I woke on a dusty road. It was the path of my life.
The dust swirled about me on my knees and I felt warmth because there were footsteps beside me, guiding me.
Hands that held me and helped me along.
Dark still, early morning sun rising along the tree line. I could not make out the faces.
The road was well trodden. I noticed that many had walked it before I, and the people I walked beside had been walking for some time.
Rising up to my feet to take clumsy steps and falling, calloused hands brought me up again.
My brothers and sisters slowed to allow me to keep pace, but as the sun rose in the sky I found my sturdy gait.
We stopped by a field because my sister began to tire. A tall, green hill stretched out of the flat land.
We saw a shepard come down from the hill toward her. He smiled at her with love in His face.
He picked her up and cradled her in His arms for she could no longer walk. We all watched as they crested the hill.
We were small in number and with one of our own gone we tightened our ranks.
Gazing sternly, solemnly, sadly towards one another we rose as a group to carry on. We noticed ourselves in the midst of a valley.
We found a river in the valley. Each of us had his turn to walk across and yet none could.
The river twisted and swirled in it's eddies and we noticed that those who went too far alone were swept back to the shore.
Finally hand in hand, arm in arm we steadied each other and slowly we forded the river.
We all, many feet, clambored up the steep bank across the river, having made it through the strength of each other.
We began to walk the road together again. Our numbers ebbed and flowed with the paths we crossed.
Some of us stopped to tend the seeds we had planted along the way with those hands we held well while walking.
I found that though I had not intended to lay seed, a small hand came to me and held mine.
Fresh, tiny fingers that squeezed with little ferocity while I carried him.
It was then that I found a rocky trail filled with people who walked amongst the sick and dying.
The air had become thick with the smell of waste, and full with the sounds of grief.
Those of us who walked on this path found that we could not bear to walk it alone and we huddled close.
We looked at each other, and did not flinch. We did not acknowledge sadness in the air and did not allow it to land on us.
But it did.
Together we stumbled and were dragged down by twisting roots and jagged rocks and held there by needy hands.
We fell headlong amongst the injured. We were wounded to our hearts and terrified to our bones by the things we do to one another.