TITLE: Allegory of Two Roads - A modern dilemma 14/08/17
By Elaine Hemingway
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All was going well until I came to the crossroads. There had been no warning signs so which way to choose? Easy, the one that was most travelled would be safer. The narrower one was uphill and full of rocks and cracks, looking in need of repair. It had some attractive plants growing through the fissures, reaching up to the sun which shone with a strange glow onto the pitfalls, like a warning. It curved gently so I couldn’t see very far, but the choice wasn’t conscious – I took the wide road. It was full of beauty, people hurrying to and fro on the sidewalks, looking busy and fulfilled.
I stopped at one of the buildings and entered through the glass doors. I was met by an angelic looking person who welcomed me and made me feel instantly at ease. “Do come in and make yourself comfortable” was the greeting given with a smile and the offer of a long, cool, refreshing drink.
I was guided to a comfortable chair where I sat, lulled into complete relaxation, and considered my options. They were laid out before me on a small screen, inviting me to personalise my likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams. There was an amazing choice, varying from sport which ranged from team to individual; from muscle building to sexual satisfaction and from gentle to adrenaline pumping. There was a selection of entertainment, some innocent looking while other types shocked my sensibilities but I had to confess to some curiosity. I was surprised to see advertisements for church fellowship amongst other offers to films and comedy shows. Deciding to move on and explore some of the opportunities further I bade farewell and returned to the wide road.
A little way along, down a small cul-de-sac some children were playing. There appeared to be some disagreement amongst them, and one small fellow was being bullied into an agreement with the rest of them. But he was adamant. He didn’t want to play their game. One gave him a hefty smack, and shouted, “But everyone does it!”
“I’m not everybody,” was his reply, whereupon they set upon him, punching and biting, kicking and scratching. I watched in horror and considered going to his aid, but before I could make a move he managed to get away. I watched him hobble back up the road, and he disappeared in the direction of the narrow road. I wonder if he will fare any better there, I thought as I watched until he was out of sight.
Moving on I came to a large park, full of fairground type attractions. Everything I ever wanted to see and do was brought to mind, as if I was a child at the circus, wanting to be able to join in and live a glamorous life. I was at a loss as to where to turn first until I felt a hand on my arm and turned to see a handsome gentleman smiling down at me from a majestic height. “You are looking a little lost,” he said with a devastating smile that made my knees feel weak and my eyes glaze from the sight of him. “There’s so much to see,” I stammered. “It’s very confusing and also very tempting. I almost want to try everything.”
“Well, why not?” he murmured seductively. “It’s like eating an elephant. You start with one bite at a time. Come, let me show you around.”
His hand on my arm burned so that I was almost overcome with desire as he guided me to one of the marquees on the outskirts of the park. We entered to the sound of wild music that entered my soul with its hypnotic beat, and I watched women writhing in sensual dancing while a song throbbed out with words of blasphemy and seduction. I looked down at my legs, tapping my feet to the rhythmic beat and wondered who I was. How had I lost myself in this maze of mysticism? I thought I was a woman but now I was reacting like a man.
The mystery Adonis had disappeared and a girl was gripping my shoulder, edging me into a slow seductive dance. I began to writhe like a snake, and a huge python writhed with me. Frantically, as it threatened to envelop me, I turned and ran, out into the broad street and back up the popular road until at last, I saw the narrow road ahead of me, the pitted surface looking more attractive than the broad paving of the wide road. As I approached a voice called me back saying, “Come, and see the delights of modern living. There is no fear of condemnation here – anything goes – you are your own key to success. Come, and feel the freedom of your own fantasies.”
I kept running, my breath burning in my chest, my heart thumping in a rhythmic beat of panic, threatening to burst out of my throat. Was I having a heart attack? I wondered, terror propelling me the last few steps to the narrow road.
At last, a peace, and another voice. “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”
I looked around. The flowers that had been growing through the fissures in the road were now blooming more luxuriantly; the sky above was bluer and somehow, though there were still pebbles under my feet and the road was still uphill, I felt a sense of reconciliation and I remembered a verse that had once challenged my heart, but had been ignored. “You are mine! I have called you by name. I am the Good Shepherd and I will lead you to still waters and pleasant pastures. The way may be rocky but the destination worth waiting for.”
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