Synopsis: When abused Much-Afraid decides to leave the Valley Of Humiliation and go with the Shepherd to the High Places, her Fearing relatives are incensed. When she begins her journey, the Fearings vow to bring her back. Will they succeed or will Much-Afraid make it to the High Places?
Based on the beloved book Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard.
Running Time: Approximately 1 hour
Play Type: Allegory
Cost: Free. To be used for the glory of God.
Read the Complete play below!
Dear Lord, can you help me?
I’m pained, battered, and marred.
My life is like broken glass.
Can you put me back together?
Shepherd, can you help me?
I am lost in a world that is dark.
Full of fear, hatred, and pride.
Can you get me out of here?
My God, can you help me?
I am chained by fear and dread.
I am weary and lost.
Can you break these chains?
I want so much to leave, to be free, and safe.
But can I?
/Can you help me?/repeat 3 times
[Early medieval. Lights up. Much-Afraid enters and sings Much-Afraid’s song. Lights down. At Aunt Dismal’s house. Aunt Dismal is arranging bowls. Lights up. Enter Spiteful and Gloomy.]
Spiteful: Mom, what are we having for dinner?
Aunt Dismal: Soup and bread. Now be quiet, Spiteful, and let me finish or you won’t get any dinner or my name isn’t Dismal.
Gloomy: That is if it doesn’t burn. It usually does and then we are left starving until mother doesn’t burn something else.
Spiteful: Oh, Gloomy! You always think that the worst will happen.
Gloomy: That’s because it usually does.
Spiteful: [Raising her voice] Oh, would you stop…
Aunt Dismal: [Interrupting in an irritated voice] Would you two go find something to do until I can finish dinner? You make me go mad with all your bickering.
Spiteful: See you’re getting us into trouble.
Gloomy: Everyone always blames me for everything.
Aunt Dismal: Be quiet both of you.
[Gloomy and Spiteful roll their eyes. Enter Craven]
Craven: That girl, how long will it take for her to become my wife?
[They are all gathered around the table. Dismal is making dinner.]
Aunt Dismal: Slow down there, Craven Fear and tell me what happened.
Craven: It’s Much-Afraid. I’ve asked her to marry me, and she refused! I told her that you and the whole Fearing clan approve. She still says no.
Aunt Dismal: Of all the nerve! After all we have done for her! You would think that she would be more grateful. Don’t you worry, dear. I will call a family council and we will tell Much-Afraid what is what.
Spiteful: Maybe if you didn’t punch her every time you see her, she would listen to you.
Gloomy: Bother the whole thing. I don’t think she would marry you no matter how you asked.
Craven: [Makes a fist] Stop it you two or I’ll…
Aunt Dismal: [Trying to separate her children] Stop it all of you or no one will get any soup tonight. After all I do for you children. All you seem to do is argue.
Spiteful: See, you’re getting us in trouble.
Craven: I’m getting you in trouble? Oh, if I ever get my hands on you…
Gloomy: Everyone is always fighting. No one cares…Oh.
Spiteful: Be quiet, Gloomy. Anyway, where is Much-Afraid?
Craven: Probably with the Shepherd.
Aunt Dismal: I knew it was a bad thing for her to work for the Shepherd. We have had nothing but trouble since she started working for that Shepherd. It must be stopped.
Gloomy: I told you it would be bad, but would anyone listen to me? No!
Craven: Be quiet, Gloomy.
Gloomy: No one ever listens.
Spiteful: That’s because you always talk as if the world is coming to an end. Who would want to listen to you?
Craven: Oh, would you two…
Aunt Dismal: Stop it all of you. Come here. Dinner is ready.
[Everyone gathers around the table, grabbing for food. Lights down.]
[Lights up. The Shepherd is sitting by a stream. Much-Afraid limps in.]
Shepherd: Much-Afraid! How are you? What happened to your cheek?
[Much-Afraid sits down beside the Shepherd]
Much-Afraid: My cousin Craven Fear has demanded that I marry him or he will marry me by force. It ended with him punching me in the cheek, and then he left to get his mother Aunt Dismal. She will get the entire clan to come and force me to marry Craven.
Shepherd: Don’t be afraid. I won’t let that happen. You are in my service. If you trust me, they can’t force you into marriage.
Much-Afraid: I don’t know how you could prevent it. I’m never out of their grasp as long as I stay in this valley. [Thoughtfully] When they come I seem to lose all my strength. They torment me everywhere I go. I never have a moment’s peace. [Sigh. Pause.] How I wish that I could leave this miserable Valley of Humiliation and go to the Mountains, where I could be safe from the Fearings.
Shepherd: [Joyously] I have waited a long time for you to say that Much-Afraid. It would be best for you to go to the High Places. I will willingly take you there. Up there on the High Places is the Kingdom of Love; no fears can be there.
Much-Afraid: But I could never go there, I’m crippled. I could never climb up those steep mountains. I couldn’t even make it past the foothills. Even if I got there I’m so blemished and crooked that I would never be let into the Kingdom of Love. No, I couldn’t do that.
Shepherd: It is true that you would have to be changed. As you journey you would become stronger. I would give you hinds feet so that you could leap on those mountains. Your face too would be changed. There are streams up on those mountains that would heal you of your blemishes.
Much-Afraid: I don’t know.
Shepherd: The choice is yours. I am able to take you up to the High Places. I am able to change you and give a joy that you have never known. I can do all this and more.
Much-Afraid: [Dreamily] How wonderful that would be.
Shepherd: There is another thing. You would have to change your name. For it would as impossible for a Much-Afraid to enter the Kingdom of Love, as it would be for any of the Fearing family to enter. Are you still willing to go?
Much-Afraid: [Slowly] Yes, I still want to go.
Shepherd: There is still one thing more, the most important of all. Only those who have the flower of love blooming in their heart can enter the Kingdom of Love. Is love growing in you?
Much-Afraid: I think what I have growing in my heart is the desire for human love and to love that person who will love me in return. But I don’t think that is the love of which you are speaking.
Shepherd: Then will you let me plant the seed of love?
Much-Afraid: [Scared, she jumps up almost falling over] But I’ve heard that when you give someone the power to love you it can open you up to all kinds of hurt. What if I’m not loved in return? I couldn’t stand the pain.
