I have a guest voice for you today. I think you’ll like what she has to say.

Straight and narrow – deep and wide

by Val Gonzalez

The slender, stony track, perilously steep, led to a constricted gate in a rock wall. My shins were bruised, my knees skinned, my entire attention focused on each step.

I awoke with a permeating revelation. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I, too, am a recovering fundamentalist. I was taught that following Jesus meant following all the rules. Well-schooled in the King James Version, I was instructed not to question. The result of this training has been a lifetime of fear. Because, you see, I have questioned. I have doubted. I have sinned in varying magnitudes setting off minor tremors and the occasional major seism.

In the midst of such a temblor and the accompanying spiritual crisis, I had a revelatory dream in which I was climbing a mountain. In that vision, I was scrambling boulders to the left of the path, on the very edge of the precipice, trying to keep up with my spiritual teacher. On the far right, there was a broad, smooth road that hugged the slope, full of travelers. When, finally, my teacher paused, I called, “why are you so close to the edge?” Smiling, he waved his arm toward the abyss. I had been so intent on the trek, I’d only been minding my steps while he was skipping like an antelope. I had missed what was now splendidly obvious. “Unless you get close to the edge, you’ll miss the view.”

I’ve explored many faiths and, at times, practiced none at all, but I’ve decided to follow Jesus. Now, due to my track record and complementary suffering, I think I’m something of an expert: Rules don’t always reflect the respect, mercy and loving kindness at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. So, my spiritual journey is an individual journey. The straight gate and narrow path won’t allow the security of the herd. It’s a lonely, unsure way. It’s messy; impossible to navigate without stumbles and setbacks.

But, I aim to stay as close to the edge as possible. Because, when I breathe into my fear, and allow courage to swell and love to win, boulder-skipping becomes easier, compassion simpler, and, honestly, that view! It’s heavenly.

Val Gonzalez is the Executive Director of Terra Studios. I met Val at a workshop at the Village Writing School in Eureka Springs . Check out Val’s site at www.terrastudios.com.