I asked if he would make sure not to lead me anywhere too dangerous and if he wouldn’t walk too quickly. I asked if he would wait until I’d thought about it and if I could at the very least build up my courage a bit before we left. He remained silent. I asked where we were going but he only turned around and started down the road.
As I watched him go I became enamored with the way he walked. His gait was sure and peaceful. As he got smaller and further away I began to point him out to people around in the expectation that they would find him as enthralling as I did. I pointed and squinted as I could just make him out down in the distance. A small crowd approached me. “What did he say to you before he left?” they asked me.
“He said to follow him,” I replied with great relish. “And isn’t that just it? That is the answer I’ve been waiting for: someone worth following. When he said it I looked behind me to see if maybe he was talking to someone else. I was so surprised that he actually meant me. It was really quite a privilege and such a powerful thing to watch him go. I wish I’d had a camera.”
“What should we do then?” they asked.
“Well one of us should paint a picture; maybe one of us can make a movie about it. Does anyone think they can preach a sermon or write a book about this?”
A little boy in the crowd who had been inching away from us began to walk slowly down the road in the direction that he had gone. But when his mother noticed she ran after him and grabbed him, demanding to know where he thought he was going.
“I’m going with him,” the boy said.
“No, you can’t,” said his mother. “You don’t know what might be down that road. And did you ever think about what that would do to me? You’re a selfish boy, you know.”
The boy’s father approached them as the rest of us looked on.
“It’s only a phase, dear,” he said to his wife. “He’ll get over it soon enough. He won’t make it a mile before he gets frightened and comes running back. Let him go play.”
At the first easing of his mother’s grip the boy ran down the road. “Wait!” he called to the man. “I’m coming with you!” And then turning back to his parents with great tears collapsing over his face he pleaded with them to come along as well. They declined and he turned and ran down the road.
“I thought he would come back,” said the mother, sounding rather shocked. “He will come back when he gets homesick,” replied the boy’s father.
But I suspect that little boy had always been homesick until that day.