Darkness or Light
Where was that coming from, and who called her name?
Puzzled, Lucia looked behind her. No one called from that direction. She heard a woman call her name again. Lucia looked back into the door of the pharmacy she had just come from. No. No one in there.
“Yoohoo! Lucia! Over here!” Laura, a tall, slender woman, bounced up and down on the other side of the street, waving her arms. Lucia imagined the woman could easily have qualified for the old Signal Corps. Put a couple of flags in her hands, and she’s good to go, Lucia thought.
Laura dashed across the street, dodging honking cars. Breathlessly, Laura arrived in front of Lucia and caught her breath. “I am so glad I found you,” Laura gasped. “It’s imperative we get Vicky to leave her husband. I tried — God knows I tried — and she won’t do it!”
“For heaven’s sake, Laura. Breathe!” Lucia said, immediately regretting being so abrupt. “What is it that you are trying to tell me?”
Ignoring Lucia’s concern, Laura repeated, “You have to help me get Vicky away from that man!”
“We’ll work it out, sweetheart, but not right here in the middle of the street. Can you come to my house around four, and we’ll put our heads together?”
Sometime later, Sam opened the door and brought Laura in. “Mom, Mrs. Johnson is here,” he announced and made himself scarce.
Lucia made a grand entrance with a tray of coffee and freshly baked cookies.
“These are delicious,” Laura said, mouth full. “You have to give me the recipe.”
“I just slice them off the roll and throw them in the oven,” Lucia confessed modestly. “Now, we have about an hour before Gary gets home. Tell me about Vicky.”
Laura collected two more warm cookies for her plate. “Well,” she said confidentially, “Vicky still lives with Paul, her awful husband. Technically, they’re not married, but they do have two children. That would be just fine if they were happy, but they’re not. Paul comes home drunk and starts yelling like a mad man and saying, ‘Bring me my supper,’ and calling her nasty names right in front of the kids.” Laura leaned close to Lucia and whispered, “He hits her, Lucia. He does.” Tears formed in Laura’s eyes as she imagined the living hell poor Vicky endured.
“Does she love this man?” Lucia asked gently.
“No,” Laura replied. “We talked, and she told me she doesn’t think she has ever loved him. She says she thought she fell in love when they were dating, but now knows she was in love with the idea of being in love. Vicky says she has lost all respect for him.
Laura “I suggested to Vicky that she is more than welcome to come to my house with her children because I have plenty of space where they can stay till they get on their feet. But, she tells me that if Paul found out, he would kill her. Then she tells me that when Paul is not drunk, he is a very nice man, pays for everything, and is a very nice dad. But I never saw that.”
“Oh, my dear Laura, that kind of attitude Plato calls ‘life in shadows,’” Lucia responded. “Vicky fears the unknown so much that she prefers to live in chaos instead of seeking another alternative. That chaos is the only reality that she knows. The constant high level of stress keeps her from using her imagination to see moving to your house is a wonderful opportunity. With your ‘good will,’ your idea is a perfect mathematical formula already analyzed and proven because you are 100 percent sure that you are able to keep her in your house. For the time being, you need to ask Vicky to imagine the worst thing that can happen to her if she leaves Paul. Imagination is one of our greatest intellectual skills, and if she is capable of imagining the worst, she also needs to know that the worst never happens and that evil, as an idea, is nothing.”
Knowing Lucia as well as she does, Laura anticipated the next shoe — a philosophical coda. “Wait a minute, Lucia,” she said. “What are you going to tell me about the tons of evil that the world has suffered?”
Lucia’s immediate impulse was to stand and address the thought. But she restrained herself and remained sitting. “Very often we may hear someone actually say, ‘I hate my boss.’ And shortly after that, the boss walks by, and the person says, ‘Good morning, boss, how are you?’ As you see, that idea of hatred never concerned the boss for a second even though it may have caused a stomachache to the poor woman that held the hateful thought. This is one of the reasons I always give credit to Father Tobias when he says, ‘Thou shall not have evil thoughts.’ This is why when you wish evil toward someone, your imagination may cause you more harm than the evil thought may cause harm to the other.
“Vicky needs to leave the shadows behind her in order to see the ‘light of day.’ Plato would tell her that she needs to be illuminated by the sunlight. That means she needs to be capable of discovering the truth of the universal values such as goodness, courage, beauty, justice, and friendship. Those values are lacking in Vicky’s miserable existence while she coexists with her drunken and irresponsible husband. All of that will be banished when she dares to see the light.
“So,” Lucia continued, “Vicky needs to see the difference between the dark side of her life and the clear and healthy reality that awaits her outside of her cave. She needs to be able to step over the line of doubt and ask herself a lot of questions that may appear as instant problems yet ultimately lead to solutions. You see, Laura, what has Vicky so confused is that for her, her life is not a problem but a situation. This is why she has chosen to stay in a world of clouds, fog, and darkness. Vicky needs to know from us that where there is light, there is life. Light illuminates the source of truth for positive imagination. Keep in mind that goodness is ever-present for all of those that desire to walk away from shadows,” Lucia concluded.
Laura’s face brightened. “Thank you, Lucia. Your words are ever so poetic, but it is a tangible poetry that I get. Now it’s up to me.”
“I will do what I can, too,” Lucia offered.
“I know. But with Vicky so overwhelmed, let me try first, okay?” “Of course, but—”
“She and I are best friends,” Laura interrupted. “You gave me good tools. I’ll get her out of there,” she said firmly. “And what kind of cookie dough is this?”
“Store brand. Oatmeal raisin.”
“I’ll pick some up to bake before I see Vicky. I think they may help the understanding.” With that, Laura left on her mission.