THE HERMIT OF ANGELWOOD MOUNTAIN
by Katherine E. Rabenau
by Katherine E. Rabenau
Frank Osborne could not remember how long he had been living on Anglewood Mountain, but he knew it had been a long time. In his youth, Frank had not been very good with people. Shy and blunt, he had seemed remote and snide and people had not liked him. He hadn't liked himself either. Suffocating behind the glass wall of his loneliness, his efforts to reach out had landed like hammers on the toes of prospective acquaintances. Their hostility had cut through him like a sword.
Until, that is, he met and loved and lived with Amanda. Frank never knew why or how she had felt his pain and his gentleness. She had simply walked up to him one day as he sat alone in the park, taken his hand, looked directly into his eyes and said, "It's OK. I see you." He had cried -- not long or loud -- but his heart had fluttered and three large tears had escaped before he could stop them. Catching one of them on her finger, Amanda had put it to her lips and said, "Such tears quench the thirst of God," and had leaned over and kissed him lightly on the cheek. "Take me home, sweet prince, for I have drunk your heart and I am yours." And despite thinking that she must be crazy, he thought also that she was beautiful like an angel and that he had waited his whole life for someone to touch his tears. Her beauty was mythical. At first, certain that she was an illusion, he had been afraid to touch her, afraid she would dissolve if he dared to reach for her. But she had been no illusion. She had been so real. Although she had been dead now for many years, Frank could taste her mouth, feel the solid softness of her, the silky warmth of her skin as though he had held her that morning. He could still smell the spicy sweetness of her.
She had moved into his life and heart with the direct, natural flow of a river heading to sea. They had made sweet, tender, wild love and he savored the memory of it, but he savored more the memory of her presence and what it had done for him. She had moved so easily into his world that in some ways he hardly noticed it, yet to say only that she had changed his life was like saying that the sun was merely important to life on earth. Amanda was a mirror in which he had seen a new reflection of himself. She was unconditional in her love. There was nothing simpy or vapid in this; she did not overlook his flaws, his moods. She simply loved him anyway, without sacrificing her own integrity.
Frank still believed that God had sent him an angel to soothe his isolation and after a time had taken her away. At first his grief had been so deep he had thought he would die of it. He had been unable to believe that she was really gone, had felt like a lost child waiting for rescue. He had tried to hate God, had waited for bitterness, for the return of his former emptiness. But when time passed and it did not come, he realized that he had been changed forever. Amanda was part of him. It was not just that he had beautiful memories, it was that he was alive inside. She had shown him his soul by sharing her own.
And then he had known that he had to move to the mountain. It was not, as some thought, to escape or be alone. He had gone to the mountain to touch the stars and feel the heartbeat of the earth. He had gone to the mountain to make himself available to the people he knew would come. And they did. Somehow they found him. Some stayed for an hour, some for weeks. Sometimes he would converse with them, tell them about Amanda and his former life, about living on the mountain. Sometimes Wolf, his four-legged companion, would minister to them. But mostly, he would simply hold their hands and look into their eyes, and something in his shining, tender look would show them the beauty of their own souls. And when they cried, as they so often did, he would catch a single drop on his finger and whisper, "Such tears quench the thirst of God."