Right after my last posting, I checked my e-mail, then spent the next couple of hours driving in the dark trying to escape the panic that came over me.
The e-mail I use as a contact point in my writing contained several messages. One I nearly deleted as suspected spam -- it had a subject line of "Here is a voice from the past!" I expected it to be a message promoting some medicinal aid for my love life or some such. If only it had.
The name used by the writer was unknown to me, but the content of the message was hauntingly, frighteningly familiar. It also frightened me to read that this person had made the effort to become very familiar with my writing over time. Clearly, she's read my work very closely over an extended time, noticing details that would go unnoticed by a casual reader.
Perhaps the scariest thing to read was criticisms of the people I've written about, from name calling ("snooty high-society types") to attacks on one family's breakfast bar ("For goodness sake, EAT AT A TABLE!!")
By this point, I could scarcely catch my breath. Then came a series of personal questions about my title, whether I keep in touch with former co-workers, where I live, etc. The hair on the back of my neck was standing straight out now. I finally paged down to the end of the message to see if someone had signed a real name to this curious and terrifying letter, and I had my answer. It sounded so familiar because it was written by someone I worked with more than a dozen years ago. She had been fired, for good reason. I won't go into further details about that, but will say that I always felt she blamed me. I had nothing to do with it. It was management's response to her actions, which were in direct defiance to a supervisor's directive.
I went back to read the rest of the letter. I was struck by a paragraph where she explained she had taken on a spiritual exercise this Lent of building bridges, mending fences and making contact with those she knew in the past. She caught me up on parts of the years since we last were in contact. Ten years ago, she was injured in the Murrah Building bombing. After that experience, she attended theology school and has found within herself a servant's heart for the dispossessed -- the homeless, mentally ill and addicted. This is a tremendous change from the person I knew for so many years.
Despite the fear which filled my heart, I am so interested in learning more about this new aspect. Certainly I would be open to helping with her spiritual exercise. I think a healing conversation may be appropriate, as there's been a dark veil hanging there for far too long.
I have to say, the contact has left me very unsettled. I am struggling to see if fear or hope wins out. I won't respond immediately until I have more clarity in my own heart.