Let's be honest. We've all spent our fair share of time crying in a stairwell.
One day, I didn't have the time or patience to wait for the elevator so I chose the stairs. Hurriedly, I opened the heavy door and was almost knocked over by the sound that echoed upwards to meet me. Sobs. Pure sobs of the heart that you couldn't make up if you tried. I didn't mean to intrude on her tears, so I didn't. I couldn't even remember what I was running toward two seconds ago anyway.
I entered the stairwell, heard the sobs a flight below and decided to wait. Quietly, I sat on the top concrete stair and listened to this sweet woman cry her eyes out. The cold floor felt welcoming to me, even though I didn't have a broken soul to attend. The lady's cries sounded like heartache wearing a mask of restraint. The hard metal railing held my head up as I listened for a few more minutes. Eventually her sobs became cries, her cries became tears, her tears became silent and her silence became peaceful. She stood up, went up the flight of stairs and left the stairwell somewhat composed. I did not. I was grateful she didn't see me. I stayed in the stairwell with my thoughts.
Someone once said "The history of mankind is a history of pain." I hope this isn't true, but it feels true somedays.
Moments ago, I had opened a door to go down some stairs and stumbled upon sacred ground, a space of "becoming". I'm not sure what she was "becoming", but I was "becoming" something softer by listening to her. Energetically, I was sending her any light I could muster..."Don't let this be your story." Let it be every bright, hopeful small miracle that comes after.
Ironically, to exit a stairwell, you have to choose a direction: up or down. Hers could be a story of pain; a complete chronicle of incomplete relationships or moments. My sweet stairwell stranger could also be the exceptionally strong kind of human. Someone who sees her life as a series of healing connected by a few tears.
It's merciful to assume that everyone is in their own "stairwell" sobbing their heartaches into oblivion. They may wear a smile and cry through the night.
Sitting with a stranger in a darkened stairway, I learned a little more about the human heart.
Maybe the history of mankind is a history of pain. Or maybe the history of mankind is a history of healing.
And thank you to the Woman in the Stairwell, who let me sit with her in her dark places for a while. I hope Light has found you wherever you are.