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Archived Story

Facing our own dark forest

Published 2:26pm Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The lonely and defeated knight rode tirelessly through utter darkness to reach his destination. Once a proud and successful knight for the king, he had lost everything. Stripped of his honor, yet keeping his loyalty that he avowed to the crown at the beginning, he still trotted on his trusty warhorse in defeat. He rode toward the destination he had been avoiding, yet somehow he knew it was imminent.

Finally, after a full nights ride, the sun started to rise and his vision became a little more clear. His focus became fixated upon the line of trees before him. The Forest of the Shadows of Death loomed in the distance. Few have entered into them, and even fewer have come out. Til now, every tale that was told about this forest had the same outcome for those that made the unknown voyage. They emerged as better men for going through the Shadows of Death. Reappearing on the other side of the forest meant a re-birth for all that conquered the journey. Everything was returned to them 10 fold. All they must do in order to attain this victory is hold the willingness in their hearts to enter and face what was beyond the dark line of trees.

So goes the story of so many of us facing our dark forests. The toughest part is to stand in the entry of the forest line and decide whether to enter into the journey or stay put. Success or failure are on both sides of the forest. We also know this common life battle to be called “facing our giants.”

(Or facing our El Guapo’s – if there’s any Three Amigos fans out there).

Kids seem to face these battles on a regular basis; it happens to be part of growing up.

I witness my son facing new adventures of his own regularly.

He’s at the point in his little life (9 years old) that growing pains are starting to show. Though on a much smaller scale compared to the hurdles us adults must leap over, they still must be faced just the same in order for growth and maturity to happen.

Whether it’s meeting new kids and making new friends, playing a piano recital for the first time in front of strangers or going kayaking in the Pacolet River without any prior experience, life is a constant classroom for him.

He learns about himself in who he is and who he wants to be as well as who others are and how to get along with them.

He’s a young and brilliant mind that accepts all of this as life’s schoolroom as he willingly treks through the woods to find himself on the other side. These little “chitlins” can certainly be an inspiration if you let them.

Unfortunately many of us (including Mr. macho here) loose sight of the journey as we grow up. The fact that there is no light at the end of the tunnel if we’re not willing to go through it is now a perceived reality. I cannot follow Al Bundy’s lead and sit in front of a TV while life passes by, hoping it will work out.

We have been taught faith without works is dead. Sometimes in order to get to where we want to go, we have to start with the first blind step forward. Nowhere else is this demonstrated better than in the faith of a child.

The knight in the story I began to tell may not really exist, but it does live in the hearts of everyone of us.

That’s why fairy tales such as this grab our attention and pull at our emotional heartstrings. It brings forth a truth that we long to grab ahold of; the truth that we cannot remain where we’re at sometimes. The darkness of the forest calls us for a reason, not to hurt us, but to benefit us and make us better off in the end.

Whether it’s an individual, the nation as a whole, or any number of groups of people, there must first be the confrontation of the shadow of death, before there is the realization of the light of day.

Chris Jakubowicz lives in Columbus with his wife and children. His bi-weekly column will focus on how he and his family are trying to get back to their grassroots. Jakubowicz can be reached by e-mail at cjak32@gmail.com.

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