The path before me is smooth and grassy, the air is cool and fragrant, and my mind and heart is a million miles away. The stream is gurgling past me and the birds are singing but I can’t see the beauty and am barely aware of the sounds. I stumble along moving into the woods as the thoughts starting rolling through my mind. I come upon a fork in the path before I’ve barely had a chance to get started. I take the right hand turn but after only a few steps I feel a strange sense of foreboding and I pause. What is ahead of me on this path? I wonder. I am alone. What if something happens? Who will help me? I’ve felt this kind of prompting before . . . back when the Lord told me who I was going to marry . . . back when I walked into the hospital and thought this could change my life . . . am I going to ignore this? So I turn around and take the left fork. This path leads to a small open meadow and back to my starting point and I’m not yet ready to return so I look for another path.
That looks like a path. I head in that direction, but am disappointed. I try another direction, but am disappointed once again. I find I am wandering somewhat aimlessly looking for a direction, a goal. Finally I decide to go back, be brave and take the right fork. The foreboding is still there, but it eases as I continue down the path.
This path leads away from the water which is not what I thought I wanted, but it has it’s own peacefulness. God often leads away from the things we thought we wanted and eventually we find that God has something better in mind for us.
The trees get sparse and I feel the desolation within me. I see buds on the shrubbery around me and tiny flowers on the huckleberry bushes and I hope that those who will be coming along behind me can perhaps find beauty and fruit where I can not. For right now I only feel the emptiness.
The starkness of the trail continues and I am finally overcome and I sink down and cry. When I can pull myself together I notice that my tears have watered a lone violet bravely sticking it’s head out and shining brightly in the spot where he was placed. If my grief can water but one and help them to grow . . .
I move on, stumbling over rocks, wondering why I chose this route. Why don’t I go back? What is in store for me? Where does this path lead? I look up and see a trail marker encouraging me, telling me I am on the right path and I feel hope.
The rocks get worse and I reach for the helping hand of my Father. Then the rocks are gone and I begin a steep ascent. At least I didn’t have both “trials” at the same time. God knows how much I can handle. Still in that mind-numbing state of contemplation I stop to watch a bird dig around in the leaves. And I am reminded that life still goes on.
I round a bend in the path and see a strange sight – a mailbox, out in the middle of the woods! There is no house, not even any kind of road. The side of the mailbox says register here. So I stop and check it out. Inside I find a tablet with notes from various hikers who have gone before me. I leave my note This is my first anniversary without my husband. It has been a trail of tears for me, but God continues to show His faithfulness. I forge on, but the interruption is enough to pull me back to reality and I start to wonder just how long this trail is. I call information and find out that the trail I am on actually crosses the entire state of Pennsylvania. I very quickly decide I don’t have time for all of that today and get directions back to where I left my car. I am reminded again of the importance of a regular interaction with my road map to heaven (the Bible).
That brush with reality reminds me of my children and I feel a need to get home to them as soon as possible. That need pushes me up the hill in front of me only to find when I reach the top that the descent could be just as difficult.
At the bottom I find a bridge and amongst the list of names of volunteers who helped to build the bridge I find the name of one of my high school classmates. Another reminder of the many people who have gone on before me and paved my way, cleared the path, marked or plotted the course. I am not alone in my pain.
I hear the sound of traffic again, the end is in sight. The bathroom is just ahead. =) My life maybe a series of rocks, bare patches, and desolate feelings right now, but there is an end. And it WILL be worth it all.