a long way home

i know a weary traveler, a young woman of tender heart and tough skin. she spends most of her days walking, never staying in one place for too long:: always the sojourner, one foot ever in front of the other. every now and again, she stops for a while–sometimes because she’s tired, sometimes because she’s lost, sometimes because she’s unsure where she’ll go next. so she will stop, and she’ll shake the dust, and settle in where she’s found herself the very best she can.

once in a while, she will sit and massage the cracked skin of her worn feet. she sits and she talks, telling of her travels, of the roads she has traversed. she speaks of an alcoholic father and parents who were absent, of a little girl with a big burden; and her eyes tell of the steep and narrow path that led to her escape, of how she felt all alone as she walked, of the times she slipped on the rocks and cut up her feet and cradled them as she cried, wishing someone were there to help stop the bleeding. she speaks of a lover who was unfaithful, of a broken heart and shattered dreams, of deep loss and soul ache and the times she had to force herself to crawl through the fog, the walkway shrouded in darkness and storm. and she speaks of the dusty road on which she’s found herself in recent years, long and winding, in a faraway land that keeps calling her back again. she speaks of burning thirst in the hot sun and how often she’s felt like a hagar, a life lived in perpetual exile, sent away to die in the desert; and of secret streams that have refreshed her, like the laughter of her children or a bright blue bird perched on the porch steps.

and after she tells her stories, she will sit in silence for a while with her eyes closed, like she’s thinking about something too sacred to speak aloud. moments pass–maybe just a few, or perhaps many more; and then she rises to her feet, ready to walk again. and it seems so soon, too soon, and some voice their concerns, for wherever could she be off to this time, and after all these years and all these miles, isn’t she tired of walking, of always being on the move?

“you see,” she explains gently, “we’re all on our way somewhere; we’ll all find ourselves home eventually. i would just rather walk away from what’s hurt me and walk towards my destination, than sit and wait for the destination to come to me. for what life is lived in sitting? very little, to be sure. but when i’m walking, i’m moving; there is breath in my lungs and blood through my veins and purpose in my heart. simply put, i’m alive. and yes, the way seems long, and of course, i get tired, and who really knows what to expect along the way? but i know where i’m headed, and every step taken brings me that much closer.”

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