Here I stand.
At the beginning of another journey.
The road stretches ahead of me, seemingly endless. There is no sign of life or activity and the horizon looks uninviting.
I look back.
The tunnel through which I traversed gapes open, and the slight wind that blows causes baby whirlwinds in the wilderness sand, creating a moaning sound. It reminds me of the deep moans the soul emits when the pain it suffers is more than can be expressed in words. It is reminiscent of my own pain. My soul recognizes the sorrowful moan and feels the tunnel pulling it backwards into itself.
I peer into the tunnel curious to see if I can make out the opening on the other side, but the darkness is too thick and the end is too far. I cannot see a thing. I close my eyes as I remember those dark days when I could not see either opening of the tunnel; groping in the darkness and stumbling on rocks and debris that I could not see. I hear the soft sobs of my breaking heart as my feet hit against the rocks, drawing blood and chipping away at my will to continue. I remember sitting on the damp floor of the tunnel trying to picture
in my mind’s eye, the blue sky, chirping birds and what it felt like to have the sun kiss my skin. I could remember the words and what they meant – it was so hard to visualize. Sometimes when the pain almost seemed to engulf me I would cry out and the echoing sound of my screams shrieked back, mocking me as if to
show me how completely alone I was and so utterly deserted.
But I remember feeling a hand hold my own grubby one, lifting me up from my seat of defeat. I remember arms holding me as I cried myself to sleep – wrapping me in warmth and comforting me. I remember a cool drink being lifted to my lips, giving me strength to walk again. A soft voice that spoke courage to my heart,
gently prodding helping me seek truth, promising never to let me go, reminding me I am not alone, protecting me from the obstacles I did not see and watching over me as I slept in the dark.
I open my eyes. Holdingmy hand in front of my face to shield the sun from my eyes I look at the road again. My clothes and face are covered with the dirt that encrusted the inside of the tunnel. My toes show through my shoes in the places where the leather is worn, and the soles flip-flop around as I walk. There are no new clothes to change into for the journey on this highway. There is no shelter from the sun. The only promise I have is that it will take me far away from the tunnel.
I take one step. And find myself back where I was.
Relying on Someone other than myself to make this journey to the end of this road.
Gazing up at the sky from my window, I am transported outside where the wind blows
freely and Mother Nature diligently performs her duties. The clouds hide the
sun, in what seems like a malicious attempt to negate vegetations natural
ascent towards it. But the wind continues to blow and though its efforts seem
in vain, the sun sometimes peeks through the places where the cloud cover is
not continuous. For a brief moment the area around my window is lit with the
brilliant display of rays refracted through clouds, whose laughter at their
escape from the shield is almost audible. Dewdrops illuminated look like
diamonds carelessly strewn about on the grass and the translucent nature of the
leaves on the vine on my windowsill flaunt the complexity that its life is.
Photosynthesis is accelerated in that instant and every living thing takes a
deep breath and drenches it all in. Then just as swiftly as it came, poof,
it is gone.
The wind begins to pick up speed and all the small creatures burrow down to the safety of their
protective homes – places of refuge from the ravages that strong winds can
cause to their frail bodies. The clouds thicken and the first rumblings of the
Thunderstorm can be heard in the distance. Looking over the horizon I can see
that rainfall has already come to the neighboring hills, covering them like a
veil. As those dark clouds race towards me I am overwhelmed by the realization
that I nothing I could do would help me avoid this Storm. Even in the safe
haven of this strong building I feel threatened. Its unpredictable nature
throws my well-constructed world out of control into total disarray and the
thought of losing command triggers panic in the very depths of my soul.
In an electric flurry of anger, the clouds protest at one another causing the long evil
looking fingers of lightening to stretch towards the earth, after which they
rumble their displeasure back and forth. The first few heavy drops begin to
fall making loud spattering noises against my window pane – an introduction of
the storm, then with a force that only Mother Nature can truly generate, the
rainfall begins. The wind, furiously blowing, bends the long grass all the way
to the ground. The tall, proud trees resist the wind and dig deeper into the
ground holding firmly to their position – resolute and sure. Their
steadfastness is nearly masked by the frantic waves that their branches and
leaves exhibit, but the trunk holds firmly to those branches so that only those
that are diseased, or did not feed sufficiently are broken off by the strength
of the wind onto the ground, where they are pummeled into the soil by the now
heavily falling rain. Brilliant, awesome and terrifying all at the same time,
the Storm rages its fury to the Earth. Everything it yells at the Earth, she
listens to and everything it throws at her, she takes in. It cannot change her
constancy even though it can bruise her countenance.
An hour later, abated, the Storm diminishes its power considerably and the now gently falling
rain coaxes the Earthworm from his home into the dangers of the world above the
ground. The Storm, emptied of all its power, disperses into small whiffs of
cloud that quickly break up and spread revealing the Sun and the blue sky. The
birds begin to chirp happily at the prospect of lunch and all life that had
hidden from this storm steps outside once again. Flowers open up to welcome the
Sun’s rays and the bunnies and squirrels begin their playful prancing out in
the yard again.
