I no longer know what is real and what has been conjured in the recesses of my fear-racked imagination. Yesterday, He was with me. On that tree, in that place. Yesterday, I knew Him and I could embrace what He was and I had rejoiced in the Knowing.
Today He is gone.
He hung on that tree and cried out in our shared agony and I was rapturous with the suffering. Together we reached the pinnacle of our mutual damnation and it became clear to us both that we were seeking answers beyond our knowledge and our ability to grasp but which would be strangely easy to understand once we asked the right questions.
He looked at me from that tree and beckoned me to Him. My legs moved easily now and it was all I could do to keep from running. His gaze communicated a fullness and love that washed away the last shred of fear still lingering in my consciousness.
But the Wilderness is unforgiving. It swallows all hope, banishes the smallest kernel of love, celebrates the bacchanal of the demons as they swirl around us while we try to escape. And so it was with Him. As his gaze of love and understanding pierced my heart, the light in his eyes began to fade. He called out for drink, called for His Father, then … I can’t bear to say it … He died.
In shock I leapt back and cried out in panic and loss. No! I’ve just found Him!
My legs were the first to go. They folded like a collapsing house of cards underneath me and refused to carry me even an inch past the foot of the tree. My arms wrapped once again around me and I folded into the protective covering lest the demons should enter in one more time.
O God! Where have you gone!
The panic was almost complete. The loss, having just found Him, was unbearable.
O God, do not forsake us!
I turn to the tree once again. There hung the same senselessly distended, unutterably withered man I had met what seems a lifetime ago. He doesn’t move. He doesn’t speak. But looking at Him I was suddenly filled with a sure knowledge that it isn’t over yet. How I knew this I don’t know.
Until then, my grief is absolute and all-consuming.
Today, He is gone.