Odyssey of the Rising
Every real life story – even yours, dear reader – involves a veil. It is a veil which hides a mystical, an unseen, dimension of life. And, in that invisible dimension, incredible things are constantly happening, which can, and often do, impact us in the most profound ways.
Whispered thoughts in unheard words occur there. Decision weigh precariously in ethereal balances where destinies are decided – for better or for worse. And, it all happens behind that veil, where our minds cannot comprehend the dynamics and our eyes cannot see players.
But, in fact, as you will see, there are, indeed, other players who are deeply involved in our every life experience. And, as it turn out, we are actually the puniest player of all.
So, this is how real life - even your life, my friend - really works. It is composed of the seen and the unseen; what we know, and what we know not. These two distinct threads, the visible and the invisible, are the “warp and weft” which weave life’s dramatic fabric. Thus, we can never accurately comprehend life's tapestry until we account for both of these dimensions. And, the story that I am about to relate does precisely that.
But, I can say this of myself. I have always been a simple man of no great reputation. And, I think I have always fully expected live and die in anonymity. Nevertheless, I now have this one wondrous thing to my credit: I have had the grandest of all adventures. And, this is how it unfolded.
For many of my younger years I had heard of a mystical path, The Path of the Rising, which was suppose to lead to great personal blessings. This was a pleasant enough tale which I more indulged than gave real credence to. I did occasionally wished it were true. And, on a few even more rare occasions, I did wished it were true for me. But, in those days, I was really, in the main, quite happy just to travel the more tangible, everyday roads of life with everyone else.
However, as my own course became more and more difficult, the rose tint on my youthful view started to fade. And, as it did so, life's promised treasures started to seem more like "a carrot on a stick" than something actually attainable. And the few acquisitions I was able to make turned out to be laced with many complex treacheries that I simply had not anticipated.
So, as these realizations began to build and solidify themselves in my mind, I began to elevate my gaze and search of some better something. At the time, I really didn't know what that something was. But, I was definitely become more and more desperate to find it. Whatever it was.
Eventually, under the increasing weight of this stress, the legend of The Path began to present itself to my mind in a different way. It seems desperation can open doors that arrogance would be loathe even to approach. And, I was becoming very desperate.
So, my interest in that mystical pathway, which before had seemed so much like a fairy tale, began to gain intensity. And the reality and the possibilities of The Path no longer seemed so much in question.
And eventually, I found myself actually pursuing information as to how to locate The Path. And over time, I did begin to assemble a few clues which I felt were trustworthy.
The first was this. I was told not to believe in The Myth Of The Magic Milestone. It was confirmed to me by many that I should walk the full length of the path and not stop at that, so called, magic milestone which lay at its very beginning.
As the story goes, it is said that there is a milestone at the beginning of The Path which is, indeed, magic. And, according to this legend, one must only scatch their initials on this magic milestone to discover a quick remedy for their despair.
But, I was warned that, in truth, there are no "magic milestones." I was told, and became later convinced by my own experience and logical processes, that real success and fulfillment lies only at the far end of The Path, not at the near end. So, I realized fairly early on that I must travel the entire length of The Path to experience its elevation and blessing in my life, not merely inscribe my name on the rock which marked its beginning. 100.1 [Section 100.]
I was also told that there was a unique glow associated with The Path. I did eventually come to see this faint light, and it is very unique. For one thing, and I cannot explain this, but it always remains ahead of a traveler, marking clearly the direction of travel, which was always, forward along the path. 101.0
I was further informed that The Path Of The Rising is a toll way. This idea was actually disputed by many. But I discovered that, indeed, this is correct.
As I traveled the main road watching for The Path, I saw many roads and trails marked with such names as "Free way." But when I did finally find The Path Of The Rising, sure enough, there was a Gatekeeper and a toll booth at it beginning, as well as at regular intervals along its route. So, I can now confirm that it is true. The Path is a toll road; and, I could not enter The Path without paying the toll that the Gatekeeper required - nor can any one else.
I suppose, from one point of view, the toll was not all that expensive. But, from another, it was, and is, quite expensive. But, whether you count it as costly or cheap, to enter and travel on The Path of the Rising involves a real cost.
And, the Gatekeeper requires the same toll of all who would enter - no exceptions. And each day the "progress toll" must also be paid as one travels along The Path. And, in fact, you can only ever pay for that one present day. So, every day the Gatekeeper comes again, requiring the daily toll in order for travelers to progress along The Path.
Further, He will not extend any credit. On any day that you fail to pay the daily toll, you can travel no further. And while the Gatekeeper will not expel you from The Path, neither will He allow you to proceed any further on The Path until you pay the requirement. 101.1
And then, I was also told that there is a tangle of small trails which radiate out from around the beginning of The Path. And, I was warned not to become entangled in any of those. And again, this information turned out to be precisely right. Near the beginning of The Path, when I finally did find it, were many small trails that led off in various directions. And sometimes they created real confusion as to the direction of The True Path. 101.2 [Section 101.]
Finally, I was told that I should look for two large crystal trees as the most distinctive features which marked The Path's beginning. I was informed that one would be living and one would be dead.
The Journey Begins
Early in my search for The Path of the Rising, I began to notice just how very many paths there actually were which joined into the main road and ran off in various directions. Most all of these paths looked promising. And, many were labeled with attractive names like "The Easy Way" and "The Care Free Road " and "The New And Better Way." And most of them did offer pleasant vistas and easy walking. And that was for good reason. It was because, in fact, none of these paths actually inclined upward. They were all paths which took travelers across the flat lands. So, they simply did not rise. Nevertheless, I saw many choose these easier paths.
And, it is true. The Path of the Rising can be very demanding. And certainly, not all who start The Path, finish it. Some eventually refuse to go on in the face of the difficulty. They simply stop, never to start again. And, while they may not actually leave The Path, neither do they ever experience the completion which The Path offers. And besides these, there are also those who do, indeed, leave The Path, entirely.
