to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”
It happens quickly. It is unexpected and unnoticeable, the act of drifting away. One day we are just fine and the next, it has already begun. The slow fade that carries us far away from our Source of Life.
We have seen it happen. The slow drift that sets us to sea like driftwood that is slowly carried away from the shore by the tide.
It is as if we are always standing on the edge of the water. We look forward and know that to walk forward into the land is good, but we look back at the water and see how the waves toss to and fro tempting us. It lures us back in. While we drift, the only action we must take is to not drown. It we can just stay afloat, we will survive.
But what is that? Ahead is a distant shore. Something once known and hardly remembered. A word begins to take shape from a memory, from a dream, or a dream within a dream. It surfaces. It draws up bringing a sweet fragrance with it.
A thing forgotten in all the time spent drifting.
The flickering light, that draws us, pulls us toward its flame.
The candle set on a table for any lucky soul to catch a glimmer.
The thing that pushes us toward the future.
In a moment, it all rushes back. The joy, the laughter, the peace. Like a sweet memory of times distant, the unreachable, the unthinkable has just resurfaced: hope.
That glimmer, that flicker of hope that rose like the flicker of a candle flame from the horizon begins to grow. The waters begin to turn from inky black to deep shades of blue and green. The flame continues to grow. The sky becomes a canvas of pink, orange, yellow, and purple flames. It rises higher and higher. We can see the pruned state of our skin. So saturated with water that it has begun to turn white. It rises higher. The waves are clear now. It rises higher. All we can see for miles and miles around us is water.
Until one moment.
The moment that we see the shore. Far off in the distance, almost too far to distinguish. But the internal flame has been lit. We begin to swim; using legs that have been idle, tossed by the current of the sea, for so long. We are weak, but the flame inside has been fanned by the sight of the shore, by the hope of setting foot on land. We kick and kick, but the waves push back against us, seemingly pushing us farther into the sea. We will not give up. We start to make progress. We find ways to dodge the oncoming waves. We get closer. The shore is clearer now. The faint outline of trees come into view. The flame is fanned higher. We start to breathe heavily. The waves become larger and stronger as we get closer to the shore, fighting to pull us back out to sea. We almost give up in a moment of doubt. The flame is given more oxygen. The day is bright now. The sea has turned into a shade of turquoise, the sky a perfect shade of blue to match. We draw closer to the shore. The salt of the water begins to dry out our mouths. The sand comes up from the bottom of the sea floor and creeps toward us as we draw closer to the shore. The waves are almost unbearable; they crash down with such force that we think we might drown. In that moment, we think that it would have been easier, better, to stay out at sea. Then, taken by surprise, a final wave tosses us on shore.
We are weak at first; having drifted for so long, our muscles are not strong enough to stand on their own. Our skin begins to dry out and become soft and full of color again. Suddenly, he appears as if taking form from the air. He whispers to me, “Child, take my hand. I will help you stand.” Unsure, we take his hand. We are surprised to find that it is strong and steady, easily helping our weary bodies of the sand floor of the shore. Again he whispers, “Come, eat and drink so that you may be well.” His voice is strong so that we are drawn to trust him, even if we do not know him; but also gentle as if caressing our faces by the very essence of the words. He walks us to a long table and at first, all that is set before us is a glass of milk. The milk is sweet; it is unlike anything we have every tasted before. From the milks nourishment, we begin to grow stronger. Soon, foods of various kinds are set before us. We eat, but it seems that no amount of food can satisfy. After a time, he says, “Come with me.” He leads us away from the table, but we know that we can come back whenever we should need. He speaks again, “Child, do you trust me?” We ponder this for a moment. He has never done anything to harm us. He has cared for us and nourished us. “Yes”, we reply, “we trust you.” He smiles and continues to walk on. Again he speaks, “Child, will you go on a journey with me? I do not promise that it will be easy, but I want you to come with me.” The way that he smiled has struck us deeply. We have not known him for long, but his smile revealed something that we have not seen before; something that is too deep, too strong to comprehend. A word comes to mind: love. We ponder the meaning of this. How could someone who we have barely known love us? We look up at his face. Yes, it was there. Love. Etched into every line of his face, every hair of his head, every pore of his being. We can see it now. Written on his thorn pierced brow and his nail torn hands: Love. We know how to answer him. “Yes, we will go with you.” And so we begin to walk. We don’t know where we are going, but we trust that he knows the path well. Sometimes we ask questions and he decides whether it is time to answer or not. We cannot know what the destination will be like, but he has told us that it will be like nothing we have ever seen.
Sometimes we still think about what it would be like if we had continued to drift into the blackness with pruned skin and a vast abyss of nothingness. Whenever we doubt where we are going in the future, we remember the blackness that we came from and the flicker of flame that drew us to this journey. We know that going back would only lead back to the nothingness. So, we continue to press on to Hope and hold onto Love. Whom then shall I fear?