Shepherd: [Stands] But it is so happy to love even if you aren’t loved in return. It opens you up to pain to be sure, but also to a joy that you’ve never known. [Growing serious] I promise you, Much-Afraid, when you are ready to change your name, you will be loved.
[Much-Afraid thinks a moment]
Shepherd: Do you want me to plant the seed of love?
Much-Afraid: [Earnestly] Please plant the seed of love.
[Shepherd reaches into His bag and pulls a small thorn out of His bag. Much-Afraid jumps back frightened.]
Much-Afraid: [Afraid] No! It looks sharp. Won’t it hurt?
Shepherd: It will, but it slips in quickly. But if you want to know love you must know pain too. Do you still want it?
[Much-Afraid looks at the thorn and then at the Shepherd. Then slowly she extends her hand.]
Much-Afraid: Yes, plant the seed.
[The Shepherd plants the seed in her wrist. Much-Afraid cries out in pain. For a moment she covers her face. Then the change takes place.]
Shepherd: There, now you can go with me to High Places.
Much-Afraid: I’ve never felt such joy before!
Shepherd: Now your journey begins in earnest. Go back home. Prepare for your journey. You must be ready whenever I call. When you hear me singing, follow after me. Be ready. I will come for you soon. Farewell.
Much-Afraid: [Excitedly] Farewell. I will be ready whenever you call!
[Shepherd leaves. Much-Afraid sighs and stares after the Shepherd]
Craven: [Off stage] Much-Afraid? Much-Afraid?
[Craven enters looking triumphant. Much-Afraid shrinks back.]
Craven: So, Much-Afraid, I have talked it all over with mother and she says that we will be married as soon as possible. Isn’t that wonderful?
Much-Afraid: No, I…
Craven: Come on, you don’t mean that. [He takes hold of her hand] After all, I’m not all that bad.
[Much-Afraid tries to get out of his gasp, but she’s unable to]
Craven: Now Much-Afraid I know that we’ve had our differences in the past, but you need to be sensible. We are going to be married and that is that.
Much-Afraid: [Completely afraid] Craven, please. I need to go home. I have… things to do.
[Much-Afraid tries to get away again. Craven begins to get angry.]
Much-Afraid: Please, I…
Craven: If you don’t stop this act right now, I’m going to…
[He is cut short by the entrance of the Shepherd. The Shepherd hits Craven and he steps back.]
Shepherd: Get away. You have no business touching her.
[Craven leaves. The Shepherd turns to Much-Afraid who is cowering on the ground.]
Much-Afraid: Shepherd, I…
Shepherd: Much-Afraid, you shouldn’t have listened to him. He is up to no good.
Much-Afraid: I know! I know!
Shepherd: Go to your house and listen for my call.
Much-Afraid: I will.
[Much-Afraid begins to head home. Lights down.]
[Light up. Much-Afraid is in her house preparing to leave. She is singing.]
Much-Afraid: Now I think…
[She is interrupted by a knock at the door]
Much-Afraid: Who is it?
Aunt Dismal: [Off Stage] It’s me, Aunt Dismal and some of your family. Let us in. We need to talk to you.
[Much-Afraid thinks a moment then cautiously answers]
Much-Afraid: Come in.
[Enter Aunt Dismal, Uncle Malice, Pride, Bitterness, and Self-Pity]
Uncle Malice: Much-Afraid, whatever are you doing?
Much-Afraid: I’m preparing to go to the High Places, Uncle Malice. The Shepherd said that He would come for me.
Aunt Dismal: Never mind about that now. You have a wedding to prepare for.
Much-Afraid: Please. I don’t…
Aunt Dismal: Now Much-Afraid, after all that we have done for you the least that you could do is take Craven’s generous offer.
Much-Afraid: I can’t…
Uncle Malice: Stop! You will show more respect. You will marry Craven Fear.
Much-Afraid: [Becoming more afraid by the moment] No. I…
Pride: I knew that we never should have let you work for that Shepherd. You will stop seeing Him and settle down.
Bitterness: What’s that?
[Everyone falls into silence. The Shepherd passes by slowly singing as He goes. Much-Afraid tries to break free from their grasp. But the Fearings press in keeping her from going to the Shepherd.]
Much-Afraid: I must go to Him. Let me go, Pride.
Pride: No. You will not go.
Aunt Dismal: Stop struggling.
Bitterness: Besides what did He ever do for you? Stay here.
Much-Afraid: Please, Bitterness I…
Uncle Malice: No! You will do as we say.
[The Shepherd passes by and exits. Much-Afraid steps back terrified. Her relatives surround her and begin talking all at once.]
Uncle Malice: You are a foolish girl.
Pride: Now Much-Afraid be serious.
Aunt Dismal: You should show more respect.
Bitterness: You must be reasonable.
[The Fearings surround Much-Afraid and almost crush her. They continue to talk in angry voices until Much-Afraid faints on the floor.]
Uncle Malice: That girl. She is always causing trouble. [To Aunt Dismal] I don’t see how you put up with her.
Bitterness: What will we do now?
Aunt Dismal: All is in readiness at Lord Fearing’s castle for the wedding. But how would we get her there?
Pride: Why not make some tea and eat something. After we finish eating we can carry her to Lord Fearing’s castle. Before she knows what is going on, we will have her at the altar.
Uncle Malice: Then she can settle down and be a respectable woman.
Bitterness: I’ll make the tea.
[Bitterness goes off to make the tea. The others sit down to eat.]
Uncle Malice: I can’t imagine what has come over that girl.
Aunt Dismal: To think of all that I have done for her! She should show more gratitude than this.
Pride: She has become so eccentric.
[Fearings look confused]
Self-Pity: What does that mean?
Pride: It means, Self Pity, she has gone a little crazy.
Uncle Malice: Why didn’t you just say that?
Pride: I did.
Uncle Malice: Oh, never mind. We need to focus on the task at hand.
Aunt Dismal: Well, I will be glad when Much-Afraid is married to my own dear sweet Craven Fear. Poor boy. He’s been half mad with love.
[Bitterness brings the teapot to the table]
Bitterness: Here we are. The tea is hot.
[There is a knock at the door]
Uncle Malice: [Cautiously] Come in.
[Enter Mr. Valiant. All the Fearings rise to meet her.]
Valiant: Why hello. Who are you?
Uncle Malice: We are the Fearings. Much-Afraid’s relatives. And who are you?
Valiant: Mr. Valiant. I am Much-Afraid’s neighbor. [Scanning the room as she speaks she sees Much-Afraid on the ground fainted.] Much-Afraid!?
