With a gentle nod and friendly wink from the ride operator, I choked down a breath as I turned my eyes back to the path in front of my car.
Nature's freedom had settled in and around the metal rails in ways that showed the length of time since it was last used...since it had last been travelled upon. The skinny fingers of a brown vine pointed upwards as the fattened arms of bulky trees stood guard, semmingly barring entrance of the train upon which I was now seated.
The motors churned to life...the seat rattled.
Checking my seat belt again for the millionth time, I closed my eyes and tried to steady my drumrolling heartbeat.
The track vibrated with electric life as I turned to once more face the one who seemed to be waiting for my thumbs up.
He smiled as if to say he had all day to wait...
...and I began to cry in the heavy realization that I had no choice about riding, only about how long I sat waiting....only about how long I would prolong my own torture and fear. I was going up because this is the last ride in this park...because it was time to leave this place...it was time to move on with only the memories of the time spent.
This train was the only thing I haven't been on yet...and I am too stubborn to leave without having been on it...and the twinkle in his eye tells me that he not only knows that about me, but he is betting on it.
With a last deep breath, I close my eyes and I lift my hand.
It shakes in time to the rat-a-tat-tat beat of my heart and it feels oddly numb, but I somehow find the ability to raise my thumb....and the car jumps a bit and then begins a slow crawl forward.
The branches and leaves are so thick that they nearly stop the car and his voice whispers up from behind me "You're gonna have to move them."
Seems odd...not that I would have to remove the barriers to this ride, but that I want to.
I reach out to push...to pull...to yank...to unhinder this, my last ride here.
They are stuck...heavy...and uncooperative...but they don't have a choice...they are going to move.
One by one I pull them from the track...
The train inches its way ever upward, steadily thru the bulky curtain of dark hinderances.
The branches are thicker as we move in, but I find that the more I fight...the easier they come down...
...and then, it is done...
The moment's joy hit me as I realized that my hard work and my bloodied hands had paid off. The fear and the tears were not wasted. The stubborn desire to finish this path was used FOR me...and the reward was all that remained.
One look back down the steep track to see him there...the soft smile exchanged for pure excited celebration as he screams out "I am so proud of you! Enjoy the ride!!"
Lifting both of my hands in the air, I whisper back "Oh I will"...and I close my eyes and give myself over to the intense elation in my heart as the car surges downwards.
We are called to forgiveness.
It is the scariest, slowest and most daunting ride that many of us will ever set foot on as most usually it is emotionally challenging, fully undeserved, and totally against everything within us that was torn apart...but I know if God can forgive me for being the person that I am deep down where no one else can see me, then who am I to keep it from those around me?
I rode this ride once as I finished up the park named Betrayal... I spent way too long piddling around this place, but...once the ride was finished, I walked out of the park with my head held high, my heart full of His grace and my hand firmly grasped by the most unexpected of places.
I love you, Krissy.