He walked deeper into the garden; breathing in the comforting aroma it offered. This was a sacred place for him; this sanctuary, this natural temple of restoration. He knew it was not so much the place as what he did here that made it special. Yet, still he seemed to find a certain strength here, a certain peace. Could he find it one more time?
He looked back from where he had come; where his friends sat waiting for his return. They would have joined him if he had asked them to. They would have been happy, even excited to do so. “They were so much like children,” he thought. But these last few steps he would have to take alone. If they knew the road that lay before them would they still be excited; still be like “happy” children? Would they protest or flee for their lives, never to return and abandon everything he had given to them? Or would they simply drop to their knees in hopeless resignation, unable to move?
He took a few more steps and found himself dropping to his own knees; not in hopelessness but in desperate submission. He could already feel the physical pain that awaited him. His spirit was already suffering from the separation that was to come. And his soul felt like it was being crushed under the burden he was being asked to bear. Suddenly, in this painful “aloneness” he lifted his eyes, his hands, and, in truth, his entire being toward heaven and asked the question that had been gnawing at him for hours, “Is there any other way?” There was no answer; he really hadn’t expected one. He already knew the answer, He knew it as surely as the sun would rise tomorrow and his sun would begin to set tonight. He managed to wrestle his emotions to their knees as he looked back up with the same resolve and determination that had carried him these last three years and said, “We’ll do it your way.” Suddenly, an unexpected peace began to burrow its way through the fear and pain. It was a presence; like when a loved one enters a room and you feel her before you see her. He stood and turned toward the “path” that waited for him.
His friends would have fallen asleep by now he knew. “Just like children,” he smiled. Then the thought of who marched toward him as they slumbered sobered him. And the thought of who led them saddened him more than he expected. This one was a follower who never quite followed, a disciple who couldn’t quite be taught, a companion who never allowed himself to become a friend. Yet, still he had wanted this wayward son to surrender to the love, even as he knew in his heart that he had a darker role to play. And now that that moment of dark destiny was about to arrive, he only felt sadness for him. He was not upset with his failure to understand the message or his foolish attempts to dip into their “treasury” undetected. He was not even angry at the betrayal. He was just sad for this broken, deluded brother. This brother who would try to put an end to what he had been deceived into believing was a worthless and unproductive dream. And he would do it with a kiss…for a pouch of silver; never knowing, until it was too late, that he had betrayed himself and had been paid for his own destruction.
When he reached his friends he indeed found them all sleeping. “Like children,” he smiled to himself. Then he saw the torches and heard the muffled voices. He took a deep breath and turned to face what he knew would be a violent end. But he also knew it would be an end that wasn’t going to last. He found he was indeed filled with a power and strength that had come, as he had hoped, from his visit to this place. As the torches grew near, he couldn’t help but smile just a bit as the truth of what was about to take place filled him.