So, while the Path Of The Rising is open to all, yet it is a serious and demanding endeavor. And, only those who are willing to truly investment themselves in the journey will be able to complete its more demanding course. 102.0 [Section 102.]
Leaving The Main Road
In the years that I traveled the main road, especially the last year or so as I began to pay more attention, I encountered stories and discussions of The Path. Some described it in very positive terms. Others were very negative in their view of The Path. And some of what I heard was absolutely outlandish.
In point of fact, most of the talkers were only repeating what they had heard. Some, however, had walked The Path for a while; and then, for various reasons, they had chosen to return to the main road.
The only things I felt I knew for sure were the clues that I mentioned earlier. They came from long circulated verbal and written accounts, said to be passed back from those who were successful on The Path - accounts much like this one. But, even with these more substantial clues, The Path eluded me for a while. I just couldn’t seemed to find it. Until one day, a day when my desperation seemed absolutely overwhelming, I saw it.
Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, there it was, right in front of me. I knew instantly that this was The Path. So, that day, I left the main road, and I never looked back... 103.0 [Section 103.]
The Trail Head
And just as I had heard, at the very beginning of The Path, there they were, The Great Crystal Trees.
And they were, indeed, huge. They were the biggest trees I had ever seen. And, one was living, and one was very obviously very dead.
As I looked around, I saw the Gatekeeper standing near the beginning of The Path. He looked directly at me. It seemed He was looking right into my soul.
He asked if I was willing to pay the toll to travel The Path. I said, "yes," without hesitation. So, He
gestured for me to move forward onto The Path. He fell in step beside me; and, as we walked those first few steps, I noticed the arching glow far ahead over The Path, exactly as I had heard.
As we moved forward, The Gatekeeper began to speak to me of where we were going. He told me that I would have a Guide on The Path. He said that He would introduce me to the Guide. I felt very relieved at that thought.
And I felt very at ease in the presence of the Gatekeeper. Those first moments with Him were perfectly peaceful. I will never forget the wonder of that time. In His presence, I sensed a profound change to my perception of life.
A Very Personal Introduction
The Gatekeeper began immediately to speak to me of my Guide for The Path to prepare me for the meeting. The Gatekeeper prepares everyone, not only for the beauty and significance of the meeting, but for the shock of it, as well. It is, indeed, a magnificent and bewildering moment.
As He does for all travelers, The Gatekeeper introduced me to The Frail Guide, as He has come to be known, at the very beginning of The Path. When you meet the Frail Guide, it is instantly obvious that he has suffered much. And you can easily notice his scars.
And those scars quickly betray the agonies that He has suffered. But, even through all of this sorrow, His gentleness and deep love instantly touch all who meet Him. And, He is ever there, at the beginning, as the true and only Patriarch of The Path of the Rising.
And, He welcomes each pilgrim with the same gift. It is a loving embrace. And in that embrace, as is typical, something happened to me that I will never forget. I was instantly cleansed of the dark heaviness that had accumulated within my heart. Until the moment of that embrace, I was actually unaware of it. But, in that moment, I felt the weight of my filth simply fall away.
Instantly, it was replaced by a new, invigorating warmth flowing through me. I felt myself starting to believe in the possibilities of life again.
So, in that cleansing embrace, I found the gift of lightness. And, in that lightness, I found a renewed sense of joy for life itself.
And suddenly, a powerful appetite awakened within in me: I wanted to know. I wanted to know Him, this Frail Guide, personally. And, I wanted to know where I was going and what I was supposed to do. I don’t think I had ever before felt such an urgent need to discover what lay ahead.
And it was under that sense of urgency that the two great crystal trees, standing there at the very beginning of The Path, suddenly imposed themselves on the foreground of my consciousness...
The Two Great Trees
It was obvious that they were not ordinary trees. And, when I spoke of them to the Guide, He began to explain. And, as He did so, we made our way over to the living tree which stood on the right shoulder of The Path. He referred to it as The Life Tree and to the other as The Death Tree.
The trunk and limbs of both trees actually did appear to be crystal. But, that was about the extent of the similarities. The trees were starkly different in every other way.
The crystal of the living tree was sparkling clean, and beautiful, and so very clear and bright. The leafy canopy of this tree was lush, and bright green, and very full. In shape, the tree very much resembled what would have been the largest, healthiest Sycamore tree I have ever seen. But the obvious and very striking difference between this tree and an ordinary Sycamore was that you could see right through its trunk and limbs.
The Life Tree overhung The Path and gave a wonderful, refreshing shade to its beginning. And, it was obvious when we moved beneath it that many travelers had found rest here. The exposed parts of its great roots at the base of the trunk were actually worn down a bit in places by travelers who had leaned against and sat on them.
As the Frail Guide and I talked, I did the same. When I leaned back into a fork of two of those massive crystal roots and rested my arms on the top of them, it was a perfectly comfortable fit. It was as though this great tree was cradling me and I was embracing it. This was, indeed, a completely renewing moment in so many ways. 105.0 [Section105.]
The Death Tree, on the other hand, stood well off, on the left side of The Path, one could easily see that it was absolutely dead. Its great crystal limbs were twisted and gnarly; and, they had not the first tender leaf. And, unlike The Life Tree, the crystal itself was dingy and smudged. The tree looked as though it had been dead forever.
The ground around The Death Tree was also completely blighted. It seemed odd to see such a sight in the otherwise beautiful surroundings of The Path. When I asked the Frail Guide about it, He said , "It is, what it is: death in the midst of all of this life. But, you will move past it, and the tragedy of it, soon enough. The Path will take you quickly away from its ugliness."
