I walked along the twisting path, a steep drop off on my right, a rocky wall on my left. Every step was measured and sure to avoid the rocks and shards of pottery from discarded vessels, which held all manner of useless stuff. I, too, some time back had found it necessary to shift my load and only carry necessary water, food, and the book of directions. The further I had walked the thin, grey road, the more unnecessary certain once vital stores had become.
Common though it was to come upon cast offs, I was a bit surprised when rounding a rather sharp bend, I saw by the side of the path a piece of red flesh, ripe and dripping, pulsing and heaving almost in time with my labored breaths. This was not the useless gems and mementos of the old life down the hill. This seemed alive and perhaps someone’s very necessary tool. Why it would have been discarded, I knew not. Or was it discarded? Perhaps there had been foul play; but that seemed unlikely given the close monitoring of Spirit guardian. . . . Though the way was rough and even treacherous in places. Maybe a dark ne’er-do-well had scaled the cliff side. Maybe the owner had fallen and ripped open a pained chest. But why leave flesh beating on its own in the dust and the falling time?
Though my load was about all I could handle on this steep part of the trek, I couldn’t help but think the owner of this ripe redness would be in peril without it. And I was starting to see the faintest shimmer of the bright citadel where I was headed. So I carefully wrapped it in waxed paper, stowed it in my sac, and continued on my way up the path.
The flesh pulsed in my sac. I had misgivings now and then, but I also sensed a strong presence of Spirit, who in His own strange way assured me I was doing well.
As I rounded a particularly sharp turn in the path, I came upon a young man seated on the edge of the path, legs dangling over the side, legs swinging in the emptiness of the dark space to the right of the path. His hands extended and contracted in rhythmic flights, sometimes arms raised to the sky, other times firmly held in self-embrace. His head was bowed and tears dropped in ones and twos and manys, landing like lead in his empty lap.
“Excuse me, brother. Do you have need?”
Without even glancing in my direction, he said soft and wet, “My needs are too great, the emptiness too big a hole to fill, and I have lost the will to travel on.”
I inched closer. And as I did, I could not help but notice the gaping fissure in his chest. Blood smeared and ragged. Forever-empty and dark. “You have great emptiness, and I think I can help you, brother.”
“It is too hard for me. I thought I could make this trip, but the longer I have walked, the harder and more rugged the path. There have been doubt-demons and storms and tormentors on top of the wall, pelting rocks. I have lost heart and cannot go on.”
“Oh, but I have found your heart. I found it by the side of the road, and I have it here.”
“Here? With you . . . here?”
“Yes. Perhaps I can help you put it back in its place.” With careful hands, I pulled out the pulsing flesh and gently placed it in the hole, but it would not stay fixed. Try as I might, it kept falling into the young man’s lap. “Brother, I am helpless to know how to give you back your heart. All the parts are here, but it won’t be attached.”
“There is too much sorrow. There is too much filth. There is too much loss. And I cannot go on without it.”
We both sat by the road in silence, thinking. The young man’s tears continued—steady fall. I’m not sure how much time went by, and I can’t say that I heard an audible voice; but I felt Spirit speak to me, weighted words, hot healing words in my mind, and in that moment I knew what I must do.
“Rise, brother. We will walk together. I will carry your lost heart here in my sac. I will hold your arm to give you strength, and together we will walk the last few hard places of path. Do you not see the shimmer of light up ahead? We do not have far to go, and I feel certain that together we will finish the journey.”
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. II Corinthians 4:16-18
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:10