I stand at the front of a fence with a sign that reads “No Trespassing.” This fence is the only thing holding me back from the task I have been entrusted with. How else will I get this done if I don’t trespass?
* * *
Three miles from my house is a small dirt road that winds over a small hill, then disappears. I have no idea where the road leads. I have never seen anyone traveling it. I was perfectly comfortable not ever finding out the origin or purpose of the road. That was before I met Maddy.
* * *
My chaplain rotation complete, I am waiting at the elevator when I hear a soft female voice: “Is anyone there?” I look around. The nurse’s station is empty. I look down the hall. Only one door is open. Maybe this person needs something. I knock on the door, and I’m greeted by a dark room lit only with small lights above the bed. I introduce myself and ask if I can pull up a chair and visit. She’s blind. I see her sitting straight on the hospital bed, a smile on her face. She tells me I don’t sound like a doctor. We talk for a while.
Maddy used to live close by. She and her brother grew up on a big ranch with lots of animals. She tells me that the last time she saw her brother was the day she left to attend college in Mississippi. She was the first in her family to attend college. Maddy became a teacher and never returned to Texas.
When her parents died, Maddy’s brother, James, took care of all the arrangements. “So many bad things happened in that house. I said I would never come back. But here I am, dying slowly, losing my vision, wondering if my brother can help. Nobody helped us.” She has forgiven those who hurt her and seeks reunion with her brother. Belongings packed, she could not board a plane alone because of her poor eyesight. Once in Texas, she was brought to the hospital.
The room is quiet. As we pray together I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. God has not forgotten Maddy. There may be something to be done. I ask her where her family home is. The address is three miles from my home.
* * *
There is no way around the fence. I throw a couple rocks at the fence. No electricity. I throw my purse over and begin to climb. On the other side I walk down a small hill. There is the road I always see! I follow the road; see a beautiful house, animals grazing. Just as I stand observing the view I hear noises, the sound of hooves, and there he is, a gentleman on a horse.
“The sign says ‘No Trespassing,’ ma’am.”
* * *
A half hour later James and I are talking. I have told him about Maddy, and he has arranged to bring her home tomorrow. Home. James has three sons and a wife Maddy has never met. As the silence catches up to us, I have to ask: “Tell me about the road. I see part of it from the highway.” My voice trails off as I see James take off his hat and wipe away a tear.
It was their road. Living with alcoholic parents, James and Maddy would run through the then tall grass, leaving the house, hiding until the emotional storm subsided. They laid the tracks that became the road.
“You know, they say there’s a road to heaven, to God,” he says. “Well, we sure tried to find it.” He points at the winding road around the ranch. “That’s the road.”
That’s the road.
* * *
“You’re welcome here,” says James as he drives me back around the ranch to my vehicle. I think he might prefer I not jump the fence again.
“No need to jump the fence,” he says. “But when it comes to me, my family, God using you to bring my sister, doing His work, listening to His voice—well, feel free to trespass.”