the cave

entrance to a caveI find I am still standing at the mouth of the cave. I tell myself I will go in; I will explore its depths. But then I see a shiny stone or a bit of grass or a tiny flower and I let myself be distracted. And here I am, still dawdling at the entrance.

Then the sky darkens and it begins to rain – a blowing rain that drives me into the cave. I step, at last, within the shadows and shake my arms and brush the wet from my hair. And sigh. With one last glance to the world outside, I turn to face the cavern that opens behind me.

I reach out my left hand to touch the cold stone wall beside me and use its surface as a guide to move a bit deeper into the cave. I move slowly, giving my eyes time to adjust; giving my heart a moment to still its racing.

I feel sure that there is something within the cave that waits for me – but I am not so sure I really want to find it. I am old enough to know that any encounter changes me. I have floundered enough to know that I am not always up to the adventure.

Yet, here I am. My hand plays along the wall. I press my lips into a hard, tight line and take the next step, mumbling a bit of a prayer within my heart.

‘Help me, help me,’ I mutter. It’s about the best I can do, these days, when it comes to prayer. I hope it is enough.

So, having braced my heart a bit, I move on. As I go deeper into the cave, I imagine that I will lose the ability to see. But my eyes do adjust and I find a small luminescence – some tiny bits of a lichen that seem to hold a light of their own, dotted along the path before me. They lead me deeper and deeper in.

I can barely see the step before me, but when I take it, the next one becomes clear. One step at a time; one small breath of hope; one by one, I move along.

After a bit, I begin to wonder, am I actually going somewhere? Is it somewhere I should go – or am I just walking in circles or wandering into trouble? What made me think the venture into this cave was right?

Ah, my mind is so very good at second-guessing. It’s almost as good as finding distractions to keep me from moving forward.

Trust is harder. But somehow I begin to realize that that it’s not the path that I must trust. It’s not even the sense of call or the tiny lights along the way.

It is the promise of companionship. I am not alone in this cave; nor was I alone at its mouth. Life is always in motion. There is no standing still.

But there is a difference between moving forward and just moving. And ‘forward’ is always toward deeper relationship.

When my desire is toward you, and I take a step (could it be any step, in any direction?) you are there. It is the direction of my heart, rather than the direction of my feet, that marks my progress.

I think I can see you smile. I reach out my right hand for yours and feel its warmth. I drop my other hand from the wall of the cave and trust your warmth to lead me. We walk the path of tiny lights together.

As we round a corner, we come into a space where the cave opens up from above in a cascade of light. I step into that flood of light. I have to close my eyes against its brilliance, but I lift my face and let it bathe me. I let it fall around my form. We both smile. We are both grateful for this small moment of connection.

I am at home. It is, as it has always been, within your embrace. You are my home, my path, my destination.

Thank you.

Amen.

[image modified from photo by Elroy Serrao per cc 2.0]

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