|The Journey Home|
|A Parable of Life's Journey Home, Perfect for Talks and Lessons|
"And now, ... after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay...." (2 Nephi 31:19)
There was a man named Henry who went on a journey far from his home. Henry traveled far across the world before he found a place that he liked enough to stay. Henry found work, built a house, and ended up staying for many years in the country he was visiting. While in this country Henry made friends and made a good living. He grew to love the people. He owned a store where everyone in town came to do business with him. He attended all of the social events, and was considered to be one of the town's finest citizens.
Henry was happy about everything in his life, except one thing - he missed his home. He missed his parents. He missed his brothers and sisters. One day, Henry decided to return home. He packed some things he would need while traveling. He sold his business to one of his employees. He gave away many things that he could not take with him on the journey. Then Henry set out.
Unfortunately, Henry had been gone for so long that he could not remember the way he came. Henry went to his friends' and asked them if they knew which road would get him home. Some told him to take one road and some told him to take another. A few told him that they had no idea which road to take, but ridiculed him for even wanting to leave where he was. "You make good money and are having fun," they said. "You are an upstanding, well-respected citizen. Why would you leave that to go to a place that you have not been in years? You will be sacrificing a lot to leave right now." Henry thought that he probably was making sacrifices, but he really wanted to go home. Henry walked many miles, asking for directions as he went. Finally, someone said, "Yes, I know the way. I will help you get home."
Henry and his new Companion walked a long way down a dusty road. As they were walking, the Companion told Henry that the boundary of the country Henry wanted to get home to was marked by a gate. The gate opened to a path that would take Henry home. The King of the country had built the gate and the path to help travelers get home without getting lost or injured. The Companion told Henry that once on the path, he must not leave it. "Just set my feet on the path," Henry replied, "and I'll never step off of it."
As the travelers came to the gate, they found it locked. The Companion told Henry "I will gladly open the gate, for the King has given me a key, but you must promise certain things. First, always remember that King of the land maintains this path. While on your journey, you must act as if He were watching at all times. This way you will treat other travelers kindly and help those who need it most."
"Second, you must
stay on the path at all times. I will give you a map that will help you
know where you are and mark waypoints so that you will not get lost. You'll
notice that there are shady areas marked on the map that take you off
the path. They are full of dangers and you can easily get lost in the
woods. Many who do never find their way back."
"Third, I will
walk with you part of the way, then I will be needed elsewhere. Find yourself
a traveling partner. Promise to help each other along the path no matter
what. The journey is longer than you think, and you will need your partner."
are houses for rest at certain points along the way. The King designed
these rest houses for weary travelers to regain their strength and to
get directions in their travels. Attendants at these houses will help
you to find refreshment and provide assistance with your map to help you
on your journey. Stop at the rest houses often. Follow the directions
you are given and your journey will be made easier. If you will promise
to do these things, then I will unlock the gate for you."
Henry was so excited
about going home, he quickly agreed to all of the conditions. As they
began walking along the path, Henry found that there were many others
on the path. Some were walking very quickly, while others were strolling
along. Still others had stopped on the side of the path altogether and
Soon Henry noticed a
nice-looking brunette walking beside him. They began talking and Henry
learned that her name was Ruth. Henry told Ruth of the conditions he had
agreed to before entering through the gate. Ruth replied, "Of course,
everyone on the path has to agree to the same conditions." Henry
asked Ruth to be his partner, and she agreed.
Henry and Ruth walked
for what seemed like years. Some times they were tired of walking and
other times they raced to see who could get to the next rest house first.
One day Henry saw a meadow just off of the path. On the edge of the meadow
there were three large shade trees and what looked like berry bushes.
Henry felt exhausted from walking, and after much debate Ruth tentatively
agreed that they could sit in the shade for just a minute.