But, before that actually happened, I saw something else. It was the most amazing thing of all. I noticed a life essence moving through both trees. In each case, this inner essence appeared in form like dense streams of very tiny, moving bubbles within the crystal. These streams were flowing throughout the crystal structure of both trees. In both cases, I could see the bubbles, as an effervescent like current, flowing from the great roots, exposed at ground level, up into every limb, even to the highest reaches of the trees.
I somewhat understood this phenomenon in The Life Tree. One would expect a life essence in a living tree. But, I was completely surprised to see it also in The Death Tree. So again, I turned with my question to the Frail Guide. He said, "In some sense, death is as animated as life. "
I must have looked even more puzzled, because I was. So, He went on to say, "Death, like life, seeks to perpetuate itself. And, like life, it has the means to do so. That is what you see moving within the tree. Death has an inner dynamic essence that constantly works to sustain and recreate death, to expand the existence of death in reality. So, there is a death dynamic, just as there is a life dynamic.
"Thus, what you see flowing through both The Life Tree and The Death Tree are the inner forces of renewal and self preservation. In both trees, those forces are constantly perpetuating new expressions of their respective essence in reality. From the living essence, springs new and living limbs on The Life Tree. And, from the death essence, springs more death as new but dead limbs on The Death Tree."
I stood there wanting to form another question. It was absolutely demanding to be asked. But, I could not figure out what it was.
After a moment, the Gatekeeper said, "The answer to your question is, 'curiosity.' Some are drawn to the dead tree by a misguided curiosity. Then, when they come too near The Death Tree, something deadly happens. Their perception of The Death Tree changes. The dead tree appears, to those who venture to close, to be the living tree.
Then, when the curious come near enough, The Death Tree pulls them in with an almost irresistible power. Eventually, they are simply absorbed into that death essence that you see within the tree. They become part of the death dynamic. And that’s how death perpetuates death. It feeds on misguided life.
I asked the Guide if I could not somehow go and cut down the dead tree and be done with it. He explained, "The tree that you can see is not really the problem. It is the essence within the tree that is the problem. Even if you managed to cut down that massive trunk, the dynamic force within its roots will only flow up and give rise to another tree.
"So, the essence within the tree is the real substance of it's existence, and thus, the real issue. And to destroy that requires a power vastly superior to your own."
So, I asked, "Well then, could you not do it?"
He smiled and said, "I already have."
Again, I must have looked puzzled, so he continued, "I have kept it from touching you. And, for now, that is sufficient. Later, I will take a more direct and permanent action. But, for now, I think it sufficient to simply keep you safe from its ravages, dear traveler."
I chose not to argue the point. 104.0 [Section 104.]
After our discussion of the great trees, the Frail Guide then began to walk me up The Path. We traveled for a few days. We talked at length. And, our conversations were profoundly meaningful to me. One can only describe this encounter with the Frail Guide as life changing. I began to see everything differently.
But after a time, one morning, we came to the brow of a hill at the edge of a great wilderness. Because of our high vantage point, I could see that this vast wilderness lay like a great depression in the earth. And I could see that The Path bisected it all the way to the far horizon.
I also noticed that there were many people milling around near the entrance to the wilderness. They seemed very preoccupied, and fretful, and sad. 106.0 [Section 106.]
As we stood in that place the Frail Guide turned to me and said, "This is the place. This is where we make the transfer."
My question must have been in my expression, because He answered it without hesitation. He said, "The Strong Guide is a little farther up The Path. He will take you from here."
He encouraged me to embrace The Path and pursue The Rising with all of my heart. He told me not to worry. He said He would see me again up the way, and that I would discover Him in a whole new way. 107.0 [Section 107.]
The Sister Winds
We rested and talked that night far into the night. He spoke to me of the strange winds that I would encounter in the wilderness. The Path Of The Rising has sometimes been called "The Trail Of Twins." The reason is because there are several significant "two’s" that help shape the day to day reality along The Path.
Among these dualities are The Sister Winds which blow simultaneously from two distinct directions along The Path. These are not opposing winds, but quartering winds that blow in approximately the same direction, but at a distinct angle to each other.
Both originate somewhere in the beginning regions of The Path, and blow constantly toward the upper end. So, the traveler who moves up The Path is actually helped by these winds as they push him or her forward.
The Frail Guide explained that this phenomenon is most noticeable in this wilderness region of The Path. He warned that, in this region, these winds can become very strong, exerting a really powerful force on the traveler. Yet, He was quick to point out that these Sister Winds are never really the traveler’s enemy. They always blow on his back, pushing him forward in his journey.
108.0 [Section 108.]
The next morning, when I awoke, the Frail Guide was already gone. So, with great sorrow and a great deal of apprehension, I started up The Path through the wilderness, looking for the Strong Guide...
Entering The Wilderness
As I entered The Wilderness, it became clear that the Frail Guide had not exaggerated about Th
e Sister Winds. They were very strong, often pushing me faster and farther than I really intended to go. At times it was a great struggle to keep my footing. And the blowing sand was often abrasive to my skin.
The Wilderness was an intimidating and hard place. It was such a contrast to the serenity that I had known with the Frail Guide. Always, this place seemed threatening.
The Super Reality
There are many unusual things along The Path Of The Rising, but few more unusual than the nature of its atmosphere. It is somehow, at least at times, what I would call - "reflective." That is, it reflects images into the visible reality from the invisible reality that surrounds us. So, sometimes, usually just for a short time, it will make things that are invisible in the normal reality, to be visible.
This is quite an experience. I had never seen anything like it. You are just going along, and suddenly there is this flash of super reality. It is just there. It is as though things from some other dimension suddenly become visible.
I call it a super reality because I came to realize that what I was seeing at those times constituted an enlarged view of reality. That is to say, they were not imagined or just briefly real. The things I saw were always real and present; but sometimes, they were just invisible. But, even when they were invisible, they were still a very material part of my reality.
