Lily’s Love Letter #1 – The Tunnel of Transformation

Lily's Love Letter
Look at the lilies and how they grow…Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
Luke 12:27

‘Lily, such a beautiful flower.” Gino declared while staring intently at Lily’s face. Her skin possessed a youthful but mature glow that matched her aura. The squint of her eyes when she smiled felt like the comfort of diving into a plush white cashmere pillow bed that invites a soul and body satisfying rest after a 16hr work day. A safe haven where soul secrets could be confessed, find solace, and freedom. Lily’s eyes told stories. 

“So I’ve heard”, Lily replied. 

“Plenty of times actually”, Lily said to herself. Unimpressed by Gino’s laughable attempt to build a connection with her she was ready for this Hinge date to be over. Lily hated anything superficial and it was always only a matter of time before men would compare her to the lily flower in an attempt to woo her. She wanted more. She wanted depth but it seemed to elude her.

Lily slouched down in her restaurant chair. Her jet black knotless box braids parted in pyramid triangles draped over her gold plisse v-neck blouse and landed on her thighs cloaked in caramel brown leather pants that matched her chestnut skin tone. The sun was setting and shone a rust orange hue over their table. Her clear glass of water converted into  light orange koolaid. Completely tuned out to Gino and his lackluster conversation, she peered out the window at Angel of Harlem and watched the Uber drivers sit annoyed in bumper to bumper traffic on Frederick Douglass Boulevard. It was rush hour in Harlem and somehow inside she felt still. Almost numb.

Lily focused her eyes on the sunset. For most of her life sunsets were her favorite. There was something about it that signaled the unveiling of truth as the sky progresses into darkness. The soul comes out to play in its full form when undressed, naked… when unclothed with light. Her mother always told her that the nighttime was the “Devil’s Playground”. 

Lily’s plum-colored lips displayed a slight grin as she chucked to herself. Despite what her mother said, somehow Lily reveled in the night. She enjoyed watching the masks that people proudly showcase in the daylight, dissolve under the night sky as easily as cotton candy disappears in water. Especially of men. The joy of the depth of immorality that the night revealed at times made her feel guilty, un-Christianlike, unladylike.

But what if the night is the tunnel of transformation? Metamorphosing the unmentionables into the palatable with the birth of a new form. Cleansing the dirt and finally freeing the shadows of the soul in preparation to reach the light. And feel lighter. Closer to God. Almost like the confessional booths at Catholic churches. The soul needs freedom. But freedom is seldom found within church doors. Instead, it's dug deeper into a pit of shame as condemnation greets you in the pews with a “Take off your earrings” and a tug on your skirt to match. 

Does everyone make it out of the tunnel of transformation? Lily thought. Did Marcus?

“Here’s your pecan-crusted salmon with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. And of course, your Rum Punch with a little extra razzle dazzle.” The waitress winked at Lily and placed her food in front of her. “As for you sir, your braised BBQ beef short ribs will be out in less than 30 seconds.” 

As Gino ate, Lily took him in. His muscles were obvious through his black v-neck shirt as the mounds of strength looked like rolling hills. His skin the color of light caramel with a defined jaw line and a beautiful smile. He was a handsome Black man. He did seem at least 6 feet tall as he noted on his Hinge profile. Because Lord knows height-fishing is at an all-time high on dating apps these days. He seemed respectable, a gentleman. Husband-material maybe? He did say he believed in God. Lily didn’t ask if he was Seventh-Day Adventist. She barely knew if she was these days. Gino was a Manager at a pharmaceutical company and he seemed simple enough. Easier than the complexity and taboo of Marcus.

“I wonder if Gino’s in his tunnel of transformation”, she thought. Lily somehow had a knack for attracting and falling for men when they were in the darkest most stagnant parts of the tunnel where debauchery is their God of life. Her infinite capacity of compassion leading her to become a casualty of their arrested development. She saw them, even when they couldn’t see themselves. The osmosis of two souls. Their vices became her own. Her individuality, virtues, and morals lost and merged with theirs polluting the soul she was meant to blossom in. Boundaries blurred. Lily’s petals contaminated. You couldn’t tell where Lily ended and they began. That’s how it was with Marcus. She still hadn’t been able to kick the cannabis habit he introduced her to. The habit a residue of his profound depression that became a core part of his existence… now used by Lily to escape the pain of the heartbreak he inflicted. At 30, you’d think she’d know better.

“Wait, so you actually vaccinate monkey’s at Novartis? You’re like Dr. Doolittle!”.

A piece of Gino’s short rib meat almost fell out of his mouth as he laughed and said, “Yeah I guess you could say that. We gotta try those COVID-19 vaccines out on someone else before us, right?”

“I mean, I guess. Would you take me to your lab? I wanna free those monkey’s.”

“Sure, I look forward to seeing you again.” Gino smiled at Lily enamored by his view of her and her slight interest in him. 

By the end of the night, Lily was pleased with how the date ended. Gino was alright. Maybe he wasn’t surface after all. The body hum of the Wray & Nephew from the 3 glasses of Rum Punch coupled with her salmon started to put her body to sleep. Or maybe it was the edible she took earlier. Either way, she was ready to go.

“Let me call you an Uber home.” Gino insisted. Not wanting him to know where she lived, Lily politely declined and thanked him for the evening. He walked her to the train station and she promised she’d text when she arrived safely home. 

Lily opened her Alex Isley playlist on her Apple Music, pressed shuffle, and found a comfortable in her corner seat on the 2 train back to Brooklyn. Body sleep but mind active, someone said to her, “Are you out of your tunnel of transformation? Or are you stuck?”

The bloom of the white lily flower is majestic. The striking untainted beauty its velvet white petals boast begs to be admired. Its blossom a sight to see, a sight to behold… an enchanting vision that can’t be missed. 

Its fragrant aroma lingers and seduces you into a state of peace and tranquility that compels you closer. Silky soft to the touch, its petals melt into the fingertips of all those who are in awe of its charm and dare to encounter it. The jagged tainted fingertips that tell stories of brokenness and pain, encounter its petals and find home. A home of healing, soul acceptance, and love. It’s flower essence laden with softening oil whose powerful healing attributes are fortified to soothe the hardened and cracked corners of the body, heart, and soul. 

Abandonment transformed into redemption.
Rejection transformed into acceptance.
Sin transformed into purity.
Chaos transformed into peace.

The white lily, created by the Creator to be an alchemist. For others and but most importantly,  itself. 

Welcome to Lily’s Love Letter. Handwritten by her Creator, Father, and First Love.

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About the Author
Tabitha Esther is a storyteller whose words provide healing. Inspired by her personal spiritual journey with God and the stories of the women she’s blessed to encounter, Tabitha’s writing aims to reflect the profound depth of God’s love for the Rahab’s, Tamar’s, Hagar’s, and Esthers of this generation. As a Public Health Research Scientist, “The Queen from Crown Heights” uses her words and social media platform to be a health advocate for her Caribbean American community in Brooklyn. She loves to “Shake the table… for good!” Connect with her @IamTabithaEsther (Instagram)