My topic this year is “Finding Hope in Unmet Expectations” because that’s what my book is about as well. On Fridays, I will write you a poem. Every day in October, I will write a short non-fiction essay or vignette for you. Each day has a different word prompt. I hope you enjoy.
Today’s word prompt is TELL.
Mala Mujer – a Texas tale
No one told me that the fuzzy, daisy-looking plant was a dangerous fire-breathing dragon waiting to blow fire onto my tiny hands. When I clutched it between my fingers, electricity radiated from the stem, shot through my palm, and threw me into a near convulsion.
Glass shards, lightning bolts, and dragon’s breath all pulsated in my tiny right hand. My left hand shot up – a soldier standing at attention – and tightened itself around my right wrist. I screeched for help. Grandma whirled around, slapped her tongue against the roof of her mouth like a tongue whip smacking out lashings.
“Muchachita!!! No toques eso!! Why did you touch that?”
“I wanted to give you a flower, grandma,” I barely made out the words through the sea-foam thick saliva pooled in my mouth from the waves of tears I couldn’t hold back.
“You can’t touch that. It’s Mala Mujer!”
My family called this enchanting plant a Mala Mujer – Bad Woman, which is native to Tamaulipas, México and is known in Texas as the Texas Bullnettle.
La Mala Mujer is nothing at all what I expected it would be because it didn’t look intimidating. I don’t remember how long it took for the pain to go away or what my grandma did to relieve the pain besides pour cold milk onto my hands and warm up a cup of mancanilla tea to soothe me to sleep.
It wasn’t the last encounter I had with Mala Mujer. Another time, I was running barefoot and grazed her stems in passing. I only knew she bit me because of the intense pain and large red patches of skin she left in her wake.
Mala Mujer reminds me of all the things which look attractive to my spirit but are not conducive to my spiritual growth. There are so many things I want to hold in the palm of my hands that would cause plenty of pain because I am unwilling to acknowledge them as instruments of destruction.
I immediately think of wealth. How incredible would it be to hold fame and fortune in our hands? God only knows why that is not the path set out for most of us. He knows fortune, if irresponsibly handled, would cause a great demise in our lives and in the lives of others.
We must learn to discern what belongs in our hands and what does not. Are we willing to blindly grab hold of what could potentially destroy us only because we were never told the consequences? God’s sacred mark is upon the earth and pulsates within each human life. Of all the beauty we hold dear, I pray we hold more than glitter and fame. I pray we hold more than an image of fancy fun.
I pray we tell each other good news and breathe hope into one another when we’re holding on to the wrong things.
As we walk through these 31 days together through short essays and vignettes, I hope you feel called to your own writing or your own act of (story)telling.
“Upon the palms of my hands I have written your name” (Isaiah 49:16, NIV).