I had walked down a certain path for very long. During my journey, I had traversed various landscapes, some were desert, some lush green forests, yet others were rolling meadows that made me want to gallop on them like a jubiliant horse. Then, one day, deep in the middle of a forest, I came to a fork in the path. I wasn't sure which way to go. I could go either ways, it would be my choice. In a state of confusion, I stopped and stared down both paths. From where I stood, they seemed fairly similar, but I knew that far ahead they would take me to very different places.
I felt a panic grow within me as I realised that for once, I had no idea which way to go. What if I went down the wrong path? What if I made the wrong choice?
As my confusion grew, I heard the sound of footsteps in the distance. My first reaction to the sound was one of fear. Who could that be? The "crunchy" sound of fallen leaves being walked upon is mysterious, especially when you can't see the person! I looked in the direction of the sound, and eventually saw a man walking towards me. He was old but radiant, wore a yellow robe, and walked with an air of confidence about him. With a flowing beard and a slender form, he resembled what I thought Christ must have looked like. As he came closer, I looked into his eyes and saw a light in them that warmed my heart instantly. I was not scared anymore. The forest around me began to glow as his presence drew near. He was not of this world. He was a man of the Spirit. A Holy One.
As he stood before me, I was stumped for words. I didn't know who he was, how he knew me, and why he had come to meet me. I bowed to him in reverence, my reflex reaction when I encounter a being who radiates the light of the Spirit. He put both his hands on my head, looked up at me with the pride of a parent who is seeing their child after a long time. I was taller than him, much taller. Yet his light was far brighter than my mortal eyes could bear. The extent of his aura was far beyond my reach. I closed my eyes.
"My child, you are here at last," he said. I began to cry. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I sobbed for no apparent reason. Every burden, every anxiety, every disappointment I had ever faced in my life began to melt away in those tears. I cried like a baby. He wiped away some tears from my cheeks, then embraced and held me as my tears streamed down his yellow robe. With each tear shed, my heart felt lighter. Not a word was exchanged between us. Only the sounds of the forest in the background, interrupted by my steady sniffles.
As my sobs subsided, we sat down on the stones under an oak tree. "Where have you come from, and more importantly, where are you going?" he asked me, lovingly. I felt like saying, "That's exactly what I was hoping you would tell me!" But I didn't. However, the smile on his face told me he had already read my mind. "Son, it doesn't matter which path you choose. The path you choose will take you where you must go. But first, you must love the path. Then trust it. Finally, let go, and just walk it. The more you love it, the more it will bring you to where you should be. Learn to love the path. However difficult it may seem."
"But what if I spend my whole life on the wrong path?" I retorted, anxious and fearful as usual. "Right and wrong is in your head. The path is just that... a path. Your judgement says it is right or wrong. Nothing you do can be wrong, it is only a choice you have made," he explained.
He pointed towards the fork ahead. "Each of those paths ahead is very different. The one on the left takes you across scenic valleys. The sights are lovely, I must say. There are lakes, ponds, and palaces to feast your eyes on. You can be very happy if you enjoy each moment along the way."
"And what's on the other path?" I asked, eager to make my decision.
"At first, it's forest on either side, but very soon, the path ends at the edge of a cliff."
I was relieved. "Okay, so that's settled then. I'm going with the scenic valleys."
"Before you make your decision, though, I must tell you something." He pointed towards the sky and continued, "At night, I've seen angels hovering over that cliff. One night, as I looked closer, I saw an angel holding the hands of a little boy as they both glided across the night sky. The boy squealed in happiness. She was teaching him how to fly."
My eyes were wide with wonder.
"Only when you trust the path, son. Only when you trust it. When you do, happiness awaits you at the other end. It doesn't matter which one you choose."
He arose and put both his hands on my shoulders, gave me a reassuring look, and told me to continue on my journey. As I picked up my things, I felt a pang of sadness. "Will I see you again? Where do you live? How can I find you in future?," I asked him all at once.
He laughed at my questions, shook his head, and said, "Always eager to know the future. What do your people call it? Planning! Ah, yes. You like to 'plan' for the future. My child, in Spirit terms, there is no such thing as a plan. There is no future, no past. Only this moment. So how can there be a plan for a time that does not exist? We are here now. It is beautiful. I am happy to see you."
With those words, he walked away into the forest. The crunchy sound of fallen leaves being walked upon faded away into the distance. I put my backpack on and made my choice.