[Valiant runs over to Much-Afraid and bends over her]
Valiant: [Worried] What happened?
Aunt Dismal: [Pretending to be innocent] I don’t know. We were just talking to her. She must have hit something.
Pride: I must say. Maybe it isn’t safe for any of us to be here. We had all better leave.
Valiant: You may leave if you wish, but I will stay here.
Uncle Malice: No! You cannot!
Valiant: She is my friend. I will not leave her.
Bitterness: Actually she must come with us. She is to marry Craven Fear this very day.
Valiant: Much-Afraid is terrified of Craven. She would never marry him.
Aunt Dismal: She said that she wanted to marry him.
Pride: Yes, she was telling us all how she wanted nothing more then to be married to Craven.
Valiant: I don’t believe it. You’re all lying!
[Fearings are offended]
Uncle Malice: You watch your tone.
Valiant: Out! All of you out! If you don’t leave I’ll call the Shepherd.
[The Fearings run out at this threat. Valiant turns back to Much-Afraid. Valiant kneels beside her. She gently strokes Much-Afraid cheeks.]
Valiant: Much-Afraid? Much-Afraid?
Much-Afraid: What happened?
Valiant: You must have fainted. The Fearings….
Much-Afraid: [Worried] Where are they?
[Valiant helps Much-Afraid up]
Valiant: Don’t worry Much-Afraid. They’re gone. But you never should have let them in.
Much-Afraid: I know! I know! But I couldn’t turn…[Much-Afraid doesn’t finish her sentence]
Valiant: You should get some rest, dear. Night will be falling soon. If they come back just call and I’ll come.
[Valiant turns to leave]
Much-Afraid: What about the Shepherd? We were to start for the High Places today. He came calling for me, but because I was surrounded by the Fearings I couldn’t follow Him. What can I do?
Valiant: [Turns and looks at Much-Afraid] What do you think the Shepherd would want you to do?
Much-Afraid: I don’t know.
Valiant: I don’t know what He would have you to do. Only you can know. I must get home.
[Valiant leaves. Much-Afraid is left thinking.]
Much-Afraid: How could I have been so foolish? What can do? Would He ever forgive me? Can I ever begin my journey again? [Sigh]
[Much-Afraid sits down and wonders what to do]
Much-Afraid: The Shepherd used to tell me that if I had any distress that I should come and tell Him. He would then show me the way to go. Maybe if I go to Him, even now, He will help me.
[Much-Afraid slings her small bag across her shoulder. She leaves the house. Lights down.]
[Lights up. Much-Afraid limps unto the plain with the stream running through it. At first she doesn’t see the Shepherd.]
Much-Afraid: [Timidly] Shepherd? Shepherd? Are you here?
Shepherd: I am.
Much-Afraid: [Sadly] I am sorry. I should have never …[Much-Afraid doesn’t finish]
Shepherd: But you’re here now. We will begin your journey. Do not worry about what is past. Come.
[The Shepherd takes Much-Afraids hand. The Shepherd helps Much-Afraid walk across the stage.]
Much-Afraid: What a lovely morning it is.
Shepherd: I have brought this for you.
[The Shepherd hands Much-Afraid a small rock]
Much-Afraid: It’s a rock.
Shepherd: It’s to remind you of the day that you began your journey. Put in your bag.
Much-Afraid: It’s rough and plain.
Shepherd: Many things that are rough and plain can serve as wonderful reminders of grace and mercy.
[They move on a little bit. Then the Shepherd stops and turns to Much-Afraid]
Shepherd: Here is where your two companions will meet you. They will take you up to the High Places.
Much-Afraid: Companions? You mean you aren’t to take me to the High Places? I’m sure that if you went with me, I wouldn’t fall.
Shepherd: I could do that, but if I went with you now you wouldn’t develop hinds feet. Then you wouldn’t be able to go wherever I go. Secondly if I carried you the whole way the seed of love would never grow. Then you wouldn’t be able to go into the Kingdom of Love. So I won’t go with you, but I will give you two of the very best companions. They will help you. And I’m never far away.
Much-Afraid: Very well, I will trust you and do whatever you say.
Shepherd: You have one real beauty, Much-Afraid. You have very trusting eyes. When I look at them I find them more excellent than many a queen’s eyes.
[Pause. The Shepherd lets go of her hand.]
Shepherd: Here come your two companions.
[Enter Sorrow and Suffering. They bow to the Shepherd and remain silent.]
Much-Afraid: [To Sorrow & Suffering] Hello.
[Sorrow and Suffering nod, but don’t answer]
Much-Afraid: Why don’t they speak? Are they dumb?
Shepherd: No. They speak the language of the mountains. You will learn it, too, in good time. As for their names, this one is Sorrow and this is her sister, Suffering.
Much-Afraid: [Panicking] I can’t go with them. They would hurt me. Shepherd, why did you do this to me? Why couldn’t you have given joy and peace to encourage me?
Shepherd: Because Sorrow and Suffering will teach you things that you can’t learn any other way. Maybe they are not what you would like, but they are the best thing. Are you still willing to trust me and go with them?
[Much-Afraid looks perplexed, but then she answers]
Much-Afraid: To whom should I go? You are the only one who can give me the courage and strength. Help me to follow You even though it seems impossible. Help me to trust you as much as I long to love You.
Shepherd: [Softly] Fear not, Much-Afraid. Only believe. Go with Sorrow and Suffering. They will help you over all the difficult places. Remember I will always come when you call.
[Much-Afraid looks at the Shepherd. Then with a new strength Much-Afraid limps over to her two companions.]
Much-Afraid: I will go with you. Please lead the way.
Shepherd: My peace I leave with you. Farewell for now.
[The Shepherd leaves. Much-Afraid stares after Him for a moment.]
Much-Afraid: Let us go.
[Much-Afraid, Sorrow, and Suffering leave. Lights down.]
[Lights up. The Fearings gather at Aunt Dismals house.]
Spiteful: I tell you. I saw her leaving for the foothills. The little sneak.
Gloomy: Then she is probably gone for good. She might even be happier wherever she is going.
Aunt Dismal: Oh, stop it Gloomy. [Hits Gloomy] No one asked for your opinion.
Gloomy: Maybe I should have gone with her.
