** ** ** **He turned the truck off and slipped out from behind the wheel unsuspectingly. The silence of a place untouched by man's destructive hands greeted him, and he sighed contentedly - yes, they had been right...this place was gorgeous.
In front of him, the meadow fairly glowed with peace and happiness. Every beautiful yellow flower, every happy bird, even the sun itself - all sent forth a message of joyfulness that did his tired heart good. Marveling at the ability this place had to brighten his day, he set off through the flowers towards the trees beyond.
More calming beauty awaited him. These trees were old....and striking in their age. Their huge gnarled trunks were filled with a silent strength that made him glad they were firmly rooted in the ground. He slid to the ground and let his mind wander for a moment. The things they could do if these trees were able to walk and move! The branches looked like gigantic muscles...waiting for something to come that would put into action a strength beyond our imagination.
The bushes next to him rustled and he turned his head slowly to meet the startled eyes of a little fox. Indignant at the intrusion, the critter whirled around and dashed out of sight. He grinned and started on again. This place invigorated him! The very air was full of joy....love....contentment...
His pace slowed. There was something off to his right...a darkness through the trees. Changing his course, he started towards it. It was a shadow. Just a shadow - nothing more, but it spoke of something. Discontent, maybe? Something not quite right. But then it was gone. He shook his head as if he was just waking up. Surely there was no discontentment here! Looking over his shoulder, he saw to his satisfaction that the shadow was gone. He must have imagined it.
As he kept going, it became obvious that he was getting pretty deep into the heart of the forest. No longer was there a path....the weeds and grass got higher and harder to walk through. It was as if the forest itself had put up a "No Trespassing" sign. But he was not to be stopped. His progress got slower and slower as he was forced to climb over fallen trees and cut through overgrown weeds.
Then he found it. The hidden heart of the forest.
It was nothing like the outside....nothing at all. Dark, overgrown, and filled with a sadness that entwined itself around everything. Winds of confusion whispered through the branches, and echoes of incompetence and insufficiency surrounded him. There were no flowers here, no birds. Nothing that in any way resembled the bright joy and happiness that surrounded it.
Confused, he turned to leave. Slowly at first, then faster and faster until he was running frantically through the trees. Running for the bright sun and the happy flowers. He burst out of the forest exhausted.
Shaken by what he had seen, he sank to the ground. It dawned on him slowly.....the forest was a picture. A picture of himself. His friends called him the "life-of-the-party", the happy, contented one. People loved to be around him. But deep within the heart of this man....hard to get to, and thickly protected with fallen logs and weeds - there was a weak spot. A vulnerable and hurting spot.
** ** ** **
What do you hide inside yourself?
What is protected inside your fallen logs and overgrown brush?
I know this is true of me....I can hide my real feelings oh so well. There's a "normal, around-people me" and a "by-myself me". Cutting down the weeds and clearing the fallen logs is hard work. Maybe painful work. But clearing a path is a worthy goal to work towards....not that every person you know needs access to it. But be willing to be vulnerable.
And remember that a lot of people you know have a hidden part of them. A place hard to get to....but a place that may need a reminder that there is a sun out there....and bright flowers.
"The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out."