Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted nothing more than to be seen, known, and loved. She dreamed of the day when someone, anyone, would look into her soul and say “I choose you.” But one day as she was dreaming, a sharp wind blew in by the name of Fear.
“But what if someone does see you?” asked Fear.
Suddenly, the girl felt very afraid.
“Say someone does see me,” thought the girl “but they don’t like what they see. If they knew what I have done, perhaps they could never love me.” For the girl had tried very hard to be good, but had made lots of mistakes. The girl tried to shake the Fear that now followed her, but she could no longer remember what had been so good about being seen. So the girl ran away and hid somewhere so far away that nobody could find her. She told herself that it was better to be by herself than to be rejected. She even tried to convince herself that she was not lonely or sad. But every now and then, the girl would begin to cry, soft and steady, because she had come to believe that she was alone because she was unlovable.
Now at the same time, there was a man who lived on a mountain. The man was very old, even ancient some said. He was also very wise, much wiser than any other man in the world. Many tried to climb the mountain to reach the Old Wise Man, but the road was steep and hard, too hard for anyone to climb. But rumors say that the Old Wise Man would come down to meet those who were seeking him, because the Old Wise Man was very good.
One day, the Old Wise Man was sitting on top of the mountain when he heard in the breeze the faint sound of a girl crying. He knew that she was very far away, so far that perhaps no one would find her. But the Old Wise Man was determined to find the crying girl. The next morning, before the sun had even begun to rise, the Old Wise Man set out from on top of the mountain to begin the long treacherous journey to find the girl.
He started down the mountain. The rocks were steep, sharp, slippery. But the Old Wise Man didn’t fall. With a sweaty brow and bloody scratches on his legs, the Old Wise Man reached the bottom of the mountain, the place where he had met so many seekers. He looked this way and that, but the girl was nowhere to be found. As he listened, he could still hear the cries in the wind. He followed the wind until it lead him to the edge of the forest.
Now the forest was very dark, full of monsters that threatened to eat anyone who entered. But the Old Wise Man was very brave, and he wanted so badly to find the girl, so he stepped into the darkness. He had been in the forest before, but it was a long time ago, and the forest was not as dark then. The further into the forest he went, the darker it became. Anyone else would have given up hope, but the Old Wise Man thought the girl was worth it, and he continued on.
After countless days of searching, the Old Wise Man saw a glimmer of light through the trees. He knew he had reached the end of the forest. When he at last had escaped the darkness, he stopped and listened for the crying girl once more. The sobs were louder than they had been before, so he knew she must be close. But the Old Wise Man was so tired from his journey. He had not slept in days. So he found a tree outside of a cave and laid down underneath it. The Old Wise Man slept soundly, knowing that his journey was nearly over and that he would soon find the girl.
When he awoke, he heard the crying girl once more. The sobs seemed to be coming from inside the cave. He ventured deep into the cave, so deep that he began to wonder if perhaps the cave never ended. But after a while he found a cleft with a girl curled up inside of it sobbing. He watched her for a moment, and his heart overflowed with compassion. He loved this girl so much. Even as he stood right next to her, she did not notice him. He leaned in close and kissed her cheek. At first she was startled. She was so certain that nobody would find her. She was overtaken with Fear and shrunk away from him. But even as she did so, she reached up and touched the place on her cheek that the Old Wise Man had kissed. What provoked this kindness and affection?
“Surely he’s confused.” she thought.”He must be looking for someone else.”
So she built up some confidence and said to the man, “Sir, who are you looking for?”
He smiled so big that all of his ancient wrinkles shifted across his face.
“I am looking for you, my dear.” He said.
The girl did not understand.
“But I was hiding.” she said. “I didn’t want to be found, you see. It is better for me to be alone.”
The Old Wise Man stepped closer with tears in his eyes. He slowly reached out his hand and brushed the hair from the girl’s tear stained face. As he gazed into her eyes, the girl felt as though she was being truly seen, like she had always wanted. And even though she had made mistakes, the Old Wise Man loved her deeply and unconditionally. The girl began to cry again, but this time instead of tears of sorrow, they were tears of joy. The Old Wise Man did not tell her to stop crying. He knew that these new tears, these tears of joy, were washing the Fear right out of her.
After a while, the tears subsided. The girl even began to smile a bit. The Old Wise Man took her hand and lead her to the edge of the cave. He showed her the tree where he had found so much peace the night before and invited her to rest there. As she rested, the Old Wise Man told her stories. His stories filled the girl’s imagination with color and life, things she had not experienced in a very long time. After a while, the Old Wise Man finished his stories.
“I’m going back to my mountain now.” He said. “Would you like to come with me?”
The girl started to feel Fear creeping back because the Old Wise Man had told her of the dark forest and the steep mountain and she knew they would have to go back that way again.
“But I am not brave or strong.” said the girl, looking down, away from the eyes of the Old Wise Man. “It would be better to go without me.”
The Old Wise Man waited for her to gaze into his face once more. What she saw was the kindest face one can imagine. Even more so, if you can even imagine that. He spoke with a rumble, kind but powerful.
“I am brave and strong enough for the both of us.” He said. “I choose you.”
And suddenly the girl wasn’t so afraid anymore because the Old Wise Man had said the three words that she had been waiting her whole life to hear. The forest didn’t sound so dark and the mountain didn’t sound so steep, because she knew that as long as she was with the Old Wise Man she would be safe.
So the girl and the Old Wise Man stood up from under the tree and went on their way. And as they walked hand in hand on their journey, the Old Wise Man gave the girl a new name: the Girl Who Was Seen.
The End (of the beginning).