Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A lesson from the muddy paths of life

Several years ago when I began hiking with my husband Bill, he suggested that I get some hiking poles like his. I declined. I didn’t need them. And I always thought that hikers looked kind of silly using them, like something out of the Sound of Music. Ok, he said.

On one of the first extended hikes that we made with our friends Eddie and Becky, Bill offered me use of one of his poles. It was early spring. The trails were muddy and wet. No thanks, I replied. I don’t need it. Within about ten minutes of his offer, I slipped on a patch of black ice and skidded about twenty yards down the trail. I ended up with a bruise on my hip the size of Nebraska.

I then gladly took my husband’s sage advice and purchased a pair of poles.

The trails have grown longer and steeper. And I have found that the poles are very useful on the ascent, helping me to climb up the hills a little easier. But on the descents, the poles have become vital. Veteran mountaineer Ed Viesturs says that the hardest part of mountain climbing is the descent. That is when people get in trouble.

So on my last hike, while musing on a long quiet stretch up a hill, I thought about the poles and their spiritual connection. The two poles are like prayer and the Word. They keep me grounded. They help when my course is steep, but they keep me from falling when life starts going downhill fast. Prayer and the Word.

Keep grounded. Keep going.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From whence does my help come?

My help comes from the LORD,

Who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121. 1-2

Press on!

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