The Parable of the Two Travellers

Once upon a time two old men met at a roadside rest-stop. Many years earlier they had been close friends, but had lost touch with each other a long time ago. In fact both of them had so much on their minds, they didn't recognise each other at first, even though they had stood next to each other in line to buy refreshments.

Of course they sat together, and after a few awkward questions, they just sat in silence, looking at each other and just sharing the pleasantness of each others company. Both of them knew that, for now, the words were not important; each was happy to notice the feelings that were coming up, along with remembrances of past events - some brought smiles to their faces along with a quiet chuckle, others were sad and came with a surprise because of just how much emotional energy they still carried.

There was a crossroads a short way ahead, and it turned out that each was heading in a different direction,, one on business, the other had a family matter to attend to. After they'd rested, they decided to walk on together to the crossroads. By now there was a comfortable familiarity between them and the words flowed smoothly; reminiscences, jokes, family news, there was so much to say, and so little time. They found themselves walking more and more slowly, stopping to turn and face each other to emphasize first one point and then another. Of course they both realised they were reluctant to reach the crossroads where they must part.

But there was a third way; it was a little out of the way for both of them, and not exactly what either had intended, and it would mean arriving a little late at their final destinations, and it was actually a fair bit more arduous for both of them, because of the steepness of the route. And it was a little more dangerous, because of frequent rock slides. As they reached the crossroads they saw warning signs posted, of dangers ahead along that route. And remember, these were old men, so there was not a little fear in their hearts at the extra burdens along this route, and how much energy they would need to find along the way.

The two men stopped at the crossroads and one drew out his flask of water and offered it to his friend so he might drink first, before he tasted its sweetness. They looked at each other, smiling, and then one said: "Shall we?", extending his arm towards the third way; and the second man said: . "Of course!" with a laugh, and then, "Who shall lead first?".

A short while later, if you were there, you would have seen two old men climbing a steep and slippery path, but laughing with an energy beyond their years, and with an easy spring in their step - for they had found in their hearts the hope for what might be, which had overcome the fear and doubts of what could be, and were happy, for today at least.