“He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.” Proverbs 10: 9
The grassy field adorned with purple clover, surrounded Joel’s raven black head as he lay upon their bed of ease and comfort. “What a delightful spot.” Joel mused in his heart as he lounged among the carefree clovers. Just as he was beginning to feel somewhat secure and without reservation in the deception he had created within his carnal mind, a loud crashing sound occurred and startled him to instant sobriety. “What the……..”
Hardly being able to blurt out his cursing, Joel watched fearfully as great bolts of thunder and lightning began to crash around him and beat vehemently upon his head. The wind which suddenly occurred, as if out of nowhere, blew with such a force that it violently picked up the traveler of the wide road from off of his feet and flung him face down into the dirt of his debauchery. Unable to stand because of the winds of adversity which beat so heavily upon him, Joel lay in despair, crushed beneath the trials of life.
After a time, Joel slowly picked himself up from off of the hard ground and reeling to and fro like a drunk man he tried once again to continue on in his journey of self-seeking. After stumbling and groping for something to hold onto through the insecurities of life, the traveler of the wide road managed to cling in desperation to a superficial branch of worldly wisdom. “I am safe at last!” he sighed with relief, “Now where shall I go from here?”
Following rebelliously the crooked path of the wayward, the traveler of the wide road walked mile after mile in stubborn determination, until he came to another field over ridden with rambling Balaam bushes. Since the road that he was traveling on led through the bushes, Joel braved his way through the field to get to the other side. Trying with a ruthless persistence to pull the traveler of the wide road into their clutches, the rambling Balaam bushes lashed out tenaciously at Joel’s flesh. Frustration and fatigue brow beat the traveler of the wide road as he continued through the briars in spite of the weakness of his wounded flesh.
Looking intensely into the affairs of this life, Joel saw through the thicket of rambling Balaam bushes a glimmering object, a rare jewel with faucets that danced brilliantly in the sun’s rays. To his amazement, Joel saw cashmere blue sapphires intertwined within the thorns of the bushes. Imbedded in the rambling Balaam bushes were also sparkling diamonds with intense light and deep burgundy rubies that lay seductively in the bed of spiky foliage.
Burning with covetous desire, the traveler of the wide road tried to put his hands into the nesting place of the worldly treasures and by trying to bring them into his bosom he was pierced by the thorny spikes with many sorrows. No matter how hard that Joel tried to reach the covetous desires of his heart, he failed miserably to bring the jewels into his possession. The traveler of the wide road soon realized that he had been striving endlessly in the thorny bed of covetous desire without any profit and after a very long time he finally gave up on that worldly pursuit which was really getting him no where anyway.
Sadly, Joel turned his face away from striving for that which has no good end and began battling fiercely with the deadly spikes of the rambling Balaam bushes. The traveler of the wide road got quite torn up and after a tremendous struggle he finally managed to get free. Great welts started to swell up from the wounds in his flesh and in bitterness of soul, Joel continued to press onward in order to reach his heart’s longing, the pleasures of this life.
Taking another crooked path led Joel to a clearing wherein lay another false tranquil habitation. With outstretched arms a deep sensual valley beckoned to the traveler of the wide road with its false peace, bidding him to come and rest his weary heart among its scenic beauty.
A lush green carpet of grass-covered the valley and springing up from that velvet blanket grew wild crocuses with scarlet tunics and smiling daisies which welcomed the traveler of the wide road with their friendly warmth and happy salutations. The air Joel breathed in this valley seemed peaceful and sweet. He then began to relax in the false security by stretching out his long legs to rest in the blindness of this present world, under a large willow tree. Putting his trust in the strength and vitality of the willow tree’s sturdy trunk the traveler of the wide road took refuge from the heat of the day at the foot of the tree whose roots went down deep into the hard dark ground.
Joel watched with his mind veiled to the truth, the many different kinds of birds that were singing their chanting melodies from high perched branches. He smelled with his heart hardened by the cares of this life, the flowers and the grass until contented with self-absorption he nodded off into a deep slumber of more fanciful dreams.
