It was first hike up to Mallard lake. Last year I hiked the Mallard Creek trail. To be honest, I had some reservations about this year's choice. A ranger informed me the lake trail was a little more challenging, translation, a steeper trail. She was quick to add that the scenery was so much better. When I heard that word, steeper, I immediately was countered with the question, “Are there any switchbacks?". She replied, with a reassuring smile, "Yes, there are". What a relief that was. On difficult hikes I look forward to the switchbacks. They provide a time and a space, to regroup a little, so as to have the energy, and strength to meet the challenge of the next stage of the climb. As it is on hikes, so it is with The Hike we call “The Spiritual Journey”. Here is a thought, on the hikes we choose to go on we cannot plan the switchbacks, nature has control of that. On the hike of your every life, however, you are in control (and only you can do it) of where those switchbacks moments are. We now call those who do not take this healthy step ”victims”. Those who do take the healthy step are called “survivors”. Those in the first group are referred to as “human doers”, and those in the second are referred to as “human beings”. God created us to live the life as free human beings….Come on switchbacks.!!!!
Well, let’s get back to this hike. What a hike it was, otherwise I would not be writing about it. As I made my way up the trail, I was struck with the peace, calmness and serenity. Looking back, I do not know why this was so. Was it because I, myself, was in a good place, or was the trail itself, and all that it had to offer. (How about ," both/and", you may well say?) The trail was somewhat challenging, but soft and gently underfoot. You kinda bounced of the sod as you moved along. It was great. So wonder-full, that the thought came to me, this should be named "The Serenity Trail to Mallard Lake".
I journeyed along, lost in thought, enjoying the feeling of being immersed in Yellowstone. I was gradually making my way up the trail. Not only were there switchbacks, there were also little hills to go up and down. I was really enjoying myself. Not too much though. I was keeping a close eye out for, Mr. or Mrs Bear. You see, earlier in the week, I came within about 20 yards of a bear! I was not able to decide whether it was a Mrs., a Mr., a Miss or a Master, that bear took off so fast! Take it from me, bears are fast. I am so thankful he/she decided to run away from me, and not at me. I am told they can hit speeds of between 35-40 mph. Later in the week I saw a huge grizzlie. He was about a quarter of a mile away. I have him tucked away, in the safety of my camera, he is no threat there.
So, here I am, lost in thought among the trees. I, however, have no view of the sky. That is not good. Suddenly, I heard the sound of thunder. It was away in the distance, so it was nothing to worry about. So, I went back to being lost in the joy, and pleasure of the hike. There was another peel of thunder. This one got my attention, why? Because this time, there was lightening before the thunder rolled. I looked up, and saw that the sky had darkened in the East, but there was blue sky to the west. So, off I went, keeping the thought of the blue sky uppermost in my mind, and not paying too much attention to the ever darkening sky. Not even the drops of rain got my attention. Not a smart move, but my best. (I failed to read all the signs of the time and place I found myself in.) That was my best decision at the time. My best, but not the best. The right one was not made and as usual there was a price to be paid. Was this the first time in my life this has happened? Of course not. This has happened may times before, and there is every chance it will happen again. As long as I am a limited human being, this will happen again and again, until the day I die. It is our friend, death who will free us to live the fullness of live. In the mean time, we are to struggle, on a daily basis, with what it means to be a, spiritual being having a human experience.
Well the raindrops became more frequent, and there was more of them than there was before. So, here I was at somewhere between 7,500 and 8,000 feet. There is wind, rain, thunder and lightning. To make matters worse, the rain was then hail, and it is freezing cold. I have not been in this kind of weather since I left Ireland. In Ireland, mother nature would never play a trick like this. Here I am in Summertime. A time like winter has entered, to darken the joyful light . It was, and never is, a lasting darkness. When the light does appear again, as it always does, what will be the truths that have become a part of this new reality. This new reality is: life as I live it today.
It would be too long of a blog, a sermon yes, to bring me down the mountain. So I will leave Joe at say, 7,700 feet. There is lightening, wind, freezing hail or rain, peeling thunder, numbing hands, heading for home, and lessons to be learned.
See you next week, as the wandering continues, or so, I sincerely hope.