I was out with a group of friends doing a hike up into the Colorado Rockies for a Roman Catholic charity event benefiting the homeless, and maybe it was the lack of oxygen at the elevations we hit, but the whole hike turned into a giant metaphor. Walk with me.
Symbolic of our lives and our journey. The path is not always clear cut or obvious, sometimes we have to make our own way, sometimes we can see the passage ahead of us as clear as day, and sometimes it looks like the path goes one way, when it really has some major twists, turns, ups and downs that we never saw coming. The important thing is to keep going, no matter what, and to remember that with innovation, faith and determination, there is always a way ahead, just not always in the direction we intended to go. When barriers fall across our road, we can move them or we can go over and around them; the choice isn’t in turning back, but in finding a way to the other side. Sometimes the best blessings come into our lives right when we need them most, like discovering fresh berries, a clean clear stream or a lake full of fish along the hike.
With some preparation, we’ve got what we need to get where we want to go. Firstly, I did get in to shape a bit before embarking on this voyage, courtesy of a rowing machine, one of the best models available at calmwaters. Secondly, I purchased my hiking shoes, they kept my feet safe and without them, the journey would have been really rough. There was water to keep me hydrated, the backpack to carry what I absolutely needed, my hat kept the sun off my face, and the bug repellant helped me to keep my sanity. Not all of my best resources were brought with me. I picked up a walking stick along the way; it gave me balance and helped me climb or rest, as needed. Wood and brush kept me warm through the cold night and gave me heat, protection from wild animals, and the ability to cook the fish I caught from the stream I stopped to drink from. All of those are resources that I did not bring, but which were waiting for me as I went along, and in life, our resources are oftentimes waiting just ahead. While we may need to work to get or use them, they are available to us if we apply ourselves.
I accepted the challenge and I went, but I went with friends, because there is power in numbers and work is easier when divided among many, and they are good company, which kept me in high spirits and a healthy frame of mind. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone; we are naturally tribes of friends and families so that we can all get through it together. When you see people struggling on their own, no matter their age or position, bring them into the group and know that when you lighten their load and ease their way, they’ll be doing the same for everyone else just by being present.
The weather changed as we went; sometimes hot and sunny, sometimes shaded by a passing cloud, and there was the wild summer rain storm that sent us seeking shelter, but like any adversity, it passed, and we kept going. Life can change on a dime, and though some of it is welcome and comforting, other parts are a test of courage and tenacity; if we pass the test, we go on. Let a temporary circumstance teach you, but never let it stop you from reaching your goals.