And it came to pass
The trail rolled upwards, hazy in the distance from the heat resonating from its black, tarred skin. The synthetic beauty of square, supple lawns and decorative gardens spattered with color was left behind, replaced with the golden azure of a tinder blanket, swaying in the light breath of the doldrums slowly approaching. The air felt like water from a temperate bath; wet and unrefreshing. An occasional jeep or scooter passed him, whispering behind, then angering, then shrinking over the horizon. Their paths so linear and finite, he thought. Although his pace was quick, his heart churning the blood inside him, he wasn’t in a hurry. Instead, he wished the clarity he felt at those moments of breathlessness could last beyond his return and cool down. Suddenly he was off the road and into the dirt. He began the ascent.
“Cold, cold water surrounds me now
and all I’ve got is your hand.”
after I had been in the land for many days
The path was steep. Weeds were on either side of the crooked ground of dirt and rocks. His breath was shallow and deliberate. His feet drove into the ground, and small explosions of dust floated into the air. Every step strained his muscles with slightly more discomfort, a touch more of pain. He watched the path move below him, like a small stream of brown gurgling around the rocks, and he skipped across them, keeping each step in check. Ahead the mountain rose higher, steeper. A giant without a shadow. Some had forged the path before him, but not many, and not recently. He glanced behind him.
“Love one’s son
allow me that
And I can’t let go of your hand”
the voice of the lord came unto me saying
He was a paradox of purpose. He didn’t know where he would end, and he didn’t know why he was there. The trail led on, but he didn’t know where. Above him was a looming presence, maybe the tide of clouds enveloping the valley, maybe his past. It drove him upwards. Finally, he climbed out of the large canal of stones the size of apple boxes and bony trees with arthritis in their branches. The wall of the mountain was a fortress of sinewy grass, cursed with small locusts. They flew around him, looking for a taste of the savory beads on his skin. He needed water, but couldn’t turn back. He slowed, and slowed again. Then once more. But still, upwards.
“Cold, cold water surrounds me now
and all i’ve got is your hand.
Can you hear me now?
Or am I lost?”
Every muscle screamed inside of him; an orchestra of pain. Every bend thought to be the summit, only to become the bottom of the path before him. He almost couldn’t hear the music in his ears anymore so great was the debate in his mind. Intellect, reason, hope, doubt, all argued with raised voices. He questioned his own journey, and wondered if what he felt looking back was regret. His shirt was soaked with sweat, his feet hot from the rhythm of his exertion. What was the tidal wave rising in him? He jogged on, knowing it was either a roar that would rip him apart, or a numbness that would lull him asleep.
“All i’ve got is your hand.
Lord can you hear me now?”
Arise, and get thee into the mountain.
Then he was there, not at the end, but at the apex of his ascent. He paused, consciously slowing his breath and heart. The music was faint in his ears.
“Cold, cold water surrounds me now.”
He looked out towards the city. Its uproar and chaos had been muted by his deliberate separation from it. The storm stared at him. It wasn’t angry; instead it seemed to flex its magnificence before the valley, only wanting to be acknowledged as powerful and mighty.
“And all I’ve got is your hand.”
He felt something accumulating deep within him. A nameless emotion. Familiar. The breeze crossed his face, her lips cool to the touch. He noticed finally that trailing down the mountain, at the exact spot he stood, was a large chain-linked fence. It separated the mountain in two. He glanced to his right and saw more path, with more climbs and dips. To his left, he could return, retracing what he had already seen. Unforged or familiar was the choice. He looked out again across the magnificence of the beauty before him. Somewhere in him, something reminded him that great rewards only came with heavy cost.
I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the lord.
“Lord, can you hear me now?”
It would only get more difficult, he knew. His shirt wouldn’t dry for a long time. His muscles wouldn’t rest. He felt the solitude around him, and the singleness of the experiences ahead.
“Lord can you hear me now?”
But maybe, maybe somewhere along his path, he would witness that moment of precise focus and beauty he had just witnessed.