The Headlights

The long desert road stretched endlessly to the horizon, following the contour of the gently, low rolling hills, merging into the infinite of nothingness. The evening sun was no longer hot enough to create heat waves that would shimmer over the blacktop of the road, creating vanishing mirages of water puddles in the middle of nowhere. The old beat up silver Ford van I was driving continued to speed off into the dusk.
My friend was sitting in the passenger seat next to me. He was wearing blue jeans, a white t-shirt and sandals. He looked relaxed with his right arm leaning out the side window as the cool evening wind gently tossed about his long, brown, curly hair. Once at a roadside stop, I had asked my friend if he would drive, but he said no, not yet. I wasn’t ready for him to drive. I was tried of driving. I wasn’t sure where we were going, or even how to get there. I thought I knew the way at one point in my life, but events proved me wrong. Somehow I knew that he knew the way.
When we would come upon a crossroad or fork in the road, I would pause and look in his direction, then he would say go this way, or point that way. He never forced his directions. He always waited for me to turn to him.
Evening turned into night and small talk turned into comfortable silence as the sun disappeared over the horizon, pulling behind it across the sky a black blanket covered with billions of brilliant, tiny points of light. Darkness enveloped the desert. Only the headlights of the van pierced the darkness for a short distance ahead. The miles rolled on.
In the stillness of the dark, over the soft hum of the engine, my friend turned to me and broke the silence. He asked, “Do you trust me?”
I instantly nodded in agreement. In the next instant, it occurred to me that maybe he could not see my nod in the soft, warm glow of the dashboard lights. I quickly followed with a simple, “Yes.”
“Do you really trust me?”
“Yes, I do.”
He paused for the briefest of moments. “Are you sure? Do you trust me with your whole heart?”
I could not see his eyes directly, but I knew he was looking at me. A little agitated that he repeated his question for a third time, I replied, “Yes. I’m pretty sure that I do.” I hesitated for moment, “Why do you ask?”
“I would like you to do something,” my friend replied, “but you’ll have to trust me completely. No half measures.”
A small pit of anxiety rose in my stomach and began slowly spreading its poison through out my body. It was robbing me of peace I had found along this journey. Yes, I think I trusted him completely. I had never trusted a friend like him before. He had never really let me down. I wonder what he wants me to do? I stared at the road passing below the headlights for the moment, trying to push the anxiety away. I finally replied, “Okay.”
He said, “I want you to turn the headlights off.”
Did I hear that right?! How would I see where I was going? We would drive right off the road and get suck in the sand and dirt. We could even crash into a rock or something. I don’t know. This is pretty far out there on the trust factor.
I asked, “Did I hear you right? The headlights…off?”
“Yes,” he calmly answered. “I want you to turn the headlights off.”
“While I’m driving?”
“Yes.”
There had to be a good reason for this. “Why?”
“Just because,” he said.
“Mmm?”
“Just because I asked you to,” my friend repeated as matter of factly.
“But how will I see where to go?” I asked, hoping the sudden sense of doubt didn’t show in my voice.
“I will tell you where to go.”
Oh man! What am I getting myself into here? I asked another question, “How will you see where I need to go?”
My friend calmly repeated, “Do you trust me?”
I was taken aback by the request. All I could do was sit there in stunned silence and drive. I stared down at the headlights on the road, the miles rolling by. The desert was dark. No other lights were around except for the stars and the headlights of the van. How would he see? How would I see? This is scary. I searched my heart for any cracks in my trust. I found myself standing at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Do I really trust my friend?
Sensing my emotions, my friend said, “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
After a couple miles of silence, I looked at my friend. I could see his silhouette in the dashboard lights. He was calm and relaxed, at peace in the night.
As I reached for the headlight switch, I said, “Okay. I don’t understand, but I do trust you.”
Darkness enveloped us.
I could see nothing except the pin pricks of starlight in the sky and the rough silhouette of the desert horizon off in the distance. The soft hum of the engine faded into the stillness and quiet, into the darkness of unknowing.
Somehow, I knew all would be well.