BY LAURA GREENWOOD
Ellie grew up in a world of linear thought and logical deduction. She knew nothing else; nothing but the proven bare lines of what she was told was reality. She never questioned its hard edges or simplified structure. She had been told that there was nothing more than what could be explained by observation and experimentation; that anything beyond that was just wishful thinking, or even worse, a crutch. There was no higher beauty than what was readily seen. When she asked if there was ever more to reality beyond the bleak landscape of science she was told not to ask foolish questions.
Then one day out of the corner of her eye, she saw It. She couldn’t describe It, because she had never seen anything of the sort before, but she thought that It was calm, fluid, and deep. It was gone before she could tell what exactly It was. She asked her school teacher about It and he told her no sane person seriously believed that something beyond the proven lines existed. That night she asked her parents about It. They replied that they had seen something of the sort a long time ago and for a while It had transformed their lives. When she asked why they no longer saw It they replied that that over the years It had faded, only to be recalled every so often on a Sunday.
So from then on Ellie decided to search persistently for a glimpse of It: this grace and form that was not readily apparent in everyday life. She found that the more that she looked for It the more that she saw glimpses of It. However, every time, It had different facets. One day It was loud, warm, and beating, and the next It was peaceful, rustling, and yet unshakable. However, It always had a certain sense about It that she couldn’t quite grasp—but that revealed Its preeminent authenticity. She searched harder and harder until she began to neglect her schoolwork to search for glimpses of this otherness.
Then one day, she turned a corner and It was there, all around her. The world that she had seen up to this point was barren and blank, but now she saw that the world was full of It. It was bright and vibrant with many original shapes and figures, for It was a greater reality that had existed since time had begun, but that had been veiled from sight.
As Ellie walked down the road that had been so familiar a second ago she gasped in awe and wonder at the color and form that had appeared before her eyes. For this greater reality had whooshed in between the empty shapes and filled them with Its glory. As she walked, she saw the familiar awaken into strange and wondrous figures. In this fuller vision she was able to see what had given It its greater authenticity; for everything there bore the seal of the One.
As she walked in this world she realized that it was indeed her own, for there, unaware, was her school teacher, walking towards her with unseeing eyes. He passed her by and continued on his way, frowning along in this beauty. She puzzled at this and realized that he was blind to this deeper reality that existed within. Filled with sorrow at his inability to see, she wondered how she had stumbled upon this herself.
When Ellie turned to go on her way she realized that she was not alone in this place. For she saw Him: the One. While He had an air of complete authority, He appeared in absolute humility—much like a Carpenter. It was He who had created and shaped this place to be filled with His glory and love. He was Its maker and owner, and He had made a life for Ellie within It. “You are now presented with a choice,” He said. “You can go onward in this fullness, or you can remain in the shadow world the rest of your days—slowly forgetting this one.” Incredulous, she asked, “Why would anyone choose empty shadows over the fullness of light?”
He replied, “While the other world is but a shadow of this one, it is able to be fully known, comprehended, and to a degree, manipulated by those who live in it. To choose this fuller world is to reject your own ability to comprehend and control the world you exist in. To live in this complete world, you must refuse the promises that the other world seeks to offer you, and trust in the promises of love and truth that I have made you. Many do not trust in My love enough to let go of their own control. Think carefully of your decision, for choosing this greater world may lead to everything from simple ridicule to outright persecution. And yet I promise you that these hardships, though painful, will enable you to not only see this deeper world, but to actually live within it.”
Ellie thought for what seemed an eternity, but soon replied resolutely, “Though it may offer more hardship, this world is too beautiful and too full to reject knowingly. I choose the narrow road.” The Carpenter smiled with delight and said, “I’m glad that you choose the greater path, and that you take joy in My creation. Now remember, if you are to live in this truer world and to not forget it until the last day, you must abide in My life. I have given it for you, so that you may walk in the way that I have prepared for you. It will be hard, and there may be days when it ceases to be clear and fades, but simply call out to Me and I will lead you back into the world that I have for you. You will know My call because I will always address you as My beloved, and will ask you to “arise and come away” with me. If you ignore Me, it will be harder to see the truer world that I have made. For I have loved you. Abide in My love and you will see this world.” He parted with an embrace and walked on through the trees and out of sight.
Ellie stood in awe at the conversation that had just changed her very existence. She felt like she had been remade: whole and new without the scars of her former self. Though she wasn’t sure how to proceed, she made her way home, and out of her heart poured a song of joy in rhythm with this new world of color and form.
Weeks passed and then years. Ellie walked in the way that had been made for her. Every day presented itself as a different mix of the two worlds. Some days it seemed as if she was walking in fields full of majesty. Others seemed to fill with trivial matters like tests and mere tasks; the beautiful world fading into the lines and shapes of the blank and naked one. Then, when she realized the darkness draped over her eyes and the bitter pain numbing her heart, she would cry out for the Carpenter, and He would come to her rescue. Sometimes she wouldn’t even be able to cry out, but He was faithful. He still came. He would come, singing over her throbbing heart:
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away. (Song of Solomon 2:10b (ESV)
Sometimes she would heed His call; dropping her books, she would run to Him. Other times, she would hesitate a moment too long and the opportunity would close, and she would be left in the bleak and dreary world. However, the Carpenter was always one for second chances. He would come when she was ready to walk with him, when she was ready to lay her shadow dreams at His feet.
He led her in His way everlasting. Never was she without the ability to grasp His hand and walk by His side in the world of majesty and wonder. And she abided in the life the Carpenter had prepared for her, all her days.