The man stepped to the edge of the stream, holding the wire notebook in his hand. His thumb drummed nervously against the glossy red cover. Leaning over the water, he spied his reflection: “No, not in the mood to write, can’t write, not now,” as his lips cracked. He threw his book on the ground. The other men would be journaling – recounting memories and penning insights and writing poems and such – but not him. No, he had other business here, at the water’s edge.
The man caught his reflection again. Tears as big as boulders rolled down his cheeks. He buried his face in his hands as thunder peeled from within his soul: “Why me? Why me? Oh God, why!” And just as quickly as the tears came, anger shot throughout his being – he could feel the fire and it was hot. He grabbed a rock and chucked it hard against a tree on the stream’s other side. It bounced off the tree and split in half. Then he grabbed another rock, this one bigger than the one to slay Goliath, drew back his arm and fired. He repeated this again and again and again until finally he collapsed to the ground in exhaustion.
The man returned to sobbing, his dirty hands cupping his face, which was now drenched with sweat and tears: he had not stepped into the water, but he was nonetheless soaked. With each groan, his body convulsed until there was no air or no sound coming from his lungs: this was taking his breath away. He changed courses. The man’s arms still tired, he paced up and down the side of the stream like a lion waiting for his meal. He huffed and stomped and spat and kicked until, once again, he saw his reflection.
Only this time, instead of a man, he saw a boy. A boy with a red cap. And the boy said to the man, “Thank you, sir, for crying for me and for getting angry. I haven’t been able to do that.”
And the man said, “You’re welcome, boy. I’ll be strong for you. I’m not alone.” And tears returned to the man’s face.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.”
We are not alone at the water’s edge.