Uncle Malice: We need to make a plan. Not sit around here. Much-Afraid has most certainly left for the High Places with that Shepherd in direct defiance to our orders.
Aunt Dismal: Of all the nerve. How could she do such a thing?
Spiteful: What can be done?
Gloomy: If she has left for the High Places then she is probably gone forever. She will probably fall and kill herself.
Spiteful: Be quiet, Gloomy.
Pride: There is only one thing that we can do. We must go and get her back.
Bitterness: And what of the Shepherd? Won’t He chase us off?
Gloomy: He probably will and then we will all be ruined.
Pride: Oh, be quiet, Gloomy! He only comes when Much-Afraid calls, doesn’t He?
[All nod their heads in agreement]
Pride: If we close in and use flattery and deceptive words, she won’t call Him. Then we will take her back before she knows what has come over her.
Uncle Malice: It is a good plan. Are we all agreed?
Uncle Malice: Now who shall we send to bring Much-Afraid back?
[Pride steps forward]
Pride: Allow me to bring Much-Afraid back to my Cousin Craven. I am the strongest and will find her before she gets very far.
Uncle Malice: Go then, Pride. We will eagerly await your return.
Gloomy: If he ever does come back. He will probably fall and break his leg and then what will become of us?
All: [To Gloomy] Be quiet Gloomy!
[Much-Afraid struggles to walk, mostly she limps. Sorrow and Suffering walk on either side, helping her. Much-Afraid stops.]
Much-Afraid: Agh. This is hard.
Pride: Dear cousin Much-Afraid. I meet you at last. I have been searching everywhere for you.
Much-Afraid: [Cautiously] Hello, Cousin Pride.
Pride: Now Much-Afraid, listen carefully.
[Pride reaches out and takes Much-Afraid hand. Much-Afraid lets go of Sorrow and Suffering.]
Pride: My dear cousin, you must abandon this journey. It is dangerous and you will get hurt. It is widely know that the Shepherd misleads people. He takes them to desolate places and then abandons them.
[Pride draws Much-Afraid closer]
Pride: Give it up Much-Afraid. Give it up now while there is still time. Don’t be put to shame. What do you seek up there in that fairy-tale kingdom?
Much-Afraid: I want the Kingdom of Love.
Pride: I thought as much. You are seeking to live in a perfect kingdom. But you are so crooked and blemished that you can’t live there. The Shepherd has misled you. Come back. Come back now. We will take you back. Everything can be like it was before.
[Much-Afraid gets a far off look in her eyes]
Much-Afraid: No. [Calling and struggling against his grasp] Shepherd. Shepherd. Please. Help me!
[The Shepherd comes and with His staff hits Prides arm. Pride drops Much-Afraids hand and runs away.]
Shepherd: Are you all right?
Much-Afraid: Yes, thank you.
Shepherd: Much-Afraid, why did you let Pride hold your hand? Once you listen to Pride, it’s hard to get out of his grasp. If you had held on firmly to the hands of your two companions, Pride would have had no room in you.
Much-Afraid: I am sorry. Please help me!
Shepherd: Continue on, hold to them firmly and they will help you.
[Much-Afraid reaches out for her two companions. Sorrow and Suffering and take her hands and begin to lead her on. Lights down.]
[Lights up. Sorrow, Suffering, and Much-Afraid sleep. Much-Afraid stirs and gets up to think.]
Much-Afraid: I wonder how much longer it will be before we get to the mountains. These hills seem to go on forever. The Shepherd said He would lead me to the High Places. I do wish that it would come soon. We walk day after day with no end in sight. How much longer can this go on?
[Much-Afraid looks out over the land. Much-Afraid walks a little farther away from Sorrow and Suffering who are still asleep. As she thinks Pride, Bitterness, and Self-Pity come.]
Pride: Ah, cousin Much-Afraid. Where are you now? On the High Places? No you are far away from it. I told you so. He has led you into this rugged place and abandoned you.
Bitterness: Come now. He has taken advantage of your devotion and love. He leads you on and on to who knows where. What then will become of all the things you have said?
Much-Afraid: I can’t leave this way.
Self-Pity: Poor little Much-Afraid. She is left all alone, all alone. The Shepherd says He loves you, but can he be trusted? He has brought you out into this wilderness. He has made you sad and lonely, lonely. Can you really trust someone like that?
[Much-Afraid’s enemies make a circle around her]
Much-Afraid: I don’t know why I have to keep walking on like this day after day, but I can’t turn…
Pride: Let’s go home.
Much-Afraid: No! I can’t!
[Much-Afraid pick up a rock]
Pride: [Laughs] Put that down, Much-Afraid. Now that you’re in our power we will do as we please.
[Much-Afraid throws the rock. Pride steps back so that it doesn’t hit him.]
Bitterness: Much-Afraid we are your family. You wouldn’t dare hurt us. Besides you know that we are telling the truth. This Shepherd won’t lead you to the High Places.
Much-Afraid: Please go! The Shepherd will… You’re all lying. [Picks up another rock]
Self-Pity: Poor Much-Afraid. You don’t even know what you are talking about. You fill the air with empty words. You are so lost, lost, lost.
[Pride comes closer. While Much-Afraid is distracted with Self-Pity, Pride lunges forward and knocks the rock out of Much-Afraid’s hand.]
Pride: [Triumphantly] Hah!
[Pride hits Much-Afraid. She is thrown to the ground. Her enemies come closer.]
[Much-Afraid tries to drag herself away from them. They only get closer.]
Bitterness: Now where is this Shepherd you say that you serve?
Much-Afraid: [To herself] Shepherd. [Shouts] Shepherd. Come quickly. Please help me!
[Her enemies laugh until the Shepherd comes. Bitterness, and Self-Pity run away. With one blow of the staff the Shepherd knocks Pride to the ground unconscious. Much-Afraid runs to the Shepherd]
Much-Afraid: Thank you. Thank you. Is Pride dead?
Shepherd: No. He will come to when we leave.
Much-Afraid: Why were my enemies able to come so close? They had stayed away for so long.
Shepherd: Because you had become impatient. When you are impatient, your enemies will be able to come closer to you. But when you accept where you are with joy, there will be no room for them or their words.
[Much-Afraid kneels again]
Much-Afraid: Behold me. I am your handmaid. May I be Acceptance with Joy.
[Shepherd reaches down and picks up a piece of quartz. He hands it to Much-Afraid.]
