I have several friends who are walking through dark and dangerous times in their lives.
This is how I have learned to share their burdens.
I see a narrow path winding on the ground below me.
Far above, the peaceful night sky twinkles with stars.
But between the wandering path and the quiet sky stands a dense forest of towering trees. The path weaves back and forth between the enormous trunks, with barely a glimpse of sky visible up through the thick branches. Certainly there is no other way through the forest; the path is the only way out of the trees.
And the trees are on fire.
Billowing plumes of flame stretch back as far as I can see. As fire consumes the trees, they collapse. Huge flaming branches crash to the ground and block the path.
There is no going back.
Ahead on the path, trees continue to burst into flame. Deafening explosions rent the air as they combust; showers of sparks erupt.
The way ahead is filled with danger.
From my vantage point, safe above the tree tops, I look down on the path and see my friend. She’s there, in the midst of the maelstrom, paralyzed with fear, almost beyond hope.
She doesn’t know which way to turn.
I see the way out
I call to her
I tell her I want to help.
I do my best to guide her, urging her to dart and dash along the path, stopping now for this new shower of sparks, hurrying ahead before the next branches collapse.
Sometimes she responds to my suggestions. Other times she does not. I accept that I can’t control her.
I want to climb down from my safe place, join her on the path, holding her hand as we run toward a safe place.
But I can’t do that either.
It’s not my calling to walk the path. I am called to
And accompany my friend as best I can, while she must face the forest fire directly.
I can’t take on this challenge for her.
I can only do it with her.
And while my friend learns to place her trust in the perspective that I can offer not from wisdom or experience but only from my unique vantage point, I am blessed beyond measure by watching her face the forest fires of her life with courage and exceptional bravery.