As Joel slept on in his false tranquility, he was unaware that his life was as a vapour, here today but gone tomorrow. It was not until he was awakened by the sorrow of this world that he began to realize he had been deceived into thinking that all was well on the wide road.
“Woe, woe, woe,’’ the baritone voice of the willow tree, under which Joel slept, groaned with sorrow. Startled to alertness the traveler of the wide road rubbed the sleep from his eyes and looked up in amazement. He found that the willow tree in great big sobs was crying tears which had withered the grass into a dingy looking yellow and faded the beauty of the flowers beneath.
“Woe, woe, woe,” the tree moaned. “Woe, woe, woe, there is no rest for the wicked.”
The bending branches from the willow tree reached out pleadingly to the traveler of the wide road and beckoned him to turn from his wicked ways. “All day long his hand stretches out to you,” The willow tree continued to cry in earnest, “and still you will not hear.”
Joel sprang to his feet in a terrible fright and tried to run away from the voice of worldly sorrow but the willow tree held him fast. “You strive and you fight but you have not.” The willow tree moaned and cried. “You desire and you covet but there is no profit. Why oh why do you want to die traveler of the wide road?”
Striving desperately to get away from the grip of the strong-arm that held him tightly, Joel bellowed in a loud voice. “Let go of me. You can’t hold me here.”
“You are doomed. Doomed, doomed, doomed!” The willow tree shook the traveler of the wide road until he almost lost consciousness. “Your judgment is sure, traveler of the wide road.”
Lying limp as a rag doll in the arms of the sobbing willow tree and in utter helplessness, Joel cried out in desperation “Some one please save me from this terrible death!”
It was at the exact moment of Joel’s self abandonment that it began to rain. Soft drops fell from the sky at first with gentleness and tender mercy landing one by one upon Joel’s dark countenance as he lay near death in the grip of the willow tree. Mercy called to him with her sweet voice. “Turn from your wicked ways and be saved!” she cried.
“Help me, for I am perishing!” the traveler of the wide road moaned with worldly sorrow.
Slowly the willow tree began to loosen its grip for Mercy always triumphs over judgment. Then it began to rain harder, in swift soft drops upon the head of the traveler of the wide road, for where sin abounded so much more did grace abound.
The drops of cool refreshing rain soon began to fall in torrents and it continued to rain and to rain over Joel’s flesh until finally out of self perseverance he jumped up and began to run away from the rain, which had tried to awaken the traveler of the wide road’s heart. Joel ran with all his might down the darkness of this present world into the dead of night.
Walking for miles Joel sought for a place to rest his weary head but he could not find any. He walked and he walked until his feet could walk no more. Down one crooked path and into another, Joel walked down the wide road, until leanness formed its way into his soul. Eventually he became so famished that a great rumbling in the pit of Joel’s stomach occurred in which no delightful fare of this present world was able to satiate.
It was then that Joel began to realize just how dangerous the wide road could be and in particular to an inexperienced traveler like himself. With cautious steps Joel moved away from the crooked path. Rather than finding a place of security he ended up in an even deadlier way; a way which seemed right in his own eyes. Walking over stumbling stones of ambitious and prideful endeavours, the traveler of the wide road eventually arrived at the village of Magniloquent which was adorned with much self-exaltation and vain glory.
Singing its own praises, Magniloquent, displayed its deeds to all who passed them by and made public spectacles to anyone who would listen. This caused a lot of hubbub on the wide road. Situated on a very high and lofty pinnacle Magniloquent could be heard from afar like sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Joel was drawn by the noise, to venture into Magniloquent, wherein dwelt high browed folk who lived in stately manors.
These high browed folk lived at ease in the cares of this life congregating with the sycophant which drew many disciples after them. Joel soon began to hobnob in Magniloquent with the stiff-necked and to dine at their opulent tables laden with delicious dainties, strange fruit and strong wine. He engaged whole heartily in worldly conversation with the stiff upper lips and frequented the pompous gatherings of the Magniloquent, societal associations.
“We are very pleased with ourselves!” said Mrs. Do-right to Joel as he puffed out his chest, walking among the proud, in his new suit which he had purchased in a prestigious shop in the society of Magniloquent. “Our grandiose municipality is certainly bringing a new reputation to the wide road, with our extravagant lifestyle. We do hope, traveler, that you will join our wonderful Magniloquent, society. Be sure to follow the Magniloquent, bandwagon as it moves to and fro in our social standing and you will fare very well, traveler.”
