Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you, I will bless you, and you will be a blessing.”

I did not call the past forward; but suddenly an almost forgotten piece of yesterday was there. It stepped out of the brain’s dark into the half-lit region of my sleeplessness.

The bus was two days from home. Its motor sound wearied me. We arrowed westward. The familiar Iowa landscape with its square fields of corn and hay melded into Nebraska prairie. Soon we were cutting a track across Wyoming’s treeless plains.

Horizon and sky. Horizon and sky. A lonely ache colored my thoughts. Thoughts of home grew within me a profound sense of loneliness.

“What did you think to prove?” The Voice came from somewhere deep within me. “Do you know what you are doing to your mother? Did you see the sorrow in her eyes when she handed you that $30?” The Voice was accusing in tone.

“Shut up! Of course I saw. What do you think these tears mean?” My 18-year-old self was defensive. I hunkered down against the window, letting the pulsing vibrations of the moving bus lull me into a fitful rest.

The Voice again: “What will you do when you get to Salt Lake?”

“I’ll think about it in the night. We don’t get there till morning.”

“She only gave you $30. That won’t buy your fare to Oregon. It won’t buy fare and food. You ought to have asked for more. You’ll have to do something.”

“I’ll hitchhike.”

“You’ve never hitchhiked before,” whispered that spoiling Voice.

“I know. So it will be something new. I can write and tell how it was. It means at least I eat.”

“You wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t been so stubborn to be on your own. You should have gone home after school and put up with things as they are. There are worst stepfathers. Actually, you had it pretty good.”

“Get off my back. Can’t you see I am doing what I have to do? I must find my own way.” It took all the inner courage that youth could muster to keep from falling into the trap of self-pity.

Almost awake now, my aging eyes look into the dark of the room. I get up and look at the moon. Remembering how it was, I think of what is good in me and that which I most admire in myself, knowing that all of it was watered by the tears of that far-off time.

Grudgingly, the Voice murmurs, “At least you had the grit to take some risks.”

Rolling my head back on my pillow, the Voice asks, “Would you like to do it over again for another kind of ending?”

“No, it’s all right the way it is. I am too tired to want to go back. The world is different now. I am not so much at home in this world anymore. It’s what coming.” And my thoughts trailed away into fretful musings, knowing that I have no clue as to what comes next.

“Probably best. Anyway, life has only one direction,” the Voice said, sounding preachy. “We all live in that direction; but not all who live learn the meaning of the journey. It’s mentioned in your Bible. It is called the count of the days toward wisdom. That wisdom is to finally know and do the will of God.”

“And this is to be the shape of my journey?” I asked.

“Yes, there is no other meaning. Your whole life is meant to bring you into relationship with God.”

“Have I counted rightly?”

“You are on the right way,” said the Voice, sounding farther and farther away.

Night unfolded into morning. The 18-year-old self and what that self had become after 62 years fell into restful sleep. The clock sounded out 4 a.m. while the year melded into 2008.

(The format and content of this essay was suggested by a poem by Loren Eiseley.)

The Rev. Merle G. Steva is minister of visitation at the First Parish Church in Saco.