The Forbidden Path, by Alma Linda Martinez
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
I heard his voice call from the path that I had boarded up and sealed off long ago. In my mind I knew where that path led, and I was prepared to do everything in my power to avoid it at all costs. Yet sometimes in my sojourn through life it would appear out of nowhere, and in those times I wouldn't even stop long enough to question where it had come from. I would run as far away from it as I could so that the temptation to break the barricade wouldn't even be a possibility.
I had mastered this exercise. Each time patting myself on the back and letting out a sigh of relief when the path was far behind me. This is what my Father would have me do is what I told myself time and again. I wasn't prepared for a day when this exercise no longer made me proud. The path seemed to pop up more frequently, and sometimes the detours to avoid it more and more difficult to find.
The day came when it all changed. I was preparing to dig my heels into the Earth behind me and to spring off towards a proposed detour when I heard a familiar voice calling my name from just the other side of the barricade. "No," I thought, "That can't be who I think it is." I dug my heels in deeper and tensed up my leg muscles to run harder and faster than normal. The voice came again, and my heart sank in my chest. Maybe it WAS my Father, but maybe someone trying to deceive me.
I paused on the trail and squat down on the floor taking slow and deliberate breaths. "Why would he be calling from that path?" I thought. I sat on the packed dirt with tiny pebbles embedded through it. I sat there with my hands cupping my face until the stones made small half circle impressions in my thighs. There were so many questions swirling around in my mind, and I felt suspended in time. The third time He called I jumped to my feet. It was definitely my father because I heard him and felt him in my bones.
I took apprehensive steps toward the barricade. As I approached the barricade I realized it was more of an illusion than a deterrent. A couple of quick tugs and I was on the forbidden path with anxiety bearing down on my chest. It felt different this time, and not as familiar as I thought it would. This time my legs felt steady under me. I bore down on each step to make sure they were as steady as I thought.
"Father," I called. "Father, where are you?" The path led to a cloud the color of midnight. I froze in fear. I yelled into the cloud," FATHER!", but the cloud was so dense that my voice hit it and dampened. The instinct to retreat was a reflex and I turned around taking quick steps in the other direction. "My child, don't go," He called. It wasn't a command, it was compelling and gentle. I walked toward the cloud with tears streaming down my cheeks. "But Father,” I whispered, "I'm scared."
A gust of warmth plumed out of the cloud and enveloped me like a hug. "I promise you will be safe if you stay close to the sound of my voice," he said. I wanted to believe him, I really did. Instead I just stared at the purple and black mass ahead of me. I stuck in my right arm and saw it disappear before me. It was so dense that my arm felt ten pounds lighter when I pulled it back to my side.
"Do you promise me, father? Promise me that I won't fall this time. I can't afford to fall this time."
"My child, I know you can't see what I see, but I promise you it will be worth it. This path will lead you where I need you to be. I want you to trust me.”
With all the trust I had ever accumulated over my lifetime I walked hesitantly into the blackness ahead of me. My eyes were closed in a flinch, and I was trembling inside. Just as I suspected the weight against my body made each step feel labored. With clinched fists and squinted eyes I pulled my body with all my might until I felt the warmth of light baring down on me.
When I turned and looked behind me there was no blackness. I tried to find the cloud that felt so ominous, but soon realized it must have been an illusion. Facing toward the future I continued on the path ahead. One hesitant and reluctant step after another. There was no model in my mind. There was only safety in the comfort of an occasional whisper that assured me I was going the right way. They assured me that running from who He created me to be was never in the plan, but seeing the beauty that He sees in me always was.