He sat quietly in the cave. No sound or movement came from him. He had the look on his face of an old man reminiscing of long ago. He was thinking of back then, but they were not happy thoughts. They were thoughts that left scars on his tender heart.
Joey had lost his mother when his was very young. The very example of Christian love had been taken from him, it seemed, when he had needed that love the most. His father, not able to cope with the death of a wife he had loved, had turned bitter towards God and had resisted the outstretched hands of the church. In his blindness from misery, he had forbidden the boy to attend church, he himself not even considering to attend church anymore. So deeper and deeper he fell into his own misery, and faster and faster he fell into the pit of his own self-destruction. And like a weed, slowly he began to die within himself.
But through this all Joey survived. The love of God strengthened his heart; the Holy Spirit was a comfort to his soul. Like a flower he blossomed, becoming stronger and stronger in the Word of God, bathing in His sunlight.
But his one weakness was his inability to forgive his father. How could he forbid Joey to attend church when he needed it the most? But he had found his sanctuary in a cave. This was where he went to pray his simple yet sincere prayers. This was where he was reassured that no one could separate him from God. This was where he went to renew his strength that could be weakened under the hands of his confused father. And this was where he went to find peace with his soul. No one could find him in this monastic-like dwelling with the wind humming its Gregorian chant. No one but God.
He had gone off to college and had forgotten about the cave. He had found fellow friends who understood the pain he had gone through. And the more friends he found the less communication he had with his father. In fact, he had hardly heard from anyone back home until today. The minister had called him. His father had just passed away a few minutes ago.
The minister told Joey that before his father had died, he had acknowledged Christ as his Savior. His father had also asked for Joey’s forgiveness for being too selfish to see beyond his own grief to that of his son’s.
It seemed as though his father was asking for the impossible. How could he forgive him? After all those years! He had survived all the pain, but not because his father had shown love and support. How difficult it had been! The love from his father seemed to have vanished as quickly as a vapor. He had been so alone! His father hadn’t even tried to comfort Joey in his grief. He had barely acknowledged the boy and now Joey had to forgive him?
But Joey realized he was not seeing clearly. As a matter of fact, he was surrounded by a cloud of anger and that was not the right way to think. Like he did back then, he went to the cave of his childhood to find peace with his heart that now was in turmoil.
When he went back there he realized something, he had never been alone. Like in the poem, there was one set of footprints and they were not his. God had carried him through it all. He had given him a comfort greater than any on this earth.
And then he perceived an even greater truth. Like Christ had forgiven him so must he forgive his father. “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…” For if we can not liken ourselves to Christ, what right have we to call ourselves Christians?
Joey had found peace with his soul and again he felt the love of God surround him and the Holy Spirit reassure him. He would never be alone. The path of a Christian was not one that was taken solo. When he fell into despair, all he had to do was pray, and that heavy burden would be lifted of his shoulders. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
With that knowledge in his mind and that comfort in his heart, he sat back in his monastic-like cave, satisfied, and listened to the chanting of the wind. ❖