A long time ago, I stumbled on a meandering meadow path. Vibrant wildflowers exploded, vibrating with hum of bees and butterfly flutter.
The promise of joy lured me into the broad expanse.
But within a few steps, dark clouds gathered and a mighty wind whipped grasses across my legs. Ominous thunder rumbled. Waves of sleet suddenly streamed down in sheets. The trail turned up a mountain, rocky and steep, guarded by spindly pines. Blindly, in driving rain, I stumbled along.
I could not turn back. Other lives were at stake.
Soon rain turned to snow and the path ended at a sheer rock face. I began to climb, legs straining against gravity’s pull, fingers ragged and bleeding in icy air.
I’m still climbing. Other lives are still at stake.
Sometimes I sit on a rocky outcropping and bury my head in my hands. I stare out over the valley floor so far below, socked in with clouds. And I am too weary for tears. There are times I want to just let my fingers slip, and slide down that cliff and land in a heap on whatever ledge or ragged tree roots catch me.
Sometimes I wonder if there ever will be a mountain top; or if, at the pinnacle of this cliff, higher tundra paths snake on forever, where, choked for oxygen and blinded by blistering gusts, I will continue to wander.
There are times I realize I might not leave this mountain alive. I’ve claimed it with blood, sweat and tears. I might claim it with my very life. But even if I die on this mountain, it won’t be the end of the story.
You see, the promise of joy still lures me onwards.
It isn’t the beauty of the scenery that keeps me climbing now, it’s not even the other lives at stake. It’s the hope that one day it will all be set on fire. As I walk this wilderness expanse, I claim it. It’s mine now: all these dead and battered trees, leaning on leafless, wind-stripped bushes: this shattered, barren expanse.
And now it’s my right to offer it up as fuel for a mighty blaze of glory.
And maybe, just maybe, the sparks flung out will set the world on fire.
(Click the paintings below to view in a larger format.)
I added the originals for my “Blaze” series to my Etsy shop as well as several pieces published previously. Click here to visit.