Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Walked a Metaphor

After a day of gray skies and windy rain the sun finally made an appearance. Since the leaves were still looking fiery my husband and I headed out with the dog for a walk thru a nearby wilderness and recreation area. I’d glanced at a map prior to leaving the house and even printed something from the website that showed a few trails. For some reason though, once we got out of the car and put the leash on the dog we just jumped on the nearest path and unfortunately left those maps in the car. We came to a split in the trail and without a whole lot of thought went for the one marked yellow.

The woods were absolutely glorious, the light caught the tips of the leaves and reflected off the nearby water. The trail was wide and flat and beautiful. We stopped to admire the lake and listen to the geese...we watched some men racing model speedboats and we took a million pictures. The air was cool so we walked arm in arm wrapped in our warm coats and mufflers. We walked this way for a while until we came upon another fork in the trail and again, we didn’t really stop to think too hard, we just went with what was in front of us.

The trail veered away from the water and became rocky, the kind of rocky where you have to watch where you are putting your feet because the rocks stick up just high enough and just often enough so that you catch your toe and after a while you might also swear under your breath or possibly out loud because you get tired of almost tripping. Now you’re getting hot…and thirsty…and you regret leaving the water in the car with the map. In the back of your brain a little thought percolates…something you remember reading online about one of these trails being 12 miles long and you start praying a little that the 12 mile trail is not the one marked with a yellow diamond because you most certainly did not want to walk 12 miles of rocky trails today. You start really wishing you hadn’t left the map in the car…or the water.

The trail goes up so you follow, going deeper and deeper into the woods thinking that just maybe when you get to the top of this trail you’ll see something familiar but no, just more woods and you feel deflated…and maybe like crying just a little. Your husband asks if you are okay, if you need to rest and you kind of want to yell at him because you are hot and tired and feeling like you might never find the end of this trail and he’s an easy target for your frustration but you pull yourself together and keep going.

We’re bound to reach the end of the trail soon you would think except that 12 mile thing that was percolating in the back of your brain...well, it has now moved front and center. You come to a stream and it requires hopping from rock to rock to slippery fallen down tree trunk to get across and two hours ago you would have found a little joy in that small feat but now you are just irritated and hoping not to slip and fall. Your husband goes first and he makes it, even with the dog in tow and then he reaches out and offers you his hand and you don’t pout but you take it and get across too.

We keep walking and climbing and twisting ankles and stubbing toes and we’re not taking any pictures now. In fact the beauty of these woods has been marred a bit. Just a couple of hours ago every leaf and tree was worthy of comment but what was so gloriously golden a couple of hours ago is now just something to get through. It is right about then that your husband reminds you of how we used to take the kids out as a family and they would panic if they thought we’d missed a turn or were in any way lost. And he would reassure them (and me too) and say ‘Don’t worry… I’m here with you and I always know where I am’.

At some point along the way today I found myself thinking that this hike makes an interesting metaphor for life. What began as a simple walk turned into an honest to goodness hike... isn't that the way life goes too? I jump onto a path without taking enough time to be sure it’s the right one? I move along thru the days and weeks and moments, finding the going mostly easy and beautiful until suddenly a fork in the road appears. Don’t I often go for whatever is in front of me…the seemingly easy route? How many times has that seemingly easy route turned into a rocky road? Maybe it’s not full of big giant boulders to haul myself over although sometimes there is that too... most of the time it’s just annoying ‘rocks’ in my path. Rocks that trip me up, irritate me and make me impatient to the point that I cry quiet tears of frustration and lash out at people I love. Sometimes bigger obstacles require crossing a stream and sometimes it's easier to pout about my circumstances rather than reach for the hand offering help. How much of the beauty that is all around me do I miss because instead of looking for the blessing in the moment I just want to get through it…to move on to the next thing? Sometimes I even feel lost.

I was happy to finally round a bend today and see the car park in the distance. I’m especially glad my husband was with me...that he knew the way when I did not...that he was patient with me…that he knows me and yet he loves me. I am also thankful I’m not going it alone in the bigger picture that is life…that the very God who created the beauty of the woods we hiked today is patient with me...that He knows the way when I do not...that He holds me in the palm of His hand …He says ‘Don’t worry …I’m here… and I always know where I am.”


  1. Thank you so much for this beautiful inspiring post today! I really really needed to read this and just know that it was not in vain, the long walk. Sometimes I really have a hard time "seeing the beauty of the moment"! That is so well put and it really gave me the encouragement I needed!
    Thanks again Joyce and have a good week!

  2. I hope it's alright but I posted this on my facebook wall. I needed that encouragement and I know I'm not the only one. Thanks, sweet lady!...
    Now where are the pictures? ; )

  3. This is a beautiful post, Joyce and one that really spoke to my heart. Isn't it wonderful when life's situations can teach us such profound lessons?
    I sure was hoping for some pictures. :-) The hike sounded gorgeous! Maybe tomorrow? ;-)

  4. Beautiful, just beautiful!

    Have a wonderful week!

  5. Great post Joyce!! You are a very talented writer! I too am glad to have God with me in this thing called life and must remember that he has the master plan for my life. I sometimes don't understand all of the things he has for me along the way, but I must have faith that God will provide. He is ALWAYS there for me. I must also remember to respect God's timing in my life. Thanks for a wonderful post and a reminder of God's grace to each of us. Have a great week! Love & blessings from NC!

  6. What a beautiful, challenging post to read when starting my week! Thanks, Joyce!

  7. What a beautiful way to look at that crazy hike. The metaphor you chose is perfect. I think you and I must be similar in that whole patience thing. God has been dealing with that in me for a long time and I think He is making some progress. Praise Him!

    That's why my blog is called, "Joy in the Journey" because at the time I started it, I wasn't exactly appreciating all of the blessings and joys God was giving me. I was too blinded by the hard stuff.

  8. This is wonderful and I'm following Rebekah's example and posting it on my facebook so others can read it! Thanks!

  9. It's amazing that I've been doing much thinking right along these lines. You've said it much, much better than I could. What a fantastic post!

  10. Joyce,

    What a great inspirational post! Just what I needed this morning.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  11. I enjoyed this post and am happy I found your blog!