PREVIOUS CHAPTER: REDEMPTION
How beautiful the dawn when it arrives after a most black night.
How beautiful that first glimmer, that moment when the coming brightness becomes apparent.
This morning sky above them, Abe walked further from the feast with Sam safely in his arms. The rising sun illuminated the valley they traveled revealing a path to the mountains away from the dark lands. Scattered across the valley were statues of people, men, women, young, old, hundreds of sodium sculptures in all sorts of frozen motion.
“Abe”, a tired Sam called. “Who put all these statues here?”
“Who are they?”
“They themselves did.”
“How did they do that? How did they move?”
“They were once alive.” Abe said with hint of sadness. “Once alive like you, and also fleeing the feast. But as they moved away their hearts longed to return and so they turned. Here now they stand, held in place by indecision, stuck with the knowledge of the light and the contrary desire for the darkness of the feast.”
Sam felt herself shiver. The pain of the feast was much to fresh for her to want to ever go back. “Why would anyone want to go back?” she asked.
“People forget. Then they imagine. Then they turn. Then turn back, then turn again, then turn. It is their own lack of commitment to either direction that freezes them.” Abe answered.
“Can’t we help them?”
“We help them by staying resolute. But in the end they must help themselves. All it takes is one final choice.”
Sam found herself in deep thought. Her wounds stung and her body ached, but her thoughts preoccupied her.
“Please don’t let go of me.” she asked Abe. “I’m so weary.”
She felt his arms bring her closer to his chest.
Tears started to fall down Sam’s face. “I’ve been a fool, Abe. I’ve been such a fool.”
“My dear, there’s no more need for that. There’s no need for condemnation. I’m here with you.” Abe comfortingly told her.
“Why did you take so long, Abe?” Sam cried to him. “Why did you take so long to come back?”
Abe listened to her kindly despite her questioning.
“Why did you leave us? Where did you go?” Sam poured on still in trauma. Still overwhelmed Sam’s questions came like a cross-examination. Question after question flew through her mind and escaped in her words.
Abe steadfastly continued his pace, still gently cradling Sam.
“Why Abe?” Sam cried. “Why? Where were you?”
“Do you really want me to explain?”
“Yes!” Sam said.
Then Abe gently spoke, “My dear Sam, You ask me where I was, and I feel your slight resentment of my absence. But I was there and I never left. I never truly left. I was with you and David, in my words and instructions. When we remember someone, that someone never really leaves. I told you to stay together and to stay on the path, and I told you to remember my words. I was telling you to keep me present in your journey, that is what remembering means – to be present once more – even as I went to prepare your way. I was with David, I allowed him into your life, to invite you on this journey. Yet you ignored him too.
You did not remember. You forgot. Forgetting is the natural result of being preoccupied with other things. You forgot my voice and listened to other voices. The voice of your hunger, the voice of your fear, the voice of your anger, the voice of the fox. You were the one who abandoned my memory and strayed from the promise. You didn’t understand that even in my absence I was remembering you.
And in the feast, where I found you miles away from the narrow path, I was there. I was in the hungry child asking for food. I was in the pregnant girl calling for your attention. I was calling to you in the dying old couple, the couple you saw before you chose yourself above all. You could not hear me, much less recognize, because your heart had chosen best of the feast. In the euphoria of the feast, in your desire to be loved you ignored my call to go beyond yourself and your honey’s validation. You ignored my call and chose “I”.
The whole time I never left you. But to journey is to choose daily a step, and to journey with someone is to choose to walk with that someone in-step if not beside them then in mind. Where our journey leads us is determined by the steps we take, and the quality of our journey by those we choose to walk in-step with. Who we find in our journey, those who leave and stay, is the result of the choices we make.”
Sam was crying even harder now. “These explanations are most painful to hear, most painful to understand. But I know in my heart they are true. Thank you for saving me. I know not why you thought it worth your time to rescue me, but thank you.”
Her meekness touched Abe’s heart, and he explained, “In that instance of your humiliation, when in your brokenness you called for forgiveness, you, once more, with those words, invited me on your journey, and gave me permission to break the power of the feast – a power I have broken for all, though many, like you, still choose its shadow.
Sam’s crying stung the the wounds of her face but she did not notice. The brokenness of her heart was much much heavier.
“Am I hopeless, Abe?”
“No one who lives is hopeless, Sam.”
“That’s good to know. What should I do now? I feel like I’m dying.”
“Just rest.” Abe told her lovingly as he cradled her. “Just rest.”
Sam pressed herself deeper into Abe’s embrace. Her painful wounds ached but she was shortly in a very deep sleep.
A drop of water on Sam’s cheek woke her and she opened her eyes to a rainbow. She stayed lying there still not knowing what was happening. The darkness of the feast had so overwhelmed her that the bright colors amazed her eyes. Then the scent of roses and jasmine wafted under her nose. Still not knowing what was transpiring, Sam sat up quickly and looked around. What she found amazed her, a lush garden of plants and flowers of infinite colors with streams of flowing rivers of honey. Everything the honey touched turned into patch of beautiful flowers. She felt her body, she was fully clothed in white, and no wound was left. She held her face in her hands and it was whole.
“Abe?” she called out.
“I’m here Sam.”
“Where are we? What happened?”
“We happened.” he smiled at her.
She smiled back.
“I wish David could see this. This is amazing.” then it hit her and she woke up still lying in the arms of Abe. It was all a dream. “David! Abe, we forgot about David! He didn’t have food when I left him. He didn’t have much of anything left. We need to find him.”
How precious the turned heart that no longer places the self above all, that even in her happiness Sam remembered the unfortunate.
“He’s fine. In fact, he’s on his way here.” Abe told her.
A little fear came over Sam. “I don’t want him to see me this way. I’m so ashamed.”
“Do you want to see him?” Abe asked.
“I do…” Sam answered.
“Then you must see him as you are.”
“He’s going to hate me. I’m sure he hates me already. And he’ll find me so ugly and stupid. I can’t let him see me Abe. Not like this.”
“Sam…” Abe spoke to her kindly. “David loves you. Stop trying. He loves you.”
“But I have nothing to give him. I have nothing to show.” she said with her head bowed and tearing eyes.
“Sam, there are many kinds of love, but only one kind that is true, the love I speak of has no criteria, but David loves you because you’re you. All your life you’ve wanted to be loved, for your face, for your honey, for what you can offer. But that is temporary. Faces age, honey rots, and then what?”
Sam could hear David’s voice telling her,“What happens if you ever run out of honey? What will people respect about you?”
“But he loves you.”Abe caught her attention once more. “He may not like honey but he definitely likes you.”
Sam smiled. “Why wasn’t David in my dream?”
Abe smiled back sadly, “Because he’s no longer there.”
Sam nodded. “I understand.” she said as tears streamed down her face. “There’s no undoing some things is there?”
“No. It’s a world of choices, Sam. But every choice, even wrong choices can be redeemed even if they cannot be undone.”
“Will David be alright?” Sam asked.
“He’s going to change this land.” Abe told her.
Sam leaned back on Abe, closed her eyes, smiled. “That thought makes me very happy. I know now that I love him too.”
Abe, though having seen this a million times, a love discovered too late, hid the infinite pain it caused him.
“Rest now, Sam. Rest.”
NEXT CHAPTER: I PROMISE TO REMEMBER