You’re in a forest.

You’ve been travelling for what feels like forever. Your fellowship is with the birds flitting back and forth through the trees, singing sweetly hour-by-hour. The climate changes day-by-day, but you feel as though you’re prepared to weather anything. The bird songs warm your heart.

You’re in this forest out of necessity, not out of desire. If it were up to you, you’d have arrived at your destination at the outset of your journey, avoiding the natural dangers and pitfalls of forging through the forest. But it’s not up to you, so you take solace in the sweet twitter of the birds.

You’ve stopped for rest now, wiping the sweat from your forehead with the back of your hand. You don’t know how much further you need to go, but you sit and long for the rest and joy of arriving.

You’re going home for the first time.

As you refresh yourself with cool water and a morsel of bread, you suddenly feel as though something is wrong. You stand and look around, peering into the forest. You pat yourself down to make sure you haven’t lost any of your gear. You look at your map and compass to make sure you haven’t lost your way. Everything seems to be OK. Nothing appears to be out of place. Yet a lingering sense of panic and urgency scratches at the edge of your thoughts. Something is wrong.

As you stand there feeling confused and alert, you suddenly feel the silence around you. A gentle breeze blows through the trees, but there is no other sound. The birds are no longer singing. That is what disturbs your thoughts. The companions you’ve grown so accustomed to, and in some small way, began to love, seemed to have vanished.

You didn’t even notice.

As your recognition of the situation becomes complete, another more urgent thought races to your mind; your heart begins to pound in your chest. You look around once again, this time searching for danger. Why did the birds stop singing?

As you continue to survey your surroundings, one trembling thought bursts through your mind so suddenly you find yourself muttering it quietly to yourself.

“What am I not seeing? What’s wrong?”