him and we all went back to the village. Later that evening I asked my father, “Why did you dip seven times into the river?” He explained that he had to wash himself so that he could forgive someone who had did him wrong. He wanted his soul to be free to live. I didn’t quite understand then, but it made sense while I stood watching the rain drench the land before me. All those tears flowing, washing away the sorrow and pain is what I envisioned. Hate will consume you if you let it, I didn’t want it anymore. I wanted to be free.
I felt better. I felt like my father was guiding me somehow, he didn’t want hate to consume me either. The next morning I told Frances I needed to go to the nearest river and dip seven times. He looked surprised and confused. Frances and Ruth asked me to explain. I told them about my father and my revelation last night during the thunderstorm. They understood and planned to take me to the pond on our property. Frances said he would call his good friend who was a clergyman to say a prayer. It didn’t take long to plan it all out. Ruth started right away preparing food, she said we should celebrate my new self with lots of good things to eat. I agreed with her, I knew that meant at least one cherry pie would be made. Frances jumped on one of his horses and took off down the long dusty road. He had to go talk to his friend the clergyman.
When Frances came back he had someone with him. His friend’s name was Paul, he greeted me right away after tying up his horse. Paul hand and hardy handshake and he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Antonio I am at your service.” I liked Paul right away. Ruth came out of the house with towels and we all headed towards the pond. Chowder lead the way, I wished Wilson was there to witness the event. He would’ve been proud of me.
With each dip in the cool pond I could feel a relief. My heart cried inside at the freedom it would experience. I thought of my family, my village on the seventh dip. When I came out of the water I released my hate and anger for the people that destroyed everything I once loved. From that point I created a different path for myself, one that had purpose and meaning. Paul said a prayer while Ruth wrapped a towel around me. My new life began that day, at that very moment.
After eating a big dinner that included cherry pie for dessert, Paul had to head home. I retired to my room, I had a letter to write. I needed to share my news with my sister Naomi.