Hope stands in the hollow of the wood, holding out a hand to all of you, for each a different purpose, but for all the same reason.
“Will you trust me?”
The words are simple; a child can decipher them, yet they feel heavy and impossible; breath comes in shallow gasps, heart thumping with anxious unbelief. Our humanity, the best part of us, that side that connects, loves, dreams, wonders and joys, that side has gone silent, for now…but it has seemed like an eternity since we last lifted our eyes, and affirmed the words coming from Hope.
So, once again in the fading light of another day, we quietly consign our hearts, resting it out of fear that it may fall and break again. This kind of pain feels far too heavy to carry, too sharp to hold, too ugly to watch for too long, but it’s what Hope has conceived, and we have received…for now. How can Hope be so cruel, so insensitive to the deepest needs, desires and longings of a heart it breathed into life? ‘Hope,’ you might say, ‘this all feels too much like betrayal, too much like anger, that to even think of looking on you with affection again, betrays vows to protect what little belief is still in tact.’
Fading light on the path of the woods, Hope is that fading light, splashed in luminous dancing vapors in front of us, so we can make out the trail, and push on. Rumors tell of a cabin at wood’s end, a safe place, a place Hope built, into which hope brings darkness, then transforms it. But rumors like this can blow away in the gusts of suffering.
Hope holds out a hand, and beckons us to follow. Is there strength to trust again? Will love win, or will betrayal find it’s final triumph in a tepid détente, which knows no victory, nor defeat? Only a wistful smile, and a tired pretend that gets heavier by the day.
“Will you trust me?”
Those words again, but this time words just for me, for you. Hope speaks, and yet it sounds different now in the deeper woods, the darker moments, with the unsettling sounds of suffering inside and out. The words feel less abstract, more promising than before. Why when the darkness settles in so densely, do words from Hope feel actuated, and more promising? The journey is meant for companionship, but this lonely wooded path feels isolated. More slowly now, feet press down on the soft humus of the trail. The day has ended, I must stop, while the promise of woods end, and the roaring fireplace in the cabin fades in my belief.
Standing still now in the wood, with Hope an eternity away from my deepest need, I scream into the inky shadow land before me.
“Hope, I need to believe again.”
I weep now, as I’ve done in so many failed attempts. Night suffocates me, and I wonder if anyone alive has ever felt so lost…while being found…
For what seems like forever, nothing stirs. Then from somewhere unexplained and surprising, a memory…
Of a voice that hasn’t spoken for a long, long time.
“Light Keeper, Come.”
Suddenly, on the path before me, stands a luminous figure, brilliant light dancing upon the first vapors of mist forming in the forest. As if a thousand suns merged into a single beam, here before me, Light Keeper. Too dazzled, and blinded to see, I kneel on the path. Nothing but a blanket of light clings to me. Nothing but my heart can be heard, nothing but my weary faith, heavy in the dark woods.
“Follow me to The Cabin at Woods End.”
Gathering courage that had died a thousand deaths, I rise in gasping breaths, and follow the Light that shows my way. Into deeper woods, but light now on my feet, I meet the night in shattered disbelief. It matters not that suffering howls at me, and time stands still as eternity. Hope has beckoned, Light has lifted, so steps are not my own. Out of anguish, toil, trial and despair, the night air relentlessly harasses me, never lets me look up to see Hope, who is actually leading me home. I must find the cabin at woods end. I trudge in heaviness, walk toward a promise proved to hold true, that I will hope in hope again.
In time, a cabin comes into view, soft light inside, a silver cord of smoke rising from the chimney. I step upon the porch, the door already opened as I enter in.
“Will you trust me?”
Hope’s clarion voice meets me. I stop, but instead of pretending, or refusing or even trying to muster courage, I sink onto my knees and surrender.
“Rise little one, your heart is ready for what I have promised.”
There before me, a hearth warmed by fire, and a table set for two.
“You have set a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
‘Until you find light enough to laugh again, love will grow where night has pressed too hard. Joy will bloom where suffering has stolen it. Wonder will return, the last of the graces to find a home in hearts brought through the wooded path. You will dine here, in the soft warmth of the fire, listening to the Shepherd’s laughter, learning again, and again that He is to be trusted.’
Hope stood in the hollow of the wood…upon the path another stood, heaviness beyond words, or belief suffered their toil. Across the reaches of the forest, every waking life could hear Him, holding out a hand to ask…
”Will you trust me?”