These "reflections" were disconcerting at first, to say the least. However, I did discover many things from these brief encounters with my larger reality that I had no idea of before. For instance, I discovered that all human beings have a dual identity. One exists in the visible reality, and the other exists in the invisible reality. I know, because one surprising day, I actually saw the "invisible me" in the super reality of The Path Of The Rising... 109.0 [Section 109.]
Behold The Enemy - It Is I
As I said, one day I was just going along. Though I am not sure exactly how long I had been traveling, I know that I was some distance into my search for the Strong Guide. As I traveled, I noticed clouds beginning to gather. They were dark and ominous. The air was heavy.
Suddenly, there was a flash. Not a flash of light. It was more like something swishing past my face very quickly, a flicker of some kind. And then, there "I" stood in front of "me." It was "the other me." It was the me that exists in the invisible reality.
There was absolutely no doubt as to who I was seeing. Except for the disagreeable scowl on his face, he was my exact image.
I was confused, and a lot bewildered. I had not experienced this atmospheric reflection before; and, I had no idea what was happening. My first instinct was to run backwards. So, I did. I spent zero seconds analyzing the situation. I just turned and "burned" as hard as I could go. I ran for about a quarter of a mile.
Eventually, I was completely out of breath and exhausted. So, I stopped and checked behind me. But, when I turned, there he was about 10 feet away. He was just standing there, still scowling, but calm and completely relaxed.
I stared for a moment. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He was not even breathing hard. And, after a puzzled moment, I realized the futility of my flight effort.
After another instant of weighing my options, I decided the best one might be to simply speak to him and see what might happen. So, I gave him a profound, "Hello." To my amazement, he spoke back. Not with a greeting though, with a threat.
Very abruptly, and with intense harshness, he said, "I have no intention of cooperating with this nonsense journey that you have dragged us into. I was perfectly happy traveling the main road, and I want to go back."
I said with emphasis, "Excuse me?"
Continuing in the most abrasive voice, he said , "Look, you may be confused about what's going on here and what lies ahead, but I am not. I have no intention, whatsoever, of pursuing this Path Of The Rising with you. I don’t want to rise. I just want to do what I want to do. So, just forget this silliness. I like the base plane; and, it is there that I intend to stay."
I was indeed confused; but, his arrogant tone was grating. So, I said, "You do whatever you want to, Mister, but I’m going on."
He shot back in the most condescending voice, "You really don’t get it, do you?"
I could tell that He knew something that I didn’t, and it really galled me. So, I said, "Well, suppose you enlighten me," as sarcastically as I could.
He said, "You can see this Path Of The Rising, but you can’t walk it without me. And I’m telling you, this is as far as we go. I’m not going to continue through this wilderness. I’m not looking for any more guides. And, I’m not going to waste any more time looking for some mythical bliss at the end of the rainbow."
For a second, I just stood there, not quite believing what I was hearing. I must have looked incensed and dumbfounded at the same time (that was certainly how I felt). So he just continued.
He said, "I can tell you don’t really know what’s happening here. But that’s OK. All you really need to know is this. Between the two of us, I am, by far, the stronger. And, because of that, I am the real decision maker here. And, I’ve made a decision about this. We are not going anywhere. I’m happy on the low plane, and there is where we stay. So, get used to it."
At that point, my searing intellect recognized an opportunity to deal a death blow to all of his arguments. Instantly, I formed the statement that would humble him forever. I said, "You’re nuts."
At that point, his scowl disappeared for the first time. A devilish grin now crossed his face. He said, "You think so? Go ahead then, walk up the path."
Now, it was my turn to smile. I said not a word. I just started toward him, confident that I was going to go forward. I knew before I ever reached his position, however, that I would have to physically move him out of my way to continue up The Path.
So, I prepared myself. I picked up my pace and lowered a shoulder in his direction. He made no preparation of any kind to oppose the impact. I quickly discovered why. When I hit him, it was like running into an oak tree. My momentum had no effect on him. But, I winced in pain, and fell back in a disheveled heap. He laughed.
I was in agony, both physical and emotional. It is one thing to be defeated. But, it was doubly bad to be defeated by this guy's heartless arrogance.
After rubbing my throbbing shoulder for a moment, I stood again to my feet. A lot of the fight had gone out of me at the point of impact; but some determination to get it done was still there. So, I started again. I looked him in the eye, and I said with all resolve, "I’m going." Again, he just smiled that superior, knowing smile.
This time, I moved more slowly toward him. He still stood rock solid in the absolute middle of the path. As I came nose to nose with him, we stared (more like glared) for a moment at each other. Then, I stepped aside to go around him and continue.
Without warning, he shoved me - hard. I went sprawling off to the side of the path. But, this time I didn’t stay down. I sprang to my feet and broke into a hard run down the path as fast as I could go.
But again, I became exhausted with the exertion, this time even sooner than before. I crumpled to the ground to catch my breath. When I looked up, there he was again. He was in front of me, grinning confidently. And again, he was not the least bit winded. He said, "I can do this as long as we need to."
I smiled a pretentious smile back at him. I said, "Well, if that’s what it takes" And so, we continued the contest all the rest of that day. I was able to move down the Path, but not far. And, I was off The Path more than I was on it. And, I was absolutely exhausted by the process.
He, on the other hand, seemed unaffected by the exertion. By the end of the day, I knew that one thing he had said was absolutely true. He was, by far, the stronger of the two of us.
That night, I remembered the encouragement of the Frail Guide, and it made me want to experience The Rising with all my heart. I knew by now that this was the true path of hope and fulfillment. And I was committed to walking it. But now, it seemed almost impossible that I actually could. Sleep did not come easy that night, knowing that I had no choice but to go at it again the next day.
