I am in what appears to be a large room. One I have never been in before. There’s a large mirror in front of me that stretches as far as I can see in either direction. Running, I try to find its end. I can’t. After a while I sit to take a rest in front of the mirror, for the first time taking a deeper look into it. I see myself, as with every mirror, but something is different. Those aren’t my eyes. Same sweaty face, same clothes, but those eyes. Memories of all my sins burn in my chest with growing intensity the longer I look. It’s me in there, but it’s a me that I can never be. It’s me as if I were  perfect. Fear of inadequacy burst to life in my heart and rots into a swelling anger. I hate this mirror. I can’t breathe. With the guilt of what I’m not screaming in my face, I swing on the mirror with every ounce of my strength. Closing my eyes as my fist contacts the glassy surface, I hear the satisfying sound of shattering glass and swing again with my other hand. I send a flurry of punches at mirror, eyes closed, blinded by rage.

Seconds pass. Heaving, I step away from the mirror to examine my work. Shards scatter the ground, but looking up, I see the mirror is perfectly intact. Confused, I look at my reflection again. Great cracks stretch from my hands up to my arms, and pieces are missing from my body like a vase fallen from its place at the table. The missing pieces are the shards I earlier mistook for shards of mirror. It’s me. My broken pieces are scattered along the base of the mirror. Defeated, I slump with my back against the mirror facing the great expanse of darkness that fills the rest of room.

A crack reverberates through the emptiness as someone traverses the mine field of shards towards me. At my feet appears a man in a white robe, hand extended in an invitation to stand. As I take it, I open my mouth to ask who he is; he shakes his head before the words even leave my lips. Pointing, he beckons me to once again look into the mirror. I do. The same guilt and anger swell in my chest. Glancing to my side where he stands, I see that he too is looking into the mirror. None of the shame that I feel shows on his face. For a second time, he motions for me to look at myself. Reluctantly, I do. Seconds pass and when the weight of the guilt is almost unbearable I turn back to him, tears in my eyes. He again points at the mirror, and in the same motion steps in front of my reflection, staring directly into my eyes. At first, I uncomfortably look down but after a moment I return my gaze to meet his. Compassion softens the man’s face and he steps forward to wrap me in a welcoming embrace. Looking over the back of his shoulder, with eyes full of tears, I see myself. Once again, I see what I should be but there is more. Through the tears, I see myself as I could be, as I could be if I will hold on to this embrace.

After a moment the man steps away and cold fear once again tries to enter my chest, but the warmth of the embrace remains even after the contact is broken. He turns back towards the mirror and extends a single finger till it touches its glass twin. A rectangle of light extends downward in the shape of a door making the man nothing more than a dark silhouette and casting revolving shadows on my hands and face. The last I see of him is a waving hand before the sensation of falling jolts me awake. The air in my bedroom has become chilly from the cold winters night, but there is a warmth in my chest that sends me quickly back to sleep.