As they were sitting,
Henry thought about how good it was to get off of his feet. The longer
he sat, the more he wanted to keep sitting. Ruth was soon ready to continue
on the journey, but Henry pressed for just five more minutes. "Let
me just gather some of these beautiful berries for the walk," he
said, as he started putting berries in his hat. Just then the Companion
that had unlocked the gate for Henry walked by on the path. "Henry,
come back on the path," he called. Henry replied "Sure, in just
a minute." Henry walked farther into the bushes, and then farther
still looking for bigger, juicier berries. After much more than five minutes
Henry found himself scratched from thorns, very thirsty, and worst of
all - lost. He thought, "If I just walk east, then I'll find my way
back." But he didn't know which way was east. He walked in one direction
for a while, then in another. Soon it was dark.
"I can't believe
that I left the map with Ruth," he thought to himself. " Well,
at least I have my berries." Henry picked the biggest berry his hat.
"The juice will relieve my thirst," he thought. He popped the
berry in his mouth, and "YUCK!" The berry was sour. Henry tried
another. "Horrible!" Each time Henry put a berry in his mouth,
he gagged and spit it back out. Every berry he had gathered was bad.
Within a few minutes,
Henry started feeling sick. The little bit of juice that he swallowed
was enough to make his stomach cramp. Slowly, the pain spread from his
stomach into his intestines, Then Henry started feeling bad all over.
It was not long before Henry was sore all over his body, violently vomiting,
and wishing that he were dead. " I would rather die than to live
with this," he thought to himself. Henry was lost in the woods exhausted,
thirsty, and alone. He was afraid that he might die. And had no way of
getting back to his beloved path. The only thing he could do was to lie
in the dark and wait...
Soon the rescuer was
kneeling over Henry with a canteen. "Drink deeply," the man
said. Henry drank until he could drink no more. The more water Henry drank,
the better he began to feel. Henry felt as if the poison from the berries
was being washed right out of his body. Henry felt a surge of energy.
Suddenly, he knew that everything was going to be all right.
As the man helped him
to his feet, Henry looked into his rescuer's face. Their eyes met for
a brief second. "Who are you?" he asked. "How did you know
my name? Or where I was? How did you find me?" In reply the man simply
said, "Come, follow me."
Henry followed the man
through the deepest brush, the darkest parts of the forest. It appeared
that there was no real path to follow; rather, the rescuer seemed to be
clearing a path through thorns and brush for Henry. After a long, exhausting
hike through the forest, Henry found himself facing the path, the Companion,
and his traveling partner, Ruth. "Oh Henry," she cried as he
emerged from the brush, "I thought I'd never see you again!"
She thanked the rescuer for finding Henry and the Companion for staying
with her and helping her during the stressful time. Henry was scratched
and scraped. He was bruised and still weak from the illness. But Henry
was happier at that moment than he had ever been before. Henry ran into
Ruth's arms, and as they embraced, Henry vowed that he would never step
foot off of the path again.
For the remainder of
their days on the path, both Henry and Ruth kept that promise. When either
got tired, the other would help them walk until they got to a rest house.
At these rest houses, they often mailed letters to the King of the land,
thanking Him for having the foresight to build such places. They always
made sure to get the necessary directions, and they always left feeling
energized and ready to continue the journey. No matter what occurred,
they always followed the map strictly. It wasn't much longer when, after
walking to what seemed to be the thousandth hilltop, they came upon the
largest, most beautiful palace they had ever seen.
Henry and Ruth sprinted the last bit of distance to the gate of the palace. They had sent many letters to the King, but both knew that they must personally express gratitude to Him for his role in helping them get home. At the gate, they were announced and shown into the throne room. Upon entering, Henry and Ruth both stopped dead in their tracks. They fell to the floor, speechless. No words of gratitude would suffice, for before them, on a golden throne, with a golden crown encrusted with many jewels, sat the very man who had found Henry in the forest during the darkest part of the night when there was no hope. "Welcome home," said the King. As He extended his hands to raise them from the floor, Henry noticed deep scars in each palm. "My Lord, what happened to your hands?" he asked. The King replied, "The night I found you lost in the woods, my hands and feet were pierced with sharp thorns. The thorns and the pain are now gone, but the wounds remain to help us remember that every soul is of great worth in my kingdom." Tears fell freely as both Henry and Ruth embraced the King who had brought them home to their families, at great sacrifice to himself.
© John W. Edwards, II 2002More Short Stories