Shepherd: Take this Much-Afraid. Put it beside the other one. May it remind you of the promise you have made.
Much-Afraid: Thank you.
Shepherd: Continue on this path. It will lead you up to the High Places and sooner than you think.
Much-Afraid: I will.
(Much-Afraid sings Call On Jesus by Nicole C. Mullen)
[Much-Afraid limps over to Sorrow and Suffering. Lights down.]
[Lights up. Much-Afraid, Sorrow, and Suffering walk out.]
Much-Afraid: [Joyously] Look! The High Places! At last. We are heading straight for them. Hurry, let’s go.
[Much-Afraid hurries her companions along. They come to what looks like an impassible precipice.]
Much-Afraid: Wait. We can’t go this way. There’s no path to go on.
Sorrow: The Shepherd has shown us the way.
Much-Afraid: I don’t see anything, but an impassable cliff.
Much-Afraid: No! No! I can’t go on that path. It’s too steep. Only the mountain goats can go on it. I can’t climb up that path as crippled as I am. I can’t. I can’t.
[Much-Afraid sinks to her knees and covers her face with her hands]
Suffering: You can. There is a…
Much-Afraid: No. I could never walk on that path. What will I do?
[Enter Craven. Sorrow and Suffering stay close to Much-Afraid so Craven doesn’t come as close.]
Craven: So, little cousin Much-Afraid, have you finally come to your senses. [Much-Afraid drops her head] That’s so good. I have come to take you back to the valley. Come.
[Much-Afraid uncovers her eyes and seeing Craven becomes even more afraid]
Much-Afraid: No! I refuse to go back with you.
Craven: Hah. Fine. Take your pick. You can come back home and be safe or you can go on and die in those mountains. Just look at those steep ledges. You would fall and be dashed to pieces.
Much-Afraid: I can’t go back, but I can’t go forward.
Craven: It’s just as I said. You must come back.
[Sorrow leans over Much-Afraid]
Sorrow: You know where you help lies. Call on the Shepherd.
Much-Afraid: No. I can’t. I can’t have Him see me like this. He would be ashamed. Oh, what can I do?
Craven: Come, Much-Afraid. I will take you home.
Much-Afraid: Maybe I should go back. Oh, but then…Oh.
Suffering: Call for the Shepherd.
Much-Afraid: [Covers her face with her hands] I have let my fears overwhelm me. I have become afraid. What can He say to me now?
[Enter Shepherd. Craven Fear hurriedly exits.]
Shepherd: There is much I could say.
[Much-Afraid looks up surprised and stands]
Shepherd: Fear not, Much-Afraid you have been forgiven.
Much-Afraid: Shepherd, I can’t go on that mountain path. Maybe the mountain goats are able to go on it, but no human being could.
Shepherd: But don’t you remember the promise that I made you while you were in the valley?
Much-Afraid: You promised that you would give me hind’s feet.
Shepherd: Yes, I did. I will do as I have promised.
Much-Afraid: It would be too impossible. It would be like trying to make a jellyfish into a mountain goat.
Shepherd: That is what I love doing. I love turning jellyfish into mountain goats.
Much-Afraid: Can you really help me? I’m so afraid and untrusting that I fear I will never develop hind’s feet.
Shepherd: I am able to help you. And if you continue on I will fulfill the promises I made.
Shepherd: Yes. Do you believe that I can lead you up to the High Places?
Shepherd: Now continue on your way. This cliff is called Injury. It is the cliff I have chosen for you to ascend. The way will be hard, but if you keep close to your two companions and remember what you have learned, you will be able to go up.
Much-Afraid: I will go wherever you say now that I have found your favor.
[The Shepherd takes a rope and gives it to Much-Afraid]
Shepherd: Take this and tie yourself to Sorrow and Suffering. The way is steep. If you fall they can help you to get back up.
[Much-Afraid takes the rope. Sorrow and Suffering tie themselves to Much-Afraid. Shepherd produces a small bottle out of His robe.]
Shepherd: Take this too. It is the Cordial of the Spirit. It will refresh and help you on the journey. There is a cave at the top of this cliff. There you can rest for the night.
[Much-Afraid takes the bottle and puts it in her bag]
Much-Afraid: Thank you. I now feel ready to go.
Much-Afraid: Will you come with me?
Shepherd: Not today. But I will never be far.
[Lights down. The Shepherd leaves. Much-Afraid, Sorrow, and Suffering begin to walk up the steep cliff. ]
[Lights up. Much-Afraid, Sorrow, and Suffering walk on slowly. The going is hard, there are many rocks and the way is steep.]
Much-Afraid: Is this the right way? It’s so hard and steep.
Suffering: It is the way the Shepherd told us to go.
Much-Afraid: I know, but it’s really hard. Don’t you think that we might have taken a wrong step?
Sorrow: The Shepherd said that this is the way.
Much-Afraid: Yes, but I…
[At this moment Much-Afraid slips and falls cutting her ankles]
Much-Afraid: Ouch. It hurts.
[Sorrow and Suffering drop down beside her]
Sorrow: Take some of the cordial that the Shepherd gave you.
Much-Afraid: I can’t.
Suffering: [Urgently] You must!
Much-Afraid: I think I’m going to faint.
[Suffering reaches into Much-Afraid’s bag and brings out the cordial. Sorrow holds up Much-Afraid’s head and Suffering pours a few drops in her mouth. Much-Afraid revives.]
Sorrow: Are you well?
Much-Afraid: Better, but my ankles hurt.
[Much-Afraid rubs her ankles]
Suffering: You must have cut them when you fell.
Much-Afraid: Maybe if we put some of the cordial on them.
[Suffering and Sorrow nod. Suffering pours a few drops on her legs.]
Much-Afraid: They feel better.
Suffering: Much-Afraid, this is the path the Shepherd has shown. If you had been more concerned with the path and than questioning it, this never would have happened.
Much-Afraid: I’m sorry. When will I ever learn?
Sorrow: Learning is what this journey is about. Just think, you have learned to understand us.
Much-Afraid: Yes, so I have.
Sorrow: Can you walk?
Much-Afraid: I think so. Could you help me stand up?
[Sorrow and Suffering help Much-Afraid to stand up. They continue walking, but Much-Afraid limps more because of her injury.]
Much-Afraid: Look! The cave!
[Much-Afraid points to the cave. They go inside. Much-Afraid and her companions take off the ropes.]
