The Path


What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,

The Master calls a butterfly.

~ Richard Bach


Gradually, the Master's steps slowed until both he and his disciple came to a halt, with his huge, intensely dazzling feet overawing the glow of her little feet, lined up one behind the other on the cutting edge. The exhilaration of the former pace left her, but that quiet, strong, bedrock joy still remained in her heart.

"I am standing on the last two steps of the blade," he said calmly.

Oh, joy! They were at the end of this part of the path!

"Will I get my new body now? Is my old self soon to be burned off?" she anxiously wanted to know.

"What is the Path?" he sidestepped her questions.

"Well, this razor sharpness we've been walking on is the path, even though it has come to feel like a mossy carpet to me." That the Master would ask such a simple question with such an obvious answer, made her feel uneasy.

What else could the path be? she wondered.

"I am going to my Father; but, you know the Way I am going," he said.

His cryptic talk confused her; she did not know what to say in answer. She hid her face deeper into the folds of his robe and held on even more tightly.

"You must stop holding onto me," he kindly informed her. "You can't follow me right now, but you will follow me later."

"Master! You mean, let go? I can't let go, now! I'm going to the Father, too," she exclaimed in horror of being left behind, and here of all places, on this cruel steel thousands of feet above the misty bottomlessness.

"You're coming, too, and you do know the Way," he assured her.

"I don't know. I can't get anywhere without you!" she cried.

"Of course you can't, just as I can do nothing unless our Father shows me first. Are you ready to take the next big step?"

"I don't know," she shuddered. "Somehow I think this one is going to be different from any obstacle we've met up with yet."

"Don't worry about that. There are no obstacles ahead, Dear Heart, and that's the whole point. There is only the Way to the Father and that's all."

"Oh, well, if you put it that way, I guess I'm ready. What is it you want me to do?" she asked again, hoping he would give her an instruction she liked better.

"Let go," he directed her.

She came on this trip so she could learn to trust him fully, to keep her eyes on him, walk in his Light, and cling as closely as she could. Letting go of him was unthinkable, but she must think about it if she was going to obey him.

"Can you tell me, please, what the path ahead is like?" she stalled with shaking voice, desperate for more time.

"If you let go, I can walk ahead and then you will see the whole Path for yourself," he asserted.

"Promise?"

"I promise," he assured her.

They stood for a long time on the last few paces of the mossy carpet, until low on the jagged horizon of craggy peaks the sun began to peep with one fiery, jeweled eye, radiating a rosy glow into the desolation of canyon systems in the ancient sea bed miles below and melting the darkness of the cloud banks above into molten rivers of golden light.

Why did things have to change? She had learned so much and had become used to the way things were. She was getting along well with the Master. They had already been through so much together and now it seemed things were going to change much more drastically than they had before.

But, each time a change had come, her love for him had become stronger and deeper. And greater joy had come at the end of every trial. His face was shining so brightly in her new heart now, the glow was shining from her body.

The longer she waited to obey, the more like the proud man clinging to the rock wall she appeared. If she waited too long, would the Master leave and come back for her at a later time when she was finally ready to listen to him? Would he leave her here, all alone, on the sharp blade?

"I will never leave you nor forsake you," the Master whispered from her new heart. "He who comes to me, I will never cast out. And I never change," he promised.

His words meant a great deal to her, especially the part about him never changing, but she was not able to speak just now. She was so terrified, she felt as if there was a great elephant sitting on her chest. She could only sigh, shuddering painfully.

"The man clinging to the wall wants to do things by his own power. You are trusting in me, but there are still some things about me you need to learn."

She forced herself to speak to him in a croaking rasp, "What are they, Master?"

"If you let go, I will begin to show you," he coaxed.

Because she wanted to see more of his wonderful self, she forced her fingers to untwine from his robe, while keeping her eyes on him. Then she rested her arms at her sides.

"That's right," he soothed. "Rest in me. Your work is only to obey and believe."

As she watched him, the Master brought his right foot in front of his left foot and set it down on…NOTHING! The razor's edge was gone with nothing but space in its place. Then while looking straight ahead, he began to walk suspended in the air.

Giddy and faint, she fixed her eyes on him despite her nauseatingly flipping stomach. As she watched him, the elephant became heavier. If she had been able to take a deep breath, she would have screamed. With such a great drop below him, she could never follow, but that is what he expected her to do.

