Thistles and Thorns
You stand there, surrounded by thistles and thorns, a patch of brier you can't break through. Each thistle represents a wound, a moment when the choice was to continue to feel the hurt or find a way to shield yourself from the hurt...
So, thistles and thorns surround you.
Sure, you can see the other side, the side where no brier would stand in your way...
but it's just too much to risk.
There is a man, though, that seems to always be within your view. He never goes far from where you stand, in the middle of your fortress of thorns. He sees you, on the other side of your barricade and he seems intent on getting your attention. Somehow, you know that if you look him in the eye,
things might change.
So, you avoid that kind of contact. Focus on his feet, look down into your own little fortress...
anything but face to face.
The thing is, when you constructed this thorny, full of thistles brier, you didn't really think it through. You forgot that inside that little fortress would be no nourishment, nothing to sustain you, and so weakness begins to take over. You're thirsty, you're hungry, you're cold...
You become desperate...maybe desperate enough to finally look that man in the face.
And so, you look up.
It only takes one moment, one view of eyes filled with fire and compassion all at once, to yearn for freedom in a way you never have before. Just looking at him seems to soften something inside of you.
Fear speaks up then...
"What are you doing?! Look away, look away!"
He keeps his gaze steady, though. He keeps his gaze steady on you...and you can't seem to look away. Then, he speaks. All he says is one word, but that one word is like a drink of water to your dry, parched soul...
he speaks your name.
He knows your name? He knows you?
Tears begin to swell, because just in his whisper of your name, you realize that you are desperate not to be alone anymore. You realize each wound, protected by thorns and thistles, they are not good companions, they don't bring any warmth to you.
Then you see something miraculous.
A flower bud, with small but vibrant green leaves around it. It came out of nowhere, but there it is, right in the middle of your brier, your thorns, your thistles. The first sign of life you've felt or seen in a long time. Something beautiful.
Did this man do that?
You look up at him again and he smiles at you. You crumple to your knees and tears begin trailing your face because of the warmth that fills your being at the sight of his smile. How long has it been since you felt any warmth? This man, he must be the reason. No one else who has come by has ever caused such a reaction. Then, he begins doing something that stuns and shocks you. With his own hands, he begins pulling at the brier rooted down around you.
Doesn't he know it will cut his hands, cause him to bleed?
You watch as he passionately pulls at the brier, seemingly unaware of his bloody palms, pierced by the thorns and thistles that surround you. Your eyes widen when you realize what he is doing.
He is clearing a path for your escape.
You jump up, excitement filling you as well as fear. Leave the fortress? Leave the protection you've built with your own hands?
He stops then, and looks at you.
His face doesn't reveal any pain, just deep compassion and kindness. You see his palms, bloody and wounded from his effort...wounded for you. Then, he extends one bloodied hand to you, inviting you to come out from behind your fortress. You stare a moment, overwhelmed by it all.
Could it be that this man's wounds have made a way for you to be free of yours?
Now that you've tasted warmth, you don't see how you can stay here, in this cold, dry, thirsty place. So, with trembling and still some uncertainty...
you reach out for him.
You take his bloodied hand and you walk out of that fortress into his embrace, through that path he created. How can just the touch of this man feel like healing to a wound? You don't understand, but it doesn't matter. It is real, and you know that you can never go back. You look up into his face and see those eyes that are filled with fire and compassion, and you begin to weep. This man, he freed you! He got you out of your fortress, away from those old wounds.
He freed you.
He turns you around and shows you that fortress, the one you lived in for so long and you can hardly believe your eyes. The whole brier now bursts with vibrant colors! Flowers of all kinds, vibrant, green leaves, the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.
Your thorns and thistles have become a garden bursting with life.
Your weeping continues as you turn back to this man, the one who freed you from that place, and he smiles again. He did what no one else could do. He allowed your pain to be his pain, the evidence there, all over his hands.
He allowed your pain to be his pain.
"Thank you for setting me free." Those are the only words that will come, and they don't seem like enough, but you offer them. He surprises you with his reaction. He begins to laugh and the sound sets your soul on fire with the deepest joy you've ever experienced.
You smile...the first one in a long time...and then you begin laughing with him...
This man, he turned your sorrow and pain into laughter and joy. He was willing to dig through your pain, to let it be his pain..and he has set you free from all the wounds, all the hurt.
He has set you free...
and you can laugh again, dance again..
find joy, again.