Suffering: Let us rest.
Sorrow: That sounds wonderful.
[Sorrow and Suffering lie down to rest. Much-Afraid lies down, but she soon sits up.]
Much-Afraid: The night draws near, but I can’t sleep. This is such a dreary place.
[Much-Afraid turns and notices a little flower growing out of the cave wall. She goes up to it.]
Much-Afraid: What is your name, little flower?
Flower: I am Bearing the Cost. I was separated from my family and friends, and was brought up to this steep and desolate place. But I have borne the cost and have flourished.
Much-Afraid: Oh, Shepherd help me become like this little flower, Bearing the Cost.
[A piece of rock falls beside Much-Afraid. She takes it and places it in her bag. Then she returns to sleep with Sorrow and Suffering. Lights down.]
[Lights up. Much-Afraid and her companions walk to the edge of a wood. The Shepherd meets them.]
Shepherd: Much-Afraid. You have made it up the cliff Injury.
Much-Afraid: Shepherd. Why are you here?
Shepherd: To strengthen you and to tell you of what lies ahead. Come sit here.
[Much-Afraid sits down on a large rock]
Shepherd: What happened to your ankles?
Much-Afraid: I cut them when I was climbing up the cliff. I was questioning the path. I fell as a result.
Shepherd: Let me see them.
[Much-Afraid shows the wounds on her ankles. The Shepherd puts His hands on her ankles and they are healed.]
Much-Afraid: They feel better.
Shepherd: [Sits down beside Much-Afraid] You will need them. You are about to enter the Forest of Danger. Your enemies lurk there. Many times the trees grow so close together that you can’t see the light of day. But remember nothing can really hurt you while you are on the path that I have set you on.
Much-Afraid: [Scared] The Forest of Danger? Oh, Shepherd. Where ever will you lead me next?
Shepherd: To the next stage of your journey. But don’t worry I will be with you.
Much-Afraid: Very well, I will go on.
[The Shepherd kneels and picks up another stone and gives it to Much-Afraid]
Shepherd: Fear not. Walk on and be strong.
[Shepherd leaves. Much-Afraid stands]
Much-Afraid: Come let’s go.
[Much-Afraid takes the hands of Sorrow and Suffering. Shepherd leaves. Much-Afraid and her two companions begin to walk through the forest. Craven, Bitterness, and Self-Pity lurk behind the trees.]
Much-Afraid: It’s hard to see.
Sorrow: We can see the path.
Much-Afraid: But not much else.
Craven: [From behind a tree, in a mocking voice] There are storms in these parts. One is coming around the mountain. Run down the path now before you are swept away.
Much-Afraid: You may go if you wish, but I will continue on.
[They continue walking on slowly]
Bitterness: [From behind another tree] Stop right there. Haven’t you noticed that the path is level? It won’t lead you up to the High Places, but around and around the mountain.
[Much-Afraid stops and looks around her]
Much-Afraid: I hadn’t noticed that. Maybe this isn’t the right way.
Sorrow: Much-Afraid, this is the path that the Shepherd has told us to go on. Don’t you remember what happened last time you questioned the path?
Suffering: Bitterness is never to be trusted. Don’t listen to him.
Self-Pity: [From behind a tree or large rock] Poor little thing. It is too bad that this Shepherd has put you in the care of such stubborn guides. You should have been on the High Places by now. Instead you are down here slipping and sliding, slipping and sliding.
[Much-Afraid pauses only a moment]
Much-Afraid: I can’t stand them any longer.
[Much-Afraid reaches down and picks up a rock]
Much-Afraid: Please help me get rid of them.
[Sorrow and Suffering pick up rocks. All three hurl rocks until the enemies run in fear.]
Much-Afraid: Finally. They are so horrid.
Sorrow: We need to go. There’s a storm coming.
[Much-Afraid takes the hands of Sorrow and Suffering and walks on. She trips some, but her companions help her. Lights down.]
[Lights up. Much-Afraid comes out singing (As The Deer). They come into a meadow. The Shepherd meets them]
Shepherd: Where did you learn that song?
Much-Afraid: From Sorrow. She taught it to me yesterday as we were walking through the forest.
[Much-Afraid looks down at her dress which by this time has become tattered and dirty.]
Much-Afraid: [Feeling ashamed] Forgive my shabby appearance. I have been walking for many days. I’m afraid I fell a few times.
Shepherd: Don’t you know that I never see you as what you are, but as what you will be?
[Sorrow and Suffering move off a little ways. Much-Afraid and Shepherd sit down on a large rock.]
Shepherd: How about Sorrow and Suffering? Do you find them to be good guides?
Much-Afraid: Yes. I never could have believed this possible, but I have come to love them. I think they really like helping a poor little cripple like me.
Shepherd: Yes, they do seem to enjoy their task.
[Pause. Much-Afraid and Shepherd stare at Sorrow and Suffering for a moment. Then the Shepherd turns to Much-Afraid seriously.]
Shepherd: Do you love me, Much-Afraid?
Much-Afraid: You know I love you. You know that I want to learn to love you more.
Shepherd: Would you love me even if everything in the world seemed to tell you that I had deceived you?
Much-Afraid: I would still love you even if everything in the world seemed to say that You had deceived me. For I know that You can’t lie.
Shepherd: What if I really had deceived you? Would you love me even then?
[Much-Afraid rises and thinks. Then she looks to him.]
Much-Afraid: I would have to love you. I can’t live without loving you.
Shepherd: Now is the time for the promise to be fulfilled that I made to you down in the valley.
Much-Afraid: [Becoming excited] You mean…
Shepherd: Yes, you are about to embark on the last stage of your journey. It’s the hardest of all. But all that you have conquered so far has strengthened you. You will be changed, and emerge on the other side a different person.
Much-Afraid: At last. I can hardly believe that I will now be able to go to High Places.
Shepherd: Rest in these meadows a few days. I will give you instructions when the time is right.
Much-Afraid: [Much-Afraid kneels] Thank you.
[Much-Afraid rises and limps away. Sorrow and Suffering come close to the Shepherd.]
Shepherd: You have done your task well; she is almost ready to come into the Kingdom of Love.
Sorrow: My Lord, What is this place called?
Shepherd: The Meadows of Anointing. It is where I prepare my children for burial.
[Lights up. Much-Afraid, Sorrow, and Suffering sleep]
Shepherd: [Off stage] Much-Afraid. Much-Afraid.