The next morning, I dragged myself up and started in again. I struggled with my evil counterpart through out the day, trying to make progress. But, in fact, on this day, after all the posturing and pushing, when I took stock of my progress at the end of the day, I had actually lost ground.
And so it went, day after long day, for a long time in this wilderness. Every morning, there he stood, ready to oppose my every effort. And, at the end of most every day, for all the struggle, still, I would be without substantial progress.
The nights of this time were filled with anguish, and the days were exhausting. Often, in frustration and agony of soul, I cried out for help, just hoping someone would hear me. Then finally, one glorious morning, someone did. I arose to see Him - not my adversary - my Hope. It was the Strong Guide. 110.0 [Section 110.]
It was the brightest morning I think I have ever seen. The light was behind Him; and, He was standing in the middle of The Path. It seemed as though He was the very source of all of the light in the Universe.
He stood with the stance of a bold warrior. His feet were far apart and His hands were clinched into fists, one resting on each hip, as though He were ready for anything. He was at once imposing, scary, and inspiring.
As I drew closer, I could see His face. Then, I froze. It was the face of the Frail Guide, but it was not now fragile. It was strong and confident and His eyes sparkled with excitement. I will never forget His first words to me, nor the perfect confidence in His reassuring voice. He said, "Come on, Pilgrim. We have a journey to take. You have done well to get this far. Now, I will take you the rest of the way."
Then, for apparently no reason, other than He felt like it, He yelled. "Whoo!" He shouted with a huge out loud excitement as he pointed His index finger straight at me. I jumped under the unexpected volume of His hoot. But, He never missed a beat. With the same loud voice echoing from His now glistening smile, He continued to thunder, "But know this, Pilgrim. I’ll do my part, but I won’t do yours! This journey is for you, not for me.
"So, you must learn the lessons of The Path. You must become wise to its ways. I will expect you to toughen to the journey and learn to survive. I expect you to be a different man at the end of this journey than you were at its beginning.
"I will lead, but you must follow with true faith. I will teach, but you must learn. I will provide, but you must make good use of what I give you. I will protect you, but not from the things you need to experience. Are we clear, Pilgrim?"
I was so stunned, for a second, that I just stood there. I felt like a young boy on the first day of school. The contrast between the first Guide and the second was so stark. It was only after a long, is-He-actually-talkin’-to-me kind of pause that I was able to say in a pitiful, little voice, "I understand."
Then, He did something that truly astounded me. He started by saying, "Come on then. Don’t just stand there. Come join me."
So, I took a few steps forward and stood next to Him. Then, He said, more quietly now, but still smiling broadly, "Come closer." So, I took one step sidewise toward Him.
Then, He said again, "Come closer." So, I took a baby step toward Him. This put me very much in His personal space and vice-versa.
Then He did the thing that astounded me. He took a step toward me. The next thing I know, we were literally mingled together, my image mixed with His. In that instant, we were somehow systemically connected. And, the connection remained, even when I stepped back in shock .
And certainly, I was startled at first. But, at exactly the same time, there came this instant and profound peace within me. I had never known such peace. It was as if a long argument had been completely settled, and all was right once again.
And, there was a renewing energy from this connection. I was empowered in a way that made me know that I was very different than I was just a moment before.
From that very moment, my defeat at the hands of my alter ego ended, as did that awful wilderness. On that day, for the first time, I saw the beautiful green meadows of The Path.
From that time, my evil twin was never again able to seriously threaten or withstand me on The Path as he had done before. I thought at first, the Strong Guide had somehow stripped him of his power. But, what I came to understand was that what my Guide had really done was increase mine. So, in Him, I became my evil twin’s equal, and then some.
I did, after this, sometimes encounter again the "other me" on The Path. It was usually in the more difficult places when I was in the throes of struggle. But, now these meetings were quite different. He was now much more a beggar than the "demander" he had been before.
Oh, he would still threaten me, or try to tempt me, or offer me some "deal" in an effort to gain my cooperation with his schemes or preferences. But, he could no longer intimidate me, for I was more than a match for him in the Strong Guide.
And, the longer I walked in the immersing presence of my powerful Guide, the less impact of any kind that these encounters had. And certainly, after the Strong Guide came on the scene, my evil twin was never again able to seriously threaten my intention to experience The Rising.
So, my Strong Guide became my daily confidence and my sufficiency from that first morning. I can truthfully say that I never again had much confidence in my own abilities concerning the journey. After that day, it was always and only in His mighty power. And the longer we walked together, the more it became so. 111.0 [Section 111.]
The Green Pastures Region
As I joined the Strong Guide each day, obviously, my existence changed dramatically. There was a renewed excitement for the journey. The Path came alive with His presence. And there was
great joy and confidence in having His constant companionship.
Before I found the Strong Guide, everything seemed so tentative. But after, there was a deep and unwavering sense that I belonged on The Path. Every day, there was not only the joy of the journey with the Strong Guide, but a constant teaching / learning process. And, there were exhilerating new challenges of every sort.
I also became aware that I was changing. And, it was good. It was very good. There were, indeed, challenges on The Path; but, I felt a new vibrancy, a constantly lessening insecurity, and a constantly enlarging curiosity for what the Strong Guide could teach me.
In fact, learning became the basic fabric of my day, and discovery was my driving force. It was truly as though I had never really known life until these days with Him on The Path. So, almost constantly, I was learning new and amazing things from the Strong Guide and from The Path, itself, as He interpreted it for me.
Not Without Him
We enjoyed many wonderful days in the Region of the Green Pastures. There were seemingly endless high meadows that called to me, and I explored them all. I lay in the lush grass and smelled countless varieties of beautiful flowers. These were good times. But, one day, I made a serious mistake.