The altitude was very high in Magniloquent which made Joel’s nose pinch up tight and his eyes look down on all that moved beneath him. With great pride Joel frequented many of Magniloquent’s places of honour and it wasn’t until the traveler of the wide road took a step out-of-place that he became perceptively aware of the large gap between the Magniloquent privileged few and the unfortunate who lived on the other side of the track. Joel then took a step back to examine his way.
It all started when Joel forgot to put his white carnation in his lapel at a banquet in honour of Mrs. Do-right who was retiring from her office as chair person for the Grandiose Society of Magniloquent. The traveler of the wide road soon began to feel icy glares accompanying him at his every move.
When rolling eyes and whispered voices began to make him feel exceedingly uncomfortable, Joel soon realized with much disappointment, that in Magniloquent; mistakes, failures, weakness, and unfortunate events could carry the price of displeasure. One could easily find himself being put on the outside of the circle where the disapproval of Magniloquent could engulf the entire person, gobbling up all their personal dignity.
The traveler of the wide road decided after that experience to leave off the way of vainglory and continue instead to follow a well beaten path on the wide road until it turned into another crooked way which twisted and turned in one direction and then the other. To Joel’s disconcertion that crooked path eventually led him from the pinnacle of Magniloquent into a slippery slope in which he would fall straight down into another false way.
Arriving in the country side, Joel came across a stately manor surrounded by several gardens. There was a white garden with lilies, camellias, and white lilacs and a rose garden with climbing roses on trellises, as well as shrub roses growing along curved walkways and along high arches.
There were also floribunda nestled in cosy beds which gave off an enticing aroma along the path that led up to the manor door. As Joel stopped to admire the well manicured landscape of the estate, he was surprised to hear a voice come forth from an intercom that was attached to the entrance of a high security gate, surrounding the country manor.
“Come in, come in, dear fellow. I have been expecting you,” a very loud and boisterous voice beckoned to the traveler of the wide road from the intercom. “It is almost time for dinner and we are most exited to hear of your adventures down the wide road.”
“I think sir, that you must have made a mistake.” Joel answered nervously through the intercom feeling somehow that he was intruding where he did not belong. “You see I was just passing by.”
“You are a traveler of the wide road are you not?” the voice asked with a nasal accent.
“Yes I am but….” Joel found to his surprise that he was suddenly cut off by the sound of a buzzer signaling the wide gate to open. Shrugging his shoulders the traveler of the wide road began to follow the cobble stoned pathway that led up to the house. Bright red bricks inlaid perfectly into the ground led Joel through another garden with elegant roses growing admiringly on green shrubs; Amber flush, Bourbon blooms, Angel face, Burundians, Brilliant pinks, all were blooming profusely in high beds around the front of the manor and crawling up the trestles of the walls were red, white and yellow roses.
The sight of their lovely pedals prompted Joel to reach out and touch one. Sniffing the aroma of the rose made Joel gasp. Instead of smelling the familiar sweet fragrance, he found to his dismay that the smell coming up into his nostrils was devastatingly horrible. What can only be described as part ragweed and part ammonia filled Joel’s nasal passages, turning his face a deep shade of green. He began to cough and to gasp for breath while his watered eyes searched desperately to find something to lean upon.
Reaching randomly for the nearest solid object with his watering eyes that stung like the bite of a hornet, Joel found nothing on which to put his flaying hands. Finally in desperation he fell face down upon the superbly manicured lawn and grasped the fresh green grass between his fingers. Holding on for dear life, Joel breathed in and out with short rasps until the oxygen finally penetrated his lungs, bringing the relief he so desperately needed.
The beauty of the roses on the estate had captivated the passionate desire of the traveler of the wide road’s eyes and wanting ever so much to hold them dear to himself he had almost lost his senses. Embarrassed by his lack of self-control, Joel found himself in a position that the supercilious in this present world find their selves in sooner or later, and all he could do was humbly lift himself up and continue on.