[Much-Afraid stirs and looks up. She tries to rub the sleep from her eyes.]
Much-Afraid: Shepherd? Is that you? Where are you?
[Much-Afraid looks around, but the Shepherd is nowhere to be seen]
Shepherd: [Off stage] Go to the place I will show you. There offer the plant of human love that you found growing in your heart.
[Much-Afraid rises and looks out over the meadow]
Much-Afraid: Shepherd? He’s gone. He asked me to…No, I can’t.
Much-Afraid: How can I do this? But how can I not?
[Much-Afraid goes over to her sleeping companions. She bends over Sorrow and Suffering]
Much-Afraid: Sorrow. Suffering. Come. The Shepherd has called me to make a sacrifice. We must go.
[Sorrow and Suffering wake up and rise]
Sorrow: Are you well?
Much-Afraid: He has called me to sacrifice the plant of love that I found growing in my heart.
Suffering: What is wrong?
Much-Afraid: If I do that I won’t be able to go to the High Places. What then will become of all the promises He made? Am I never to go to the High Places?
Suffering: So will you do this?
Much-Afraid: I don’t know. If I do this then I won’t be let into the Kingdom Of Love. Where will I go? What will I do?
Sorrow: Much-Afraid, many times His commands will not make sense. But will you choose to follow even if all seems lost?
Suffering: Remember what He said? I will be with you?
Much-Afraid: Yes, I remember.
Sorrow: Will you go?
[Much-Afraid thinks a moment]
Much-Afraid: I will go. Even though I don’t know what will become of me.
(Song: Meet With Me by Ross King)
Suffering: Do you know the way?
Much-Afraid: No, but let’s continue to climb up the mountain. The Shepherd will show me the place.
[All three begin to walk toward the mountains, but are stopped by the sound of pattering feet. Pride, Craven, Bitterness, and Self-Pity come running down the path.]
Pride: Back! Back!
Craven: There is an avalanche coming. It’s going to sweep us all away.
Bitterness: Run for your lives.
Self-Pity: Run before you are destroyed, destroyed I tell you.
[Pride, Craven, Bitterness, and Self-Pity run by while saying this]
Much-Afraid: We cannot turn back.
Suffering: What will we do then?
[Much-Afraid turns to them surprised]
Much-Afraid: You don’t know?
[Sorrow and Suffering shakes their heads]
Sorrow: This is your sacrifice not ours.
[Pause. Much-Afraid looks up.]
Much-Afraid: Look There is a cave not too far from here. If we run we may reach it before the avalanche.
[The three hurry off stage. Lights down.]
[Lights up. Much-Afraid, Sorrow, and Suffering come in a canyon with a large stone in the middle. The Priest stands behind it.]
Suffering: Is this the place?
Much-Afraid: Yes, this is the place. But this fog is so thick that I can hardly see.
Sorrow: I can see an altar.
Much-Afraid: Now is the time.
[Much-Afraid kneels and looks upward]
Much-Afraid: Shepherd, will you come to me now?
Much-Afraid: [Crying] Even if I must do this alone. I will do what you have asked me.
[Much-Afraid reaches down to her wrist and tries to pull out the human love. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t pull it out. She groans from the pain. She turns to Sorrow and Suffering.]
Much-Afraid: [Desperately] The roots have entangled my heart. I can’t pull it out. Help me!
Sorrow: [Shakes her head] We can’t.
Suffering: [With pain in her voice] This is beyond us.
Much-Afraid: Then how…?
[Much-Afraid looks perplexed. The Priest approaches her.]
Priest: I am the Priest of this altar. I can take it out, if you wish.
Much-Afraid: [Relieved] Oh thank you. Please take it out. I beg you to.
Priest: Come here. [He motions to the altar]
[Much-Afraid takes a step forward and places her bag on the ground]
Much-Afraid: I fear the pain is great. Would you bind me to the altar so that I will not be found struggling while I am doing His will?
Priest: Yes, I will bind you.
[Much-Afraid lies down on the altar. The Priest binds her to the altar.]
Much-Afraid: [Almost in a whisper] He will make my feet like hinds feet and will make me walk on His High Places.
Priest: Now is the time.
[Sorrow and Suffering leave. He reaches and pulls out her human love. Much-Afraid screams in pain, but once the human love is removed she calms down.]
Priest: Yes, it was ready to come out.
Much-Afraid: [Wearily] It is finished.
[Much-Afraid closes her eyes and sighs wearily. Then she drifts off to sleep. Lights down.]
[Lights up. All of the Fearing are gathered at Aunt Dismal.]
Pride: She has really made it. We lost track of her after the avalanche.
Self-Pity: I almost died.
[Self-Pity lets out a melodramatic sigh]
Craven: Do you think she is out of our power forever?
Pride: I have an apprehension so.
Aunt Dismal: What does that mean?
Pride: It means…Oh never mind.
Gloomy: Much-Afraid is probably very happy and isn’t even going to visit.
Aunt Dismal: [Annoyed] Oh, be quiet, Gloomy.
Bitterness: Is there nothing we can do?
Uncle Malice: No. Once she is in that kingdom, there is nothing we can do.
Self-Pity: If only you had been more forceful, then she would have come back for sure.
Bitterness: [Raising her voice] Me? You think this is my fault? What about you?
Pride: If you two hadn’t come in I would have brought her back before you could have said ‘yesterday’.
Gloomy: That didn’t work out so well. The Shepherd always spoils our plans. It never works out well for us.
Pride: Would you keep your thoughts to yourself, Gloomy? I’ve had enough of you.
Gloomy: Why does everyone keep saying that?
Self-Pity: Back to the subject. What are we going to do about Much-Afraid?
Uncle Malice: If the reports are true, there is nothing to be done. It appears we have lost her forever.
Aunt Dismal: After all that I have done for her.
Gloomy: Maybe it’s for the best. She might…
All: Be quiet, Gloomy!
Gloomy: Everyone is always telling me to be quiet.
[Lights up. Much-Afraid on the altar wakes up to find that she has been untied, she has a clean white dress on, and that there is no one with her. She sits up and looks around.]
Much-Afraid: Sorrow? Suffering? Priest?
[She stands up and begins to look around for them. Then she stops and realizes that she is walking on her own two feet and not limping at all.]
Much-Afraid: My feet! It’s true. They are healed. I’m no longer crippled!
