This is the way I have chosen.
The rest of them took another way. Just before I was about to join, I stayed behind because I heard another voice that stirred my heart and stilled my feet.
They had snickered when I tried to tell them.
The sun beat hard on my face as I stood and watched them walk away. The reality of a deep loneliness sunk in as they rounded a corner and the last of them disappeared. Tears began to flow. I stood and didn’t move; for how long, I don’t know. I only knew I had heard the voice. But there didn’t seem to be any other way to go.
Suddenly a breeze stirred the trees around me, feeling cool against the sweat and tears on my cheeks. I closed my eyes. The thought that something was giving life to the movement comforted me. Maybe I wasn’t alone.
A voice startled me out of my confused stupor. “They are going the wrong way.” A man was there, suddenly among me, motioning up the trail. I hadn’t heard him approach. My heart quickened as I looked him over, instinctively questioning my safety. I didn’t respond. “You were right to stay here,” he said again.
He swung the pack off his back and knelt down as he began digging through it. “Why don’t you rest over there for a bit? There’s shade.” He pointed to a little alcove in the trees.
I looked at the alcove and back at the man. He seemed friendly enough. He was fatherly, but not old. My body was tired. My jaw relaxed and I decided to trust him. I nestled down into the soft leaves, hesitant to put my guard down, but also thankful for the company. Just as he hadn’t seemed to be coming from anywhere, he didn’t seem to be going anywhere either. He continued to rustle through his pack.
‘What’s going to happen to them?” I meant to appear more confident, but my voice came out as a whisper.
“None of your concern,” he said. I sat in silence again as I curiously watched him pull out a large set of pruning shears and shrub clippers. He walked up and down the trail, seemingly inspecting it at all sides. At one point he stopped, shaded his eyes from the sun with his hand, and stared intently off into the distance. I followed his gaze to see what he was looking at, but couldn’t see anything. He began mumbling to himself. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars….and on the earth distress... confused by the roaring of the seas...Mmhmm, yes,” he nodded to himself.
This time I roused him out of his babbling stupor. I cleared my throat. “Excuse me, but, where am I supposed to go? It’s just, I heard this voice, and...”
“Yes. I know. Right here.” He pointed the end of his pruning shears toward a dense set of bushes and heavy overgrowth. “This is the way. Seems you just got a little off track. Confused.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Easy to miss.”
I looked where he pointed. There was no path.
“But there’s no path,” I said.
“Yes, it’s here. It’s just been overgrown. It must be cut down again.”
I got up, slightly annoyed at the combination of his blunt confidence and aloof personality. “How do you know?” I asked, as I walked over to him and picked up the smallest of the garden shears. I began clipping away at the branches. I was ready to move on.
“No, no. I’ll do it. You should get rest. You will need strength.” He took the little shears from my hand and tossed them back on the ground.
“First, I’ll make your camp.” He removed the rest of the items from his pack. Among them, a tent. He took his time putting it together. When it was done, he stepped back, admired his work, nodding to himself before he began collecting small branches for a fire. Again, he took his time. When it was finished and the flame held strong, he stepped back and admired his work. He gazed into the flames.
Something broke his concentration. “Alright! then, I’ll just…” He picked up the largest set of pruning shears and began clipping away at the branches and vines, making a pile of greens and sticks before he would collect them and toss them off to the side, out of the way. He worked until nightfall, gaining distance deeper into the dense woods. In the morning he packed up the camp and we followed the trail he made until we reached
We trekked like that for days. I began to lose count. Every day he forged the trail before me, and I would follow down the path behind. During the day I would wander off, or I would sit nearby and watch him work, studying the careful craftsmanship in his fluid movements. He worked as if he had done this before...
Every night he would make camp, and then go off by himself, standing still and gazing off into the distance like he had that first day. On the third night, I noticed his gaze always seemed to be following a pattern of stars in the unpolluted sky.
Sometimes, as we walked together down the freshly paved trail, both lost in silent thought, he would suddenly utter something out loud, almost as if he could read my mind.
How long will it be like this? I thought.
“It’ll get easier,” he said.
Will it always feel so lonely? I wondered.
“There will be others. There are others,” he affirmed.
One day, as the man continued his work, clipping away at the branches and vines, he stopped abruptly and made a noise that sounded like an inhale of shock mixed with a giggle. It sounded like the delight of a little boy. “Aha!” he exclaimed. “It took a little longer than I’d anticipated, but...It’s here.”
“What’s here…?” My voice trailed off as I suddenly saw what he saw. There was nothing more to cut down. We had tumbled out onto a wide, flat trail. It appeared our rustic trail had intersected with another.
“But what is this? Where are we?” I said.
“Your path has now met with someone else’s.”
Just then, something whizzed past us in a blur of excitement. “He’s here! Oh, hi! How are you? Who are you? Come quick! He’s here!” It was a little boy, itching with energy and excitement. The boy hurriedly dashed up the wide easy trail before us.
“Who was that? Who’s here?” I asked the man.
“Your paths have intertwined. He’s here to take you the rest of the way. There are many more paths ahead. You will never be lost again, and you will never be alone again. From now on, every road you travel will take you to God. You will soon meet the good King.”
The boy came dashing back down the hill toward us and took my hand before I could wrap my heart around the man’s words. “Come!” The little boy squealed and pulled me along. I had no choice but to race up the hill with him. Excitement and enthusiasm radiated from him like sunbeams, and I could not help but laugh out loud. When was the last time I had done that? When did I last feel joy?
I looked back to see if the man was following, but I could not see him anywhere. I didn’t get to thank him. Tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes as I reflected on what he had done for me; on where I would still be if he hadn’t come.
We slowed down to a walk, and the little boy skipped and hummed as we continued hand in hand. “It’s okay.”, said the little boy, softly. “He knows! He knows your gratitude. That man knows your heart.”
We approached a clearing as the trail curved up ahead of us. Night was falling, and you could see nothing but the navy blue of an early evening sky. The last of the sun had just gone down. The first of the night stars flickered bright, directly ahead of us. The height of our altitude shocked me as we approached the edge.
“Don’t be afraid,” the little boy whispered. “You have crossed my path so that I could bring you here, and share with you this great news. It will fill you with the joy you’ve been longing for.”
From the look-out point above we could see a village. The glow of lights below us illuminated the side of the mountain. I smelled food and a great feast. I heard music and faint peels of laughter. Something stirred deep within my heart.
The little boy squeezed my hand. “That’s the town of David. Today a great King has been born. He is the Messiah.”
We stared and watched in silence, the little boy’s hand never letting go of mine. “I’ve come to bring you Home.”
Then we descended.
This is the way I have chosen.