He walked on, eyes straight ahead. He promised he would never leave her, but he was moving away swiftly in the blackness, resembling a ghost in thin air. Was that really the Master or was she seeing a specter, instead? In her new heart she heard him whisper,

"Be brave; it is I. Do not be afraid."

Concentrating on him more than she ever had before, knowing her precarious position on the blade required that she not be afraid, she gathered all the strength of her new heart and called out in a quivering voice,

"Master, if it is you, command me to come to you!"

The Master turned around, smiling, "I've heard that line before." Then crouching on the nothingness around him with the gilded aura of dawn crowning his silvery head, he opened his arms wide and gave the order,

"Come!"

So, just as a baby takes her first steps toward a loving father, she put her right foot in front of her left foot and set it down on the mossy carpet. Then she put her left foot in front of her right foot and set it down. As far as she was concerned, she was at the end of the path, period.

The Master had told her if she let go of him and let him walk away, she would see the whole path for herself; but, she saw nothing, except for him waiting for her to walk as he walked.

Taking a deep breath and holding her arms wide as if to balance herself, she prepared her mind to step out.

That is when an idea came to her:

When she finally trusted the Master enough to throw away her last sandal and begin to walk on the blade, she was surprised to feel a mossy carpet underfoot instead of a razor's edge. She was not going to walk out into space with nothing under her feet. She was going to step on something that she could not see, but she was sure she would feel. She trusted her new idea as much as she had trusted that she would put her foot on the floor from the last step of a staircase.

So, she fixed her eyes on him, swung her right foot in front of her left foot and put it down on…NOTHING!

Shocked, she flashed a glimpse into the abyss at what should not be missing, and her body followed her foot in a tumble down, down, down.

The air was blowing by her face so fast, her last, terrified breath being sucked out of her lungs was shrieking,

"Helllllp!"

Immediately, the Master stretched out his hand and grabbed her up into his arms.

"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" he asked her, with a slight smile and one eyebrow raised.

"I didn't doubt," she shouted in her extreme astonishment. "I was just surprised! It felt like…NOTHING! Where is the path? You said I'd see the path!"

"Ah! But you did doubt me and you saw the Path as well. You saw the whole Path before you."

This seemed like a joke or an unsolvable riddle and, indeed, he seemed ready to burst with the answer.

"Where is it? Tell me!" she demanded, while beating on his great chest with her little fists.

Tossing his head back, he thundered a joyful roar clear down into the void, reverberating off the flanks of the great mountains encircling the vast wasteland far below them.

"I am the Path! I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father, except through me!"

She was flabbergasted. Then she was laughing. Hugging his neck, she reached up and kissed him on his bearded cheek, her new heart overflowing with joy. If he was the Path as well as the Way to the Father, they came all that way and braved many dangers just to learn that fact. He was Everything.

Now that she knew who he really was, she gaped at him, once again uneasy that she had not been trusting or respecting him nearly as much as she should have or even as much as she thought she had been. How could she ever have thought that she loved him as she should?

Here they were, she in his arms, while he stood on…NOTHING! They were high above any principality or power or might or dominion she could think of. She called him Master, but his Full Name must be above any name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come, even in the Father's house. Certainly All Things were under his feet, especially if he never needed to stand on anything. He was Head over All Things. What more might she learn about him? It was too great to contemplate.

Before this, she thought she had finally figured out how to follow him with her new heart growing and saturated with Love and Light. That was when she thought he was at the center of her story.

But, now she knew the Master was the Center and he was the Story.

Suddenly, she wanted to be put back on the blade. She was not good enough for him to bother with her. If she could have, she would have run all the way back to her old home; yet, without the Master that would be impossible. He had promised to finish the job he had started in her and he had promised to take her to the Father. He always kept his word, so there was only one way to go and that was toward the Father.

Without another word spoken by either of them, he gravely stood her on the razor, before walking away and crouching down again. Then, with great concentration, she began to walk as he walked toward his waiting arms. Right foot passed left foot and set down on…nothing; but, she hardly noticed it, because now she knew who the Path was and she understood more about his majesty. He was Majesty.

Left foot on nothing, eyes locked with his, and she walked on this obstacle-less course, until she found herself safe in his warm embrace.