The Gatekeeper had just left. I had gladly paid my toll for the day. But then, I made a significant error. I forgot to renew my connection with the Strong Guide before we began the days journey. But, He said nothing.
As we journeyed, I ventured excitedly ahead, seeing a beautiful field that I wanted to explore. And then, it happened. As I stepped into the field, I was attacked by a great swarm of stinging insects. No sooner would I swat one, than another, or two, would sting me. And, with each sting, I could feel myself weaken.
Then, from nowhere, my evil twin returned. There he stood again, motioning to me as he said, "Come with me, and I will show you a place of safety and a way of escape."
In the distraction of fighting off the insects, I almost reacted before I thought. But, I hesitated. Then, I realized I was alone. A panicked voice screamed in my head, "My Guide, where is my Strong Guide?"
I cried out for His help, and immediately He joined me. And, just as instantly, the insects and the other me vanished. I slumped to the ground, exhausted.
The Strong Guide said quietly, "We’ll stay here for a while until your strength returns. I looked at Him and asked, "Why did you not remind me?"
He answered my question with another very telling one, "Did you forget my early instructions?"
Then, his words came rushing back to sting my mind, as the insects had my body: "But know this, Pilgrim," I so clearly remembered Him saying, "I’ll do my part, but I won’t do yours! This journey is for you, not for me. So, you must learn the lessons of The Path. You must become wise to its ways. I will expect you to toughen to the journey and learn to survive. I expect you to be a different man at the end of this journey than you were at the beginning.
"I will lead, but you must follow with faith and courage. I will teach, but you must learn. I will provide, but you must make good use of what I give you. I will protect you, but not from the things that you need to experience. Are we clear, Pilgrim?"
"Nuff said," I said. It was my responsibility to seek you for this day, not yours to seek me."
"Take heart my son," He said smiling. "You have learned another lesson of The Path. I am proud of you for that. Who knows, maybe someday you will even learn how to learn in a less painful way."
And, so it went on the Path Of The Rising. Always we moved forward and upward, sometimes laughing, sometimes weeping. Many times, I was exhausted by the journey. Many times, I was energized and inspired by it. But, whatever the case with all of that, still, the journey was always a"we" proposition. And, somewhere along the way, the Strong Guide became the richest and deepest and best friend that I have ever known.
There were other travelers who occasionally joined us in the journey. Sometimes we overtook them. Sometimes they over took us. And I always enjoyed the companionship when we would share the journey for a while. But, His companionship was different from theirs. It was immeasurably more intimate than theirs. It was so much so that as the days passed I came to be able to anticipate Him, His thoughts, His wishes.
And, His care for me was always, every moment, at the highest level. Yet, it never smothered me. It never kept me from exploring the possibilities of who He was, or who I was, or the realities of The Path. Oh, He was protective, and in that interest, sometimes a bit restrictive, but only from harm, never from the good.
He became the joy of my life. It eventually came to be that I would sooner stop breathing, than be outside His benevolent, fulfilling presence. After a while, it seemed He actually was the breath of my life.
And I know that the other travelers that we encountered on The Path also enjoyed this intimacy with the Strong Guide. Unlike ordinary human beings, He was able to be in more than one place at once. So, He was as vital in their lives, as mine. But still, it always seemed I was His favorite. In my heart of hearts, I knew that wasn’t true; but, it did seem that way all the time.
Tricky, He's Very Tricky
One day, as we walked The Path, only He and I were there, as was often the case. It had been a
mostly uneventful day, and we were both just walking along quietly. Then He said, "Look up ahead. What do you see?"
I looked up The Path. A short distance ahead, it took an abrupt, upward incline. But, immediately before that steep rise in angle, there were two deep chasms cutting across and interrupting The Path, one after the other. These chasms were separated by a narrow land mass between them; and two rope suspension bridges, one over each chasm, provided passage across each. So, I described what I saw to Him.
Then He asked, "Do you think the first bridge to be necessary?"
I said, "Yes, I cannot reach the second without the first."
Then He asked, "Then do you think the second necessary?"
I said, "Yes, the first will do me no good without the second. I cannot reach the other side without the second bridge."
He walked on without saying another word. I waited for a long time, until it became clear that He had no intention of volunteering any more information. He had used this teaching tactic before, but somehow, it always caught me off guard. Nevertheless, it was His way of insisting that I stay mentally engaged. So, finally, I asked, "What in the world did those questions have to do with anything?"
He laughed out loud. He said, "My son, for now, it is enough that you know that life sometimes requires two bridges, and not just one." Then He snapped His head around to bring His smiling eyes into contact with mine.
When He saw the dumbfounded look on my face, He burst out into laughter. He turned sideways and crumpled a bit as He held His midsection with one hand and pointed His finger at the stupid expression on my face with the other. (So much for astute lectures.) 112.0 [Section 112.]
The Golden Goose
Then, there was another day when we were just walking in quiet and occasional conversation. We were mostly observing the sights and sounds of The Path, one of our favorite pastimes. The Strong Guide clearly enjoyed these quiet, conversational times with me, but only for so long. Then, invariably, He would stir something up. He would get something going, usually at my expense. And so it was this day - again.
He said in an obviously pretentious and high sounding voice, "Dear traveler of The Path, if I offered you endless solutions or endless wisdom which would you pick? And, I would love to hear your reasoning on this question."
After some thought, I said, "Well, I guess, if I took the solutions, all of my problems would be effortlessly resolved, because I would always have the solution that I needed. However, if I took the wisdom, I would have to labor through the thought process of devising the solution. So, I guess I would just ‘cut to the chase’ and take the solutions. Then, no work would be required on my part."
"Then let me ask you another question," He continued. Would you prefer to have the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg, or the golden eggs which she lays?"
"That one is easy," I replied. "I would rather have the goose. She is the source of the golden eggs."
