I do not know what occurred in Amber’s story for days seven through twelve. Maybe one day she will share them with me, but I know it will not be today. For the time being, I only know it is day thirteen of her process, and I the Spirits have called for me to return.
Finally, it is time. I am anxious to see Amber and to have one final conversation with her before she passes on. I hope to find her settled and peaceful.
When I arrive in the cave, she is anxiously wringing her hands. She is still worried about her decision, but she has also found her faith. Faith is not this magical picture created by the many interpretations of spiritual scripts. Faith is the miracle of those who work hard enough to have it.
When we look at the scriptures, we may choose to see magic and miraculous faith, or perhaps we will see the stories of people, just like us, having their faith tested. We will see a record of how they held firm in their faith in the face of overwhelming odds. The story is wondrous, not as a result of faith but as an act. The situations are everyday occurrences made great by a person rising above the standard reaction to make the moment more than it would have been otherwise. That, to me, is the true definition of a miracle–everyday people realizing they can go beyond current expectations.
Amber has realized this challenge. She now holds tightly to her faith. She understands it is a fragile thing, easier lost than found. She wrings it in her hands because if she is to let go of the most important of all things to her–her family–, she must not look back, not even for a moment. Releasing them is more important than her relationship with her faith and even her eternal life. It is a testament to her truth.
As in the Biblical story of Abraham, where we see a man’s ability to stand before an alter, appearing ready to sacrifice his son, we try to comprehend why a God would ask this of a man. Even more, we wonder how the man could consider bowing before such a request. The thing we don’t consider is that it might well be the story of a man who KNEW his God would not demand this kind of sacrifice. The story could simply say, the man’s faith was so strong, he would stake his child’s life on it. I do not have this kind of faith. I cling tightly to my children and trust no one above myself to protect them. I do not have faith in a God above myself to step between my children and harm’s way, but Amber does, and her faith will move mountains.
Many of us try to comprehend the kind of faith that asks us to let go of those we love, to believe they will be protected, or that there is an eternal life where we will be with them again. This is an amazing kind of faith. Amber goes beyond this kind of faith. God is asking her to know this truth, even after having met ‘the Devil.’ She understands the horrors he is capable of inflicting. She experienced his manipulation and the places where he was able to take her. To even believe we can comprehend this kind of faith is beyond us. This kind of faith is the faith of Saints, and I am honored to be in its presence.
Still, her faith is not a magical, beautiful, glowing place. It is a fragile, nerve-wracked, fleeting place, like the early moments of an addict in sobriety. It is beyond the understanding of others and is lonely and completely isolated of support. It is a quiet place I enter carefully and with the utmost respect.
I move softly to where Amber now sits on the couch, head down, in a slightly fetal position. She holds her faith by the thinnest of threads.
I speak softly, “Amber, I’m here.” My voice is not even a whisper.
She nods and begins to cry a little.
“I know.” She stands as she speaks, resigning herself to her next task.
We walk to the back of the cave, where a set of stairs cut into the rock. We move down the steps and into a dark corridor. It is not darkness to fear, not in the typical sense. This darkness simply represents what is yet to be discovered. This is not a place of monsters. It is a place of possibilities.
It is not like the natural rock cavern where I passed before. The passageway I traveled with young Amber was a space created for safety. It was her innermost self, the most vulnerable aspects of her personality. Natural cracks in the Earth and the falling of giant rocks formed the corridor over time. It was a path like those found in naturally formed caves, developed over the years of Amber’s young life, with the shifting and churning of her experience. We all have these earthquakes within our experience, creating caverns in our soul, where our wounds go to hide.
The pathway we enter now is hand toiled. The steps are carved from black rock and are nearly perfect in shape and texture. The walls are smooth and form a near-flawless arch above our heads. For the most part, the path is straight, with just a single bend to the left, at the end of the long corridor. I realize it bends in the same direction as the other cave and remember the mental note I made of Amber’s mind turning in this direction. To her, it represents a place of safety.
Amber has worked very hard creating this path, cutting a new corridor in her soul, a new truth in her story. This place where I now stand has been forged by her prayer, by her search for home. I no longer wonder what she has done over the last several days. I stand within it. She has done what I asked her to do. She prayed, and she made her own path to the other side. Her vision is clear, and through her sight, she has seen where she must go to find God. She did not cross through the waterfall and look for God outside of herself. She knew God could be found only by going deeper within. I am once again amazed by her wisdom and her innate understanding of Universal Truth.
As we move forward and come near the turn, I start to sense some anxiety. I sense deception and a deliberate redirection of the path. I can tell I am now being led deep into the Earth, and we are purposefully steering away from where I know the cave will open into a meadow.