“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 8:3
“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 2:11
“Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” -John 3:8
Clods of dirt trickle from my feet off of the cliff, bouncing off the rocks and plunking into the water. I stand at the edge, staring down. My face, pensive.
“So this is it?”
“This is it.” The voice says. No one is around me.
“There’s no fish.”
“There’s no fish down there.”
The voice laughs. “Of course, you can’t see the fish from here. We’re too high up, but you’ll see them. Beautiful fish. You’ll wish you hadn’t wasted so much time debating their existence. Throw yourself off.”
“How?” I stare down at the water. Its cerulean depths ripple in the wind, scintillating with facet reflections of the setting sun. “I just can’t close my eyes and jump.”
“Because Father said not to.”
“Father said not to?” The voice snickers.
“Father said not to.” I turn slowly away. The entire landscape to this point is sand. Desert sand. There is no slope or landmark in sight. Nothing, but desolate, flat dirt.
“You want to.” The voice grows passive. “I know you want to. You know you want to. Throw yourself in. The angels will catch you. At the worst, your father will pull you out before it’s too late.”
“But how do I know…” I stop. This thought paralyzes every bone in my body.
“How do you know what?”
“If I do this, how do I know I’m not one of them?” I point to the rocks where the dead lay dormant. Where they were so suddenly caught and forever set in twisted agony. “What if I’m one of them? This is exactly what they have done. They have unheeded all the warnings and done as they wanted, just as I want to do what I want.” I fight back the growing fear in my heart. “If I do this, it’s because He left me. He left me to my own desires! He left me to my own destruction that I so rightly deserve. Why? Why did He show me what I am, only to leave me in it?”
“What on earth are you talking about?” The voice is incredulous. “So dramatic! Bravo! Encore! My, this father of yours has certainly done a number on you. Given your mind a good twist. Your brain, a good wash. Surely, you don’t believe the rumors! You speak madness. Yes, the bodies. Poor creatures! Those did not plan as you plan. They did not think as you think! Of course, they fell as they fell! They did not aim. Look at how observant you are! But you are aiming, your intentions are grand! Your goals are noble! Jump!”
“No, my intentions are evil.” I stare at my hands. “I know what is wrong and yet I continue to entertain ideas that it is not. This is not how I have been taught. This is not what I was convinced of at the beginning.”
The voice grows hoarse. “Look around you. Where is your father? Have you heard him? He does not call for you.” The voice walks about and leans into my other ear. “Strange. I don’t see him anywhere. Perhaps, perchance, this father of yours is a fiction. A fiction of your fancy and liking. Which is fine, it’s all right if it makes you comfortable. But it isn’t making you comfortable, is it? It’s become more of a nuisance, hasn’t it?” The voice leans away. “If there is such a father, he is a neglectful father. A hateful father. He has abandoned you. Or else why would you be so far away? So far out of his sight and earshot?”
“Because I did this.” I thrust my face into my hands. I feel the tears gather and remorse turns to agony in my throat. “I walked a little at first, then further. I wandered too far-”
“Yes, too far! Too far, indeed. This is not where children go. At least, that’s not what the children propose that they do. If we’re still continuing along this fiction, that is. They never go this far. But you have gone this far. You know why? Because you are not a child, you have no father. There is no father here.”
“I wandered out of earshot. This is why I can’t hear Him.”
“Listen to you! My goodness, you’re so convinced of his existence! Fine, let’s say we examine the facts under this fantasy. Even if you were in earshot, why would he listen to you? What could he possibly tell you to direct you? I’m only assuming if we’re going by the ancient relic: he’s very angry and the way is so treacherous. How? How do you even hope to survive? You’ll only die trying to get back. Trying and failing. And all of this, mind you, is still a supposition. As we’ve pointed out, there is nothing. Look for yourself.”
The sun has set further. The opposite horizon stretches wide, now a gaping mouth filled with shadows cast by nothing.
“Here’s what we do know.” The voice continues. “That the water below sure looks cool and deeply refreshing. It’s been so long. How long have you wandered?”
I ignore the bodies and stare once again into the reverberating waters. “It does look good.”
“It is good. It is the best. And the jump-”
“The fall.” I breathe.
“The jump,” The voice retorts, “Is amazing. It’s like you’re flying. The wind surges through your body. You can back-flip right into the waves. Many have done it. Many can attest to this.”
I smile. The voice sighs. I take a few steps back. The voice is silent in anticipation.
And I begin to run, all seems right. As I near the edge, something catches my eye. A second hail of gravel sprinkles and splashes into the waves as my feet slide to a stop.
Standing on the cliff, chin down, I stare at my clothes. My new clothes. I had forgotten them. They are rippling against my body. They ripple like small waves. Small waves in a great wind. A great wind that has surged out of nowhere and pulls at my body as if to uproot me and carry me away, but it does not. With my attention, it grows tame, gently prodding. I stare in the direction of its path.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” The voice, blind to what I have seen, grows desperate.
“I have to go.”
“What are you talking about?”
“My Father is calling me.”
“You have no father.”
I smile with no reply and begin to leave footprints, chasing the wind.