The night had come, the moon full in the sky. As I walked down the path, I could see the shadows thrown by the trees. I walked slowly but purposely; I knew where I was going, but knew better than to pretend I held dominion over this place. Winding through the forest by the river, I strode on until a light appeared ahead, as I walked the light grew and with it strange sounds that were just the other side of identifiable. Slowing so as not to surprise those ahead I carefully crept forward my senses widened.
Standing behind a tree I could feel the fire giving off the light I had seen, and around the fire sat three people each talking in hushed tones. I stood and stared at the people, taking in what can only be described as their presence, because though they were there, they also seemed to permeate everywhere.
Who are these people?
Staring I could make out their shape, lit by the fire the men seemed normal. But as I looked from one to the next, between them there was a slight haze, blurring the outline of their bodies. Their faces were clear but not familiar to me, I thought some where in my mind that they should be, that I must know them but I could not reach that memory.
Slowly as though being willed to, I stepped forward into the light.
As I approached the fire, the man in the middle looked at me and gestured for me to sit on the log opposite him. Sitting I stared at my host, my mind racing with what to say. I felt that there were questions I should ask, answers I must know, but why, who were these men but strangers in the woods?
Just as I was trying to speak, the man in the middle said, “Thank you for joining us, the fire is warm and you are welcome to share in its light.”
“Thank you,” I said. “Why are you here?”
“We are here each night. What has brought you here tonight?”
I thought about the question. It seemed innocent enough, but as I began to answer, I realized I didn’t remember. As I pulled on my memory it seemed to begin with that first step in the woods, no further. “I’m not sure,” I replied.
“Do not be scared. You are here now, let the warmth of the fire comfort you, with its light we shall remain safe in these woods.”
Are there three men or only one?
We sat in the quiet of the woods; the fire burned and its warmth spread over me. After what seemed like an eternity, but must have been only minutes the man asked again. “What has brought you here?”
Slowly I spoke, “I was walking through the wilderness feeling led to this fire. I was compelled to come, but I don’t remember from where I began. I’m afraid that I was lost before we met.”
Smiling the man across the fire leaned forward. “All are lost until they find their way, each path only becomes clear to those who are ready to walk it.”
Of course you are lost until you find the path, otherwise you wouldn’t be lost.
As I thought this, something else filled me and with it concern began to flood my mind. If I was lost before I arrived, where did I lose myself?
“I can see the conflict in your eyes,” said the man. “Do not fear this, let it work through you, for only in this conflict can you find your answers. Focus on the heat of the fire, you are safe here.”
My mind was raging trying to remember, trying to put the pieces together of where I began. What came before that first step in the woods, the minute before, the second before was just out of reach. What compelled me to walk through the woods? What led me to this fire? Why do I trust these men and why don’t the other two speak? On and on my mind worked, but answers were just on the other side of a veil I could not lift, could not tear!
Amnesia! It must be, but as I start to believe this, memories surface of my family and friends. I know who they are, I know they are all safe in their homes, sleeping though this night. So why am I here, and why do I know so much and yet nothing at all?
At this I look at the man through the flames, and it’s then I notice that where three sat now sits only one. I know that seconds ago there were three men there, “Where did your friends go?”
“They are here, they remain among us.”
“But where did they go, have they left the fire?”
“They did not leave, they are here with me and with you. They were never separate from us. I sat here alone and among them.”
In disbelief my mind raced, I was not sure what I should do. How does one man live among two others without them next to him?
“Do you know my name? Do you know the name of the others of which you speak?”
Thinking, I was afraid to speak the names that are in my head. I fear that the man will think me insane or ridicule me. But after the events of the night there are few things that seem sane, yet I feel at ease when I finally speak. “You are Jesus.”
“There was no one beside you.”
“No. You only saw me as three, because you could not yet see.”
“So why am I here?”
“You were compelled here by the spirit, the fire of God lit your path, and brought you to me.”
“Why can’t I remember anything before?”
“Nothing before your first step on this path matters. All of your actions, your sins have been washed away so that you could come to me.”
“Have I died?”
“No, but you are reborn and from this day you will know me. You will remember the feeling of the Holy Spirit moving in you and the warmth of God’s protective fire.”
“What would you have me do?”
“Live your life. It’s the most precious gift that can be given. It must be cherished and shared. In knowing me, you can live a life with purpose. In knowing me, your works and your deeds will be in my name. It’s in these works and deeds that you can share my name.”
“What if I forget you as I’ve forgotten my life before?”
“I will always remain. Seek and you will find me. The Holy Spirit will guide you, if you will let it and God’s light shines brighter than the brightest star.”
“Where do I go now. Can I stay with you?”
“You will return and remember all things. I will never leave you and will always be at your side. Many will question you, criticize you, remember you know me and I know you. You are a reflection of my good will, share only that good will, so that they may come to know me as well.”
Sitting in the presence of Jesus, I was overtaken with his love. I felt the warmth grow around me; I became calm and smiled.
“Go now to your life, love others as I love you. Share God’s warmth in your heart and the Holy Spirit within you, so that it may move in them.
My eyes opened, I lay in bed beside my wife. I smiled knowing that I was forever changed.