"My child," He said, again beaming, "Do you not realize that you have just answered essentially the same question with opposing answers?"
I said, "No. How so?"
He said, "Life is not just composed of problems requiring solutions. It is composed of deep, hidden beauties that deserve to be discovered. It is composed of drama to be experienced and lessons to be learned. It is composed of goodness to be known and secrets to be revealed. All require wisdom not solutions; for they are not problems.
"On the other hand, though you have all solutions, yet you cannot solve the ‘problem - of problems.’ This is true because, though you have endless solutions, so also are the problems. Therefore, each day is like the last, always requiring more solutions.
"With wisdom, however, each day is richer than the last. With wisdom comes new discoveries, wisdom building on itself. And solutions do not go wanting either. Wisdom is really the source of your treasure."
He knew I would have to mentally digest all of that. So, quietness came again as I pondered what He had said. He would always allow me the time to digest. In fact, there was often a telling smile that indicated His pleasure in watching me do so. 113.0 [Section 113.]
Joy In Serving
As we moved up The Path Of The Rising day by day, many things started to become more clear to me - the expectations of the Strong Guide being one of them. Specifically, I began to understand my role as his servant, and not just His companion and protectorate. And, I began to derive a great deal of joy in doing the things that He instructed me to do in service to Him.
So each day, He would direct me in various things, and I simply followed his orders to accomplish the good things that He wished done. For example, in the evenings, I would build the fire and do other things that I knew served and pleased Him.
Sometimes, when we would encounter other pilgrims along The Path. He would tell me, "Cover her so that she is warm," or "Feed him so that he is nourished." So, I would do that as a simple act of obedience. And in those expressions of service, I found His appreciation and approval. And, I also found a sense of deep personal fulfillment... 114.0 [Section 114.]
The Day I Truly Understood Love
Every seventh day we would rest from our journey on The Path. These were wonderful days, and I came to look forward to them with a real anticipation.
On one such day, I had been sleeping in the tall green grass under a beautiful shade tree. It was so nice to stretch out in the perfect peace of a do-nothing day and just rest. But, when I awoke, the Strong Guide was waiting for me. I could tell that He was anxious for an exchange of thought with me. So, I smiled at him in silence for a long moment. And then I said playfully, "What?"
He smiled back and asked, "Pilgrim do you love me?"
I answered, "You know I do."
He shot back with a smile, "How do I know?"
I said, "Because I tell you on a regular basis."
Then He asked, "Is there any other way that I could know?"
I said, "Well, I suppose you could know by what I do."
He exploded in excitement as he jumped to his feet and bounded toward me. I almost jumped out of my skin, I was so surprised. Then He yelled, "Now you’ve got it child! Never forget that love is always more - what you do, than it is - what you feel."
I was awake now for sure. And, I think it is safe to say, I will never forget that point.
Then, He brought up another thought on the same subject. He asked, "Child, do you understand my love?" Bracing myself against what might be his next reaction, I said, "I’m not sure."
He said, "Look up and tell me what you see."
I looked up, though I’m not sure why. I knew what I would see. I saw it ever single day on The Path. Nevertheless, I said, "I see the sky, and the sun, and some clouds."
He beamed. He said, "That is how I love you. All of those things are distinctly different, but they exist together, at the same time, all the time. My love for you is that way also.
My love for you is based in three different motives at one time, all at the same time. I love you because I love you. I love you because I am your Strong Guide. And, I love you because you love me." He continued, "I love you based in who you are. I love you based in who I am. And, I love you because of what you do. And I love you in all three ways at the same time." 115.0 [Section 115.]
Growing Up Strong
As we traveled in the Region Of The Green Pastures, I definitely noticed a new strength and confidence. It seemed to grow in me daily. I came to know that this new vitality that I was experiencing was much more than just the daily life lessons and the joy of the journey. I came to know that this new vitality was literally rooted in the vitality of the Strong Guide.
It came to be obvious that as I merged with Him each day it did not serve merely to protect and guide me. Beyond that, He was literally sharing His life essence with me. And, day by day it changed me for the better; and it made me stronger. 116.0 [Section 116.]
The Sad Path
Sometimes, when we walked on The Path, I would catch a glimpse of another path which was always off to our left, but at times, very near our own. That path also had many travelers on it.
When we would come to a high place, I could notice that the other path ran, in a meandering way, more or less parallel to our own path. However, I could never find a place where the two paths actually intersected. I asked the Strong Guide about the other path.
He said it was The Path Of The False Hope. He told me that its origin lay back where The Path Of The Rising entered The Wilderness. He said, "The people on that path are some of those sad people that you saw back there."
He continued, "they were sad and preoccupied because of The Wilderness. It made them realize the risks involved with this True Path, the risks that come from needing to trust someone besides yourself. That wilderness through which this True Path required them to travel was simply too frightening for them."
His face saddened as He continued. "So, they embraced The Path Of The False Hope. It leads around the wilderness. They chose that path rather than risk pursuing me into the wilderness."
He paused and then continued, "They see the false path as a better, easier way. And, they entirely believe it to be the right path. But, it is not. Up ahead, it veers off, sharply in the wrong direction."
I asked Him if we could warn them the next time the paths came close together. He said, "Yes, we can do that. Try it when you see them again."
The next day, that opportunity came. The paths came easily within hearing distance of each other. So, I called out to a group on the other path. I yelled to them that they had made a mistake; and that here was The True Path; and that the Strong Guide was here.
To my surprise, they completely ignored me and walked on in silence. So, I called out again, with more volume and more insistently. This time, they did not ignore me. Instead, they picked up rocks and started throwing them at me. I dodged, and ducked, and ran on up ahead, out of their range.
After things calmed down, I dreaded to make eye contact with the Strong Guide. I knew He would be grinning from ear to ear. Nevertheless, I also knew I had to look. So, I did.
