You have one. I have one.
No matter the time and distance, the moment your paths cross again, it’s as if time stood still.
That friend that wisely proclaims “You do what you gotta do”.
That friend that lovingly declares “I am here for you always”.
My friend patiently waits for me
Patiently, as I venture off on my own, heeding no warnings and veer off the beaten path determined, some may call it stubbornness, to go my way alone. In fact, with such volition, I am blinded to the fallen trees, deep muck, thistle, and overgrown vines that are greeting my first steps and promise to be ever faithful companions to my wandering.
In the haste to go my own way, I fail to recognize how ill-equipped I am, dressed only in shorts, flip flops, and a t-shirt, to plow through this murky, insect-ridden prickly path successfully. I carry with me nothing else but an unreasonable expectation of my abilities.
Off I go.
It isn’t long before the reality of my foolishness becomes glaringly apparent. I step carefully, trying to maintain my balance. My movements lack the confidence my mind once did. My steps are unsteady as I feel the twinge of pain, reminding me of my recklessness, as my ankle bone grazes the uneven ground.
I hobble on.
The weather worsens. The rain pelts my exposed skin as I squint to keep my focus on the path ahead. I long for a warm summer rain that invites my face upward, encouraging me to breathe deeply, allowing the rich earthy scent to penetrate my nostrils. Instead, I am saturated, shivering as the rain streams from the top of my water-soaked head, following the lines of my face to my chin and dripping incessantly onto my already drenched t-shirt.
The rain has made the already mucky trail more treacherous. The mud swallows up every step. I feel the cool, clammy sludge ooze between my toes. I hear the wet slurp of the suction releasing as I vigorously pick up one foot and plunk down the other.
Eventually, after pausing to remove thorns that have burrowed into my feet or curse the scratch that goes the length of my arm gifted to me by the untamed briers that cover my trail, I have somehow managed to catch the sight of the familiar path that I once abandoned. Through my wild swatting of insects mercilessly orbiting my head, I see my friend.
Waiting at the exact spot where I had changed course.
My heart leaps for joy at the sight. The tension in my body gives way to a feeling of absolute contentment, momentarily forgetting the throbbing in my ankle and stings from the scratches that cover my arms and legs, souvenirs from my self-inflicted calamity. My friend stands right in front of me, smiling, sliding out of the straps of an overstuffed day pack.
The pack holds everything needed to clean up, dry off, eliminate the vermin that found me irresistible, and disinfect my wounds before continuing on the defined trail that lays out before me. I feel the strength of my friend’s arm, bracing each unsteady step as I favor my still throbbing ankle.
Slowly, methodically, leaning on my tower of strength, I set off again, this time inviting solidarity. Through tears and complete and utter exhaustion, I whisper—a hushed tone of gratitude.
“Thank you, Jesus.”