Fifty years ago, Bruce and I got lost in the woods behind my house. Disorientation, panic, confusion; everything being strange, senses and our trust in them began to fail. There is nothing like being well and truly lost-especially at the age of seven. An hour of brush popping for a couple of little boys makes a fine prelude to the concept of an eternity without Hope.
Wait!…I saw a building! The inside of a garage- MY garage. There is Dads ladder- there is my bat- there is the sack of Ava and Midges Dog Chow. Right through those branches is safety, security… salvation. Salvation from the agony of life devoid of every comfort and consolation.
Now, convincing Bruce of this discovery puts a whole new perspective on the task of relating Good News. I found the way, he had not; will he accept the truth coming from another? He had been in my house as much as any best friend would; but while familiar with it, he was not so intimate with the details which made it distinct from all other homes. Overall impressions are sometimes more like unfocused assumptions. Without the intimacy that comes from knowledge most ideas and concepts become less precious- more mundane , easier to accept and reclassify as bin run sameness.
My home was precious to me. I knew it and valued it above all others. Though salvation to us both in this instance, Bruce made two quick decisions that changed the course of his life. First he decided he did not recognize my home. Secondly he decided not to trust my judgment that it indeed was my home.
A third decision was jointly made, and haunts me down to this very day. He was beside me in a rising panic as I shouted in triumph that we were saved; all he said was, “NO!”- he was turned around and convinced that safety led in the opposite direction. So convinced in fact , that he even refused to come any closer and inspect the situation more clearly. He became ever more sure of a monumental mistake on my part.
Each and every argument has been the same since the Serpent and Eve. Both sides are certain, while only one is correct. In an instant we decided our paths– in the next we acted- our bonds of friendship did not withstand the decision before us. I saw Salvation, and gestured toward it; he did not see it, nor would he trust the judgment of his most intimate friend. Bruce disappeared back into the brush.
The next moment is still as vivid now as it was 50 years ago; “What now? Was I to follow my friend back into danger and isolation, or do I go home to the real and tangible sanctuary that for a little boy represents every aspect of true Salvation.
Never losing sight of what was certain I fairly stormed to the sure safety of home… MY home! The relief and joy while immense began to be tempered by something new; the frenzied yells of my friend receding ever more quietly as he plunged ever deeper into the opposing direction. That last decision we both made- to go our own separate ways based upon our own reasons in the short intense argument at the edge of the woods resulted in one irrevocable reality.
He was lost; I was found.