This trail is a long one, wide enough for a vehicle, but I don't drive it, I walk it so I can enjoy it more completely. I have begun to take my time to listen to the birds, and for the rustle in the brush that could lead me to a live armadillo rooting for food, or the cry of an eagle overhead. I couldn't hear those things from a car with an engine running. I have met with God here so many times in the touch of the breeze and the feel of the sun and shadows sliding over my skin, even in the rain that once drenched me and had me shivering and numb all the way back home.
There are hardships on this trail. The rocks and potholes could break an ankle or sprain a knee if I'm not careful, and if I touch the wrong bush I could get poison ivy. Copperheads and rattlesnakes have greeted me on this trail from time to time, and ticks and chiggers are vile and vicious creatures that frighten me more than the snakes because there are so many more of them. I carry protection against anyone who might be guarding their marijuana harvest or meth lab.
I learned long ago that enjoyment and suffering, laughter and tears are two parts of the same package. You can't feel joy quite so exquisitely unless you've felt its opposite. In our journey through life, we will hit the proverbial potholes and rocks--some of which are dangerous boulders that can knock us sideways: illness, the loss of a beloved, a church split, rebellious children, abusive people with power over us in our jobs and homes. The more deeply we delve into life, the more easily we can be wounded, but with those wounds, we grow.
At the end of the journey, as at the end of each hike I take, I believe what matters is not so much what happened to us during the journey, but the choices we made in response. Inevitably, those choices are what will determine what we become. What choices have you made lately, or what has happened to you that will have an impact on your choices?