Note from the author:

I write as if I were sitting in front of my reader speaking. It’s the form of writing I stumbled into when I began writing very young and have grown to enjoy it the most. As a conversationalist, it allows me to really connect and feel and pretend like I really was just sitting in front of you chatting back and forth.

This particular piece is not a new one for me, but it is one that I hold very near and dear to my heart; it’s something I wrote after celebrating my first Easter with unveiled eyes and the ability to see what Christ had done for me for the beautiful and amazing thing that it was and still is. 

But this piece is different from my usual writings because it’s not so much advice or encouragement in a direct sense. It’s a short story. 

Is this a work of fiction? I guess, technically. In my heart though, this might as well be true – though you should know that I do have a very active imagination…

The night is dark as I raise my eyes upward; this mountain seems never-ending. I’m not sure why I’m climbing exactly, but my father told me to, and I finally got around to doing it. This path is narrow and it makes the journey difficult, and I’ve tripped and I’ve fallen; I’m a little bruised and dirty now, but I know he’s waiting for me at the top. If I could just get there… 

I roll the pebbles I’m carrying around in my hand. They feel hard and almost rigid against my skin. Rough. I make a mental note to give them to my father to carry when I see him because I don’t necessarily like carrying them. 

He told me to give them to him countless times, but I’ve never listened. I’m just used to carrying them. There’s only a few of them, and they’re small; I guess it’s not that bad – but I’ll listen now. He said he would take them for me, so when I reach him, I’ll make sure to do as he says. I’m trying to learn quickly and at this point, I just want to make him proud. 

The night is so dark it is nearly blinding, my back aches, and I swear these pebbles are getting heavier. Maybe it’s a gravity thing? The higher my elevation, the heavier the stones? I’m not sure. I’ve never been one for science. 

I notice that I’ve been slowing my pace; I’ve been so confused as to where to go at some points and the path hasn’t always been easy to see. I’m taking smaller steps and, I’m not kidding, these pebbles just keep getting harder to carry. Just holding them in my hand hurts; they’re abrasive and the friction burns my skin. 

Finally, as I near the peak, I can make out a figure and I can only assume it’s my father, but it’s just so hard to see him. I try to break out in a run but I just can’t, not while I carry these pebbles. As I get closer to him, the sun is starting to rise. I can finally make out the figure and I’m so confused…

I approach this man from behind, but I know it’s a man, even from behind the cross. 

I round his left side to see who this could be. I study him and I am growing more puzzled by the moment. His arms are stretched across this carved out tree and he’s nailed to it. Blood drips from every impaled limb. His body is bloodied and beaten. He looks frail and injured but… somehow still so strong and complete. His head is topped with a crown of thorns and I wonder why.

Unexpectedly, he looks at me and we are face to face, eye to eye. No words are spoken but in an instant, I know he’s there because of me. It’s my fault. I should have been on that cross, but he took my place. 

Looking into this man’s eyes, I know he loves me in such a way I’ve only ever known from my father. 

It is in that moment that I realize, this man is my father, too.

I quickly look to my hand to give him the pebbles I’ve been carrying and in their place I see a rope. I look back at him, muddled, and I watch as his eyes fix on something beyond me. 

I turn to follow the rope to see what took the place of the pebbles and I’m shocked. Behind me are at least a dozen large boulders.

For a moment, I panic. How can this be? 

Where are my pebbles? 

Have I been dragging these along this whole time? 

How did I not realize?

I look back up to the man, my father, and he is already fixed on me. His mouth breathes no words but I can feel them in my heart: 

“My child, you started with pebbles, but as you walked along the valley, they grew. What you thought was your strength grew to accommodate the weight, but your heart never wanted to realize how much it was carrying, otherwise it might fail and you would die. 

As you climbed the mountain, they got heavier and because your heart got closer to me and I am the truth. But I’m here to take all of those away. You don’t have to carry them anymore. I am here to save you from this burden. You are free.”

I fall to my knees at his feet in tears. This is the most amazing man I’ve ever known, that has ever loved me, that I’ve ever loved, and he’ll take on all of this weight, this pain, this burden that is mine so that I may live freely.

After a moment, I stand and I take the rope I used to drag the boulders, and I toss them over each branch of the cross. As I hoist up each rock onto his shoulders, I can feel lighter. 

He cries out in pain with each landing, but yet, he looks at me and smiles. This love is unimaginable.

I finish, and I walk up to and face him. Though he remains nailed to the cross, I wrap my arms around him. 

As I hold him, I am held and we’re struck by a tidal wave of blood that washes over us, wiping everything out. I’m drowning but I’m so calm holding onto my father. 

Just as suddenly, there is a flash of bright light and we’re surrounded by sky, we’re clean – white as snow – and I can feel his arms around me. I’ve never been so secure, so complete, and so loved in all my life.

We stand in embrace for a long while and I smile though the happiest tears I’ve ever cried. 

He loosens his embrace, and I think he’s about to release me and my heart almost falls, but instead, he takes my hand and says, “Come, child. Be free.” 

I place my hand in his and we walk on together.