[Much-Afraid spins out of joy]
Much-Afraid: He fulfilled His promise. And I was so worried. He even gave me a new dress and a new song.
(Song: How Deep Is Your Love by Jason Ingram)
[Much-Afraid looks around]
Much-Afraid: Now how…[Much-Afraid sees the way out] So this is the way out of this canyon.
[Much-Afraid grabs her bag exits. Lights down.]
[Lights up. The Shepherd stands on the High Places. Much-Afraid comes running up to Him.]
Shepherd: At last you are here on the High Places.
[Much-Afraid kneels at His feet]
Shepherd: Now you are to receive the fulfillment to all the promises. I will give you a new name. The name of your God. No good thing will He withhold from you. From now on, your name is Grace and Glory.
Shepherd: Now for the promise that when the seed of love is blooming in your heart, you will be loved in return.
[Grace and Glory rises looking sad]
G And G: There is no seed to bloom. It was sacrificed on the altar.
Shepherd: Then how did you get here? Let me see.
[Grace and Glory extends her wrist. She sees that there is a plant with a flower on it. She gasps in surprise.]
G and G: My Lord, how did that get there?
Shepherd: Don’t you remember the seed of love that I planted? It has bloomed.
G and G: But then what did the Priest tear out?
Shepherd: Don’t you know? That was the natural desire for human love. But when the time was right I tore it out.
G and G: You? You were the Priest?
Shepherd: Yes. Now I will fulfill my promise. I have set my love on you. Never again will you need the natural human love to sustain you.
Shepherd: Give me your bag with the stones.
[Grace and Glory hands over the bag]
Shepherd: Hold out your hands.
[Grace and Glory extends her hands. The Shepherd turns the bag upside-down. Jewels fall into Grace and Glory’s hands. She’s amazed.]
G and G: Jewels! Where did they come from?
Shepherd: These are the stones that you gathered on your journey. They will adorn your crown.
G and G: You mean just as I have been transformed, these rough and small stones have been transformed into jewels?
Shepherd: Yes. Everything that you have learned on your journey will be ornaments to adorn you. Now you must have handmaids to serve you. I have already chosen two for you.
[Grace and Glory puts the jewels in her bag and slings it over her shoulder. The Shepherd turns and claps. Grace and Glory looks sad for a moment.]
G and G: [To herself] I wish Suffering and Sorrow had come.
[Grace and Glory turns. Enter Peace And Joy. They are dressed in white and are no longer veiled, but with crowns on their heads. Grace and Glory steps forward.]
Shepherd: These will be your handmaids.
[Grace and Glory looks at them for a moment]
G and G: Who are you?
[The two look at each other and smile]
Joy: Don’t you know us?
[Then Grace and Glory recognizes them]
G and G: [Joyfully] Sorrow! Suffering! How I had hoped you would be here!
Peace: No, no, we are no more Sorrow and Suffering any more then you are Much-Afraid. Everything that comes up to the High Places is changed, just as you were.
Joy: We are now [Points to Peace and herself] Peace and Joy.
Peace: We too have been changed since you brought us here.
G and G: What?! From the first to the last you dragged me here.
Joy: No, you brought us. When you accepted our help and let us go with you, you let us make a journey of transformation as well. But Sorrow and Suffering can’t enter the Kingdom of Love, so we too had to be changed.
Peace: Now we can go with you wherever you go. Now nothing can separate us.
[All three hug]
G and G: My heart is so full I think it will break.
Shepherd: Come, there are things for you to see.
[Exit: all. Lights down.]
[Lights up. The Shepherd comes out skipping. Grace and Glory follows behind breathless. The jewels have been set in her crown. It has been placed on her head. Peace and Joy follow them.]
G and G: No more. No more. I need to rest.
Shepherd: Then let’s sit down here.
[They sit down and look out over the High Places]
Shepherd: Do you like it up here?
G and G: Very much. You were right. There is joy beyond anything I could have ever known. It made the journey worthwhile.
Shepherd: Tell me, what did you learn on your journey?
[Grace and Glory stares off into the distance remembering all the lessons. Pause.]
G and G: I learned that in all my trials I must be Acceptance with Joy. When you take sorrow and pain and drink it down to the last drop it will turn out for your good in the end. I also learned that I must lay down my own will and bear the cost. Lastly, I learned that you never saw me as crippled Much-Afraid, but as beautiful Grace and Glory and loved me accordingly.
Shepherd: All this made your feet like hind’s feet. Everything that you went through changed you and made you into Grace and Glory.
G and G: Oh, Shepherd. I would love to show others that same kind of love.
Shepherd: You will. The time will come for you to show this love to others
G and G: Look. We can see a long way from here. What is that way down there? [Points]
Shepherd: Don’t you know? It is the Valley Of Humiliation.
G and G: Where all my Fearing relatives live?
Shepherd: The same.
G and G: [Thoughtfully] They live such terrible lives.
Shepherd: I know.
G and G: [Thoughtfully with pity in her voice] If only something could be done to help them. There is my Aunt Dismal. She’s so angry and hurt by those around her. Then there are her daughters Spiteful and Gloomy. They don’t have any true friends and hate each other. Then there’s Craven … he … he has no friends and is hated by everyone. So he makes trouble to get attention. Can nothing be done for them? They don’t know the joy of the High Places. Can’t you go to them and help them as you did me?
Shepherd: I would love to help them, but they won’t let me into their homes. I can’t even speak to them.
G and G: Can nothing be done?
Shepherd: There is a way. If I have a voice to speak for me I can talk to them. This voice can go into their homes and hearts and speak to them.
G and G: I see. Then I will go to them. [She rises] I can speak to them.
Shepherd: [Rises] Do you even know what you will say?
G and G: No, but you will teach me and I will do as you say. Your word is like a two edged sword. It can cut through anything. I know that you will give me the words to say.
[Peace and Joy step forward]
Joy: We will come with you.
G and G: You will?
Peace: We are your handmaids. We go where you go.
Shepherd: It is well said. They will go with you.
G and G: When can we start?
Shepherd: Whenever you wish.
G and G: Then can we go now?
Shepherd: Yes. Come follow me. I will show you the best way.
G and G: Let’s go, I’m ready.
[The Shepherd, followed by Grace and Glory, Peace, and Joy: all exit. Start playing Shackles (Praise You) by Mary Mary. Have the cast dance on stage.]