“The Eternal silence of these boundless places strikes awe in my soul.” -- Pascal
When you are on a trail, you know it’s just you and the trail. The trail welcomes you with no judgment, no conditions, no restrictions. It opens before you all the possibilities. You will only walk the trail once. Every hike is unique, one of a kind. I have hiked some trails many times. Each time I begin the hike I bring what has happened to me, making this hike a new encounter between the person on the last hike and all that has happened since. There is a possibility of experiencing a new me as I place one foot in front of the other.
The trail will be shared at times, and then intersect with the trail of others. This is good, necessary, and helpful. One day I was on a hike in the mountains outside of Estes Park. It was a trail I had never hiked before. I had no idea how difficult it was. The trail kept getting steeper and steeper. I was beginning to move slower and slower. I notice when I get into a situation such as this, I don’t take long strides, but revert to baby steps. With those baby steps I can make my way higher and higher. I met a fellow hiker – he was on the way down the trail. He looked at me, then with a big, warm, encouraging, welcoming smile [must have been Irish] offered these words of encouragement, “it is not far now and it is worth it.” Those words somehow picked me up. I got a little strength back in my step. I completed the hike. Yes, it was worth it.
As you have been given, so you want to give back. I was on Logan’s Pass in Glacier National Park. I was on the way up, on the path to the lake. I noticed a hiker ahead who had stopped and was leaning against a rock. It was obvious she was finding the hike difficult. As I approached, she said, “I cannot keep up the pace of the others.” I found myself saying, “You are going to get there in your own time and at your own pace, not the way your friends are going to get there.” I moved on.
Later, in my car driving “the road to the sun,” I was stopped in a long line of traffic. We were going nowhere. I got out to enjoy the fantastic scenery. Then I heard somebody say, “There is my encourager.” It was the lady from the hike and her friend united. That began a wonderful conversation, as we say in Ireland “the craic was mighty.” After a time, the traffic moved on and we moved on never to meet again, yet from that encounter the gift that was given was given and received. These moments we call moments of grace.
How often do we find ourselves in similar situations in our everyday life -- which is really our spiritual life? How often when we need encouragement, some kindness, do we receive it? People we meet will not only pass you by, but blow by you. They blow by you as if you were invisible and even if you are a reality, they want no part of you. They are so enclosed, wrapped up, in their own agenda, the wonder of others and of all creation is sadly missed by them. They are focusing on the little picture of their narrow, losing out on the wonder-full exciting picture that is all creation.
On the other hand, on the hike, you receive greetings and smiles. You hear “hi, how are you,” “great day,” “wow this is wonderful,” “have a good one,” “joy.” This summer on South Mountain, there was the constant comment, “I cannot believe this is June.” You respond with a comment and there is many times a response. You are recognized even for a moment. Some people you meet on the hike, really listen and pay attention. Strange as it may be, when you meet them again, there is a welcome and recognition. It is this atmosphere of hospitality that makes a hike a wonder-full, warm, freeing experience. In this you receive encouragement to move on and on and on.
The dreamer’s journey continues…