To read part 1 of The Thicket, click here.
Soon, my mind began to wander back to the meadow. I thought of the trees ripened with tempting fruit and wondered if we would find any more of them on our path.
“You can always change your mind,” a voice spoke quietly in my ear.
I closed my eyes, attempting to ignore it, but another whispered to me.
“This is your life. Don’t let anyone else lead it for you.” I opened my eyes and looked at the gatekeeper. The voices fell silent.
“Do you remember the trees back in the meadow?” I asked him.
“Will there be any on our journey?”
“There will, but do not eat their fruit.”
“Why?” I couldn’t hide my frustration.
“The fruit of the trees in the meadow will only bring you harm,” he said. “You must know my voice and listen to mine alone. I will not keep any good thing from you. Neither will I give you anything which will bring you harm.”
I was not satisfied with his answers; I wanted him to explain his reasoning to me. He chose not to do so, and it frustrated me. We continued our journey, and he was faithful to his promises. I never seemed to lack anything. These were wonderful, carefree times when he spoke to me of many things. Both my heart and my head were at peace with my choice…until the day we came to another meadow. He did not stop but turned away from it as he had before. Once again, the path led uphill away from everything pleasant and desirable. I followed him, but the voices called out.
“Turn around. At least consider what we have to offer.”
“Child, you must trust me,” the gatekeeper’s voice seemed distant. I continued to stare at the meadow. Without even realizing it, I began heading downhill toward the lush, green grass and abundantly productive trees. Somewhere far away, I could hear his voice. “I will never leave you. Call out to me in your day of trouble, and I will deliver you.”
Soon I was standing underneath one of the fullest trees in the meadow. I reached up, and a perfectly ripened fruit seemed to fall into my hand. I hesitated as I considered the gatekeeper’s words: “It will only bring you harm.”
The voices encouraged my independent nature.
“Determine your destiny!”
“Lead your own life!”
“Make your own decisions!”
“Follow your heart.”
Suddenly, it seemed trivial to make this such a momentous decision. Such an insignificant action wouldn’t change my life, and it certainly wouldn’t change the world. I lifted it to my lips, took a bite, and closed my eyes to savor the moment. The soft, sweet, flesh contained tiny seeds that were swallowed easily. The taste was even better than expected, and I quickly finished it. I was encouraged to sample the tremendous variety of fruit the meadow offered. Each had a completely different taste. Each was appealing in its own way. I decided that I would rest before rejoining the gatekeeper. Perhaps, he would come to realize the fruit of the meadow wasn’t so harmful after all.
To be continued…
Co-authored by Brad Poplin
Featured Image By Mitchel Boot