She knows I am following her, and with me comes an end to her way of being. What she fails to realize is; I fear her in the same way she fears me. I know she has something to show me, something I do not want to see. Maybe it is my true self. Perhaps I am not who I know myself to be. Even with my understanding of light and purity, I am afraid I will be horrified by who I am. Even with my faith in a loving God, I am scared to see my soul. Like her, I am afraid everything I know is wrong. I am worried this pure love is just an illusion, and deep inside of me, there is nothing more than what they told me as a child, that I am a disappointment. I hope I am beautiful, but I do not trust I am beautiful. I fear I will meet the monster I believe I might be.
However, even if my fears are valid, even if I am all they have claimed, I want to change. I want to be what I hope exists. So, I climb down the hill to the base of the falls. I climb through trees and brush and deep, dark soil, moist and fed, unlike its brother on the other side of the mountain. I climb down to a pool.
The pond is not large. It rests on a bit of a plateau and is not fed directly by the waterfall. The surface is broken only by spray from the waterfall pouring from a ledge high above my head. I strain to see the top of the fall, but whether it is the growing dark or the sheer distance, I cannot see where it begins or where it ends. From my current position, it seems to drop into some emptiness behind the pool.
Rounding the water, I come near the plateau’s edge and can faintly see the deep crevice into which the waterfall drops. It is black nothingness somewhere far beyond the Earth’s surface.
She is here. I can feel her watching me from behind the falls, hoping I cannot reach her, but her wishes do not bear fruit. As I come to the other side of the pond, I spot a long bridge that crosses the deep ravine, and I move toward it. This time, as I cross, I do not stop for the ceremony I do over almost every river I cross. Typically, when crossing a bridge, I will first face the bridge’s downstream side and release the things I no longer need in my life with the river’s natural flow. After watching them flow away from my experience, I cross the bridge and face the flowing water, asking the Universe to fill my emptiness with its abundance.
I learned the ceremony many years ago from a heroic woman I once knew, and I seldom fail to honor it. However, today, I forgo the ritual and bypass the water I hear raging beneath me. I know there is no need to stop, as I am about to let go of more than I have ever dared to free.
The bridge I travel is to the right of the falls, maybe thirty paces from its visible edge. The spray from the waterfall drenches me as I cross, and my hair hangs heavy, sticking to my face and skull. It meets earth again shortly before meeting another trail. To the right, the trail continues beyond the bridge and along the mountain’s side until it eventually disappears around a bend. To the left, it passes into the falls.
As I step from the bridge, I notice a buck standing down the trail to my right. He is only slightly ahead of where I stand now, and except for an eagle flying overhead, he and I are there alone under the night sky. I know I could easily follow my stag to the right and away from the falls. I could turn toward a journey of my own making, a journey free of responsibility and fear, a journey filled with ignorant bliss. The only problem with this plan is the truth. Even more, than I know I can run, I know I don’t want to run. I want to see what I have never learned. So, I resist the urge to run and turn to my left instead; toward the water, toward her.
As I near the entrance to a cave, I do not see her, but I feel her. I know she stands just behind the water, hair drenched like mine, wild, like an animal, watching and waiting to see what I will do next. I only hesitate for a moment. Knowing the time has come to face whatever future awaits us, I walk behind the falls and into the cave they protect.