The air is clean and crisp and the sun shines brightly on the wet world causing it to glisten. I
stand outside, raise my face towards the sunshine and breathe deeply, taking in
the scent of freshly rained on ground, feeling the sun soak into my skin, finally
rejoicing because the rain came.
My cross lay on the ground. It felt like I had been carrying it forever. I could see the places where my sweaty hands had made marks on the wood. The smoothness of some places on the wood bore witness to the fact that my body had had continuous contact with it over the years. The testimony it bore was not one of periodic and brief encounters.
There was a splinter in my hand. The fact that it was even there frustrated me. I was tired. It was hot. Sweat poured down from my face and neck and made little pools in my bra. Why did this come now? I couldn’t keep a good grip on the wood with this nasty pain in my palm. Why did it have to happen? I can’t continue and I don’t want to stay here. You would think that nineteen years would be sufficient time to grow calluses that would protect me. My skin was still so soft. Was my body always going to be this slow to get with the program?
I plonked myself by the side of the road, tears brimming in my eyes, blurring my vision. All will power gone, I turned my eyes to He who promised He would walk beside me. My tears welled over and mingled with the film of sweat that covered my face. Would He even see them? Would I have to sob aloud first before He saw the pain I was in and my abject sorrow?
During this time I had become a woman. I had changed. When I looked at things they just didn’t seem the same. What had happened to the innocence? The joy I had experienced every time we took a turn down the road and the excitement of what was to come, had been lost. The business of carrying this cross invoked a gripping weariness in my soul and I found myself paralyzed and emotionally unable to cope. This journey had turned to drudgery somewhere along the way, much further back than I can remember.
I can’t go on. I cannot do this. Take this cup of suffering away from me. You saw it coming, you didn’t warn me. Now here I am, defeated, tired, hot dirty and thirsty. I put down my cross and you didn’t even bat an eyelid. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? Or maybe it is I. You don’t like me like you used to. Or maybe you just don’t care. In any case my mind is made up. I am tired and this is where it ends.
Like a spoiled child, I pouted and folded my hands as my chest heaved in a frustrated anger. I let the sobs come our as wildly as my heart would allow and turned my face away from His.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see him move. He had not said a word. Kneeling in front of me, He took my hurting hand in His own. I could feel His heart asking me to lift my head, but my shame at my failure kept it bowed and I knew that I couldn’t take His love – truth is I didn’t want to. The pain started to ebb out of my hand as He gently caressed the hurting spot and very soon it was gone.
My hand didn’t hurt anymore, but my heart did. And when my sobs subsided He was still there, kneeling in front of me. I took my hand out of His and attempted to wipe the tears from my eyes. Sheepishly I looked up at Him and there I met his gaze.
In a moment all else around melted and was insignificant. I was transfixed by what I saw reflected in His eyes. The deep sorrow and pain, immense overwhelming love, never ending compassion, understanding, strength and fire. Like a fireball, in whose path I stood, all those powerful emotions came rushing toward me and hit me like a bolt of lightening. I was transported to a place far away from the dusty path to ripples of laughter and shouts of joy, moans of anguish and cries of despair. A place where light danced before my eyes and thunder and lightening roared. My eyes were opened and I saw and I knew.
With the hem of His garment, He wiped my face and smiled. I smiled back. Now strengthened, I stood up and walked to my cross. Hoisting it up on my back I set my feet on the Narrow Path again.
Tears unshed ready to explode in a place where you think you are safe . Be careful it might be called a show. Expressing the thoughts of your heart and just being you is called a show. Your wounds, hurts and imperfections are seen by others as festering, rotting sores that are in dire need of cleaning. The tears that would clean them – that would bring healing are not allowed to flow. Instead bandages are presented so they don’t have to watch “your show.” Will you ever be able to express true feeling? A show?I will tell you what I do. I hide, act, put on a face. This is the real show. Those who are looking, satisfied that I have been put in my proper place in their cramped little worlds, ecstatic that THEY discovered my niche. The mask I wear hides the turmoil on the inside… so I can be safe… so I can be free… and have peace… be me.Behind the thick velvet curtain the cacophony of the audience is muffled out. Somehow, somewhere you begin to hear the noise of the audience as they demand to watch the show they are directing so they can praise themselves and pat each other on the backs. Their screams reach a fevering pitch, they will not be held back. You put the mask on and give the signal. The curtain is raised and the real show begins.
Dazzling lights! Fancy speech! Give the audience what they want, what they believe they have paid for. Push your tears and sorrows aside, dance and sing! Sing till your throat is sore and your vocal cords break and bleed. Dance till your feet scream out in agony and the blisters burst and tear, reopening old wounds. Bid everyone adieu and ask them to come back!
The curtain falls back into place. Protecting you and your thoughts allowing you to think in peace. The silence is soothing, but don’t let down your guard too long. They will be back. Like bloodhounds they will hunt you down unless you satisfy their thirst for your lifeblood. They threaten the very thing they know you desire with all your heart every time you don’t dance or sing the tune they want to hear and watch.
And yet, I will be free. Not today, but someday, not too far away.