To my surprise, He was not grinning. He was weeping. It was not an audible kind of crying. But, His eyes were red; and, the tears were flowing lightly over His beard before they dropped to the ground. Instantly, my heart sank as I looked at Him.
I just stood quietly, waiting for Him to speak. In a moment, He chose to do so. He said, "They are so close, but they reject every overture. They want to experience The Rising, but only on their own terms. So, they will miss it altogether. And look how many there are.
I asked the Strong Guide why so many would choose that path. His quiet answer, in a deeply saddened voice, was simply, "That path asks nothing significant of them. I, on the other hand, ask a great deal." Then, making eye contact, he flashed a quick, faint smile and said, "As you well know.
" Every day, " He continued, "I watch them travel so very close to The Path of the Rising; and yet, they refuse to see it. Always, in their minds, they dismissed even the existence, much less the requirements, of The True Path. It is ever the same,‘We have a way. Don’t bother us. We know what we’re doing.’ Every day they delude themselves in the same way."
Again, He looked longingly at the group that had just rocked us, until they were out of sight. A thousand more times, they would come close to our path during the journey. And every time, they looked away in denial.
We spoke no more of The Sad Path, perhaps because there was nothing more to be said. But, I could tell that the thought of it was deeply painful to Him. He wept silently each time we neared it.
After a while, however, I did not see them anymore. I’m sure their path veered off, just as the Strong Guide said it would. When we become willing to abandon all rights it. 117.0 [ Section 117.]
The Final Success
We traveled many days in the Green Pastures Region. But eventually, I began to notice a change in the landscape surrounding The Path. The green pastures began to be intermittent now,
sharing the surrounding space with beautiful, carefully cultivated, well manicured fields.
These fields were planted with all kinds of fruit bearing plants. And, the differing fields of fruit were all at different stages of ripeness all the time.
I asked the Strong Guide who planted these beautiful fields. He said the travelers of The Path did it. He also told me that I too would plant a field and care for it until it began to yield fruit. As we traveled, the fields became more and more dominant in the landscape. I began to notice fruit everywhere.
The Strong Guide took great delight in sampling the fruit and bragging on the beauty and taste of it. In this part of our journey, it seemed that he was everyday just bubbling with joy as He beheld the vast fields.
Eventually, we came to a spot on The Path, and He stopped. He pointed to a tract beside The Path and said, "This is your field. We will cultivate it together, and you will bring forth your share of fru
So, for many days following, we spent our time, first planting, then cultivating and nurturing the fruit. Never in my life, had I known a more fulfilling time. I felt more useful, more complete, with every new fruit that appeared on the tender branches.
It eventually became my consuming mission to make my field bountiful. So, I joyfully gave my self to the work. And, though the work was sometimes demanding, the sense of joy and completion was always much more than worth it.
Eventually, the days turned into seasons. Then, the seasons turned into years. Then, the years turned into abundance. And, always there was the companionship of the Strong Guide. We laughed together. We cried together. We worked and struggled together across those years on the Fruitful Plain. Until one day, in a quiet moment of fellowship, the Strong Guide said, "It is done. The journey is finished."
I was a bit stunned by His statements. I said, "What do you mean the journey is finished. We have not traveled The Path in many years. We have remained here in this same place, cultivating the fruit."
He said, "My son, sometimes we measure progress on The Path Of The Rising, not in miles, but in growth. That is how you have traveled The Path these last years. You have born all of this precious fruit. And, as we have shared our days in this beautiful work, we have, in a real sense, become one in heart. I have stamped my image upon you."
I thought for a moment and I realized, the Strong Guide was right. It had happened so gradually, that I had hardly noticed. But, he was right. I had been so long and so intimately involved with Him that I could no longer tell my heart from His. I was still separate, and yet, not so much any more. I had truly become like Him - in heart. 118.0 [Section 118.]
"And now," He continued, "you will know the Pinnacle of The Path. We shall make but one more upward step, and you will be home."
And then we did; though I don’t remember actually moving. So, I cannot say precisely how I arrived at The Pinnacle. It was as if I went to sleep in one place and awakened in another. But, whatever the case, it was breath taking.
The scene that stretched before me seemed a perfect landscape. The morning sun was warm and bright. The birds were singing. Beautiful trees, and shrubs, and bushes were scattered in clumps and groupings across what looked to be endless miles of softly rolling, green hills.
This seemingly endless botanical garden sprawled with a patchwork mosaic of living, lush, getaways and sit-a-while places on the landscape. I have sense discovered that each place solicits a new mood, a different emotion, a new response from the soul, itself. Taken together this landscape was a perfectly manicured randomness for bathing the the soul in refreshing newness.
And there was a wide, shallow stream that ran just beside us and then meandered off through the landscape. The water was as clear as crystal. The bottom of the stream looked like granulated diamonds, so that the bright sunlight seemed to set the stream ablaze with a white light that flickered with every color of the rainbow.
When I saw it, I could not wait to get to it. Instinctively, I started running toward this irresistible ribbon of crystal light. But, when I arrived at its edge, I froze like a child on Christmas morning, not knowing what to do first. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to touch it, or drink it, or dive headlong into it.
The Strong Guide laughed out loud as He watched me. He said with eyes blazing with joy, "Take your time, child. You are finally and truly home. That stream and all of this are yours forever.
"And this is but the portal area. The great city, and the Almighty, and the headwaters of this River of Life flowing from His Great Throne, are all still to be experienced, as are countless other wonders.
"And, you will never again know pain or tears or death or war or loss. Here, with Me, you will know only unending days of joy and peace and fulfillment. Your journey is finished - and just beginning, my child."
And just like that, at the end of The Path of the Rising, I began to personally experience the fulfillment of the ancient promise of The Path:
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge." - The Holy Bible