There and Back

Along the dank stones lining the subterranean tunnel that

weeps with rancid moisture even in the dry season, he

walks, stooped over, shivering, not from chill but from

fear of unknown landings. Soft cries of creatures long

dead drift in the thick air, mixed with cries of earth

herself, enclosed, choked with men’s greed …

groaning, groaning, all creation groaning.

To brace himself against the fearful shivers, he

pulls layers of ragged coats about himself, and

hides frostbitten fingers against his skin. He has

been walking these underground tunnels for 

decades, living on rat meat and sipping the moisture from 

ceilings of rock, which smell less fetid. He has not seen

daylight since he was a boy hiding in the cornfields.

When was it that he heard the song, so sweet,

so ethereal, so unique, so deceiving? Evil muses, who,

unlike their siren sisters, lure with lies not truth. Like a

moth to flame, he trudges toward the music, only to

slip on ancient worn alga-coated stone and 

plummet untrammeled into lightless depths,

down, down, always falling, never ending

This pit has no bottom, no terminal. Alone and

sliding, ever slipping, uncontrollably down, to 

where manticore, leviathan, and basilisk

writhe in frozen chains of fire, snarling,

snapping at any who would slide past,

gobbling up all but the most slippery. He could

almost wish to end his misery in their guts.

He closed his eyes and was at once transported to

airless space where the eerie silence made him

yearn for the screams of the abyss. Drifting,

drifting, untethered, utterly alone, into

absolute blackness, rip in time, a hole in space,

from which not even gravity can escape, where

molecules fly apart and reconfigure as slime.

Into the black hole he plunged, yet strangely

still intact, able to gaze in horrifying wonder at

the blast furnaces on either side that coughed and

belched as they digested their prey, and seemed to

laugh with hideous glee as he flew by.

Thunderous roars seemed to yell,

“Soon we feast on you!”

Up ahead – a brilliant light, blinding, white with

blue tint, impossible to look at directly, when,

out from the light, a Figure, glorious, magnificent,

more terrifying than anything he had yet seen,

standing, blocking the way. Propelled at the 

speed of light, he shot towards the figure, when

all began to shift and swirl, a mosaic of colors

Now, he was tumbling over and over, softly,

gently, as a baker kneads the dough. A billion

billion planets sang a low whale song, vibrations

reverberating across space-time in a light-show of

whirling beauty. He was swimming along a

cosmic reef kissed by winged and finned

creatures each with multiple pastel heads.

The music of the spheres rose to a crescendo, and

almost sang, “Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!”

And then, all was still.

The blinding Figure disrobed the light and walked toward him,

Eyes moist and kind, as he, with tender caress, whispered,

“Son.” And, with a soft kiss, 

He was home by the hearth with a hot cup of ale and his dog at his feet.

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on January 30, 2023, in Life Coaching, Poetry, Spiritual Direction. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Mary Hatzenbehler

    A lifetime of bondage to corruption? Several rings of the inferno? Rescued from Hades by a Savior? Home & hearth?


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