On the Trail – Part I

One thing I’ve begun to realize about myself…

I do not think or see things the way others do, thus, God seems to speak and show me things in an odd assortment of ways.

Now before you get in the mindset of “God doesn’t audibly speak…” that’s not what I mean.  Speaking is more than verbal language.  It’s a thought, an impression, a viewpoint and even at times just that gut-feeling we get.  It can come in a song, a word, something we see or a situation we are in, or for me on a walk.

Life with a puppy means LOTS of walks!  Easy is for me to either take her to the dog park or just stick to the sidewalks as I know where they end up.  But on this cool, fall day I ventured off the norm and went down a trail.

I don’t live in the mountains.  Quite opposite…my abode is the “lowcountry”.  But there is a trail that runs along a creek overflow near my neighborhood.  I had never gone very far on this trail as it had been summer and it was pretty grown over with grass and such which in my world screams snakes!  Sidebar…this girl, though a lover of outdoors and nature, is terrified of snakes thus keeping me from this place.

But this day was different.  As I looked down the trail, fall had arrived!  Leaves had blanketed the once grassy path and the trees were showing their limbs.  It was a beautiful, cool fall morning so puppy and I ventured off the sidewalk.

Sometimes the best things happen when we step off safe and normal.

I was walking as she ran ahead of me in her own puppy world of running and squirrels and many new sniffs simply enjoying the quiet and the cool.  Then I looked up.  I saw sun’s rays filtering through the trees and landing on the leaves and space before me.  There was so much life in it, so much clarity.

Then I suddenly saw it…the web.

Okay….next to snakes the worst thing I can encounter is a spider!

I stopped for a moment and looked.  Stretched in front of me across the path was an enormous, delicate web and a very small brown spider.  The web was intricately woven with transparent strands stretching across to both sides of the path from limb to limb at my face height.  Then, as I assessed this web, I realized there was a way to avoid it and what it contained.  From the light of the sun shining on it, I could duck and go around it, as if it didn’t exist, and avoid the hindrance to my walk.

I walked as far as I could then made a turn for the walk back.  What I noticed now was the sun was at my back and things appeared less clear.  My shadow was now cast on the ground before me and it became my focus as I feared I would make a misstep on the path.

Then I suddenly stopped again and remembered…the web.

Where was it?  I looked ahead and could see nothing but a clear yet dimmer path, but I knew it was there.  Then I adjusted my position allowing the light to shine past me and once again illuminated there it was.  Disaster averted again!  Pretty proud of myself, the trip home for us both was easy.

Sitting down with my morning coffee and notebook on  my porch, a revelation came.  I had not simply been on a trail walk but there was a lesson here for me.

Lesson one…staying in the right light illuminates things that I may miss.

Had I not been facing the light, I would not have seen the web.  I would have been entangled in a mess and the spider as well.  But there was a way around it and the light illuminated it…lifted the fog if you will.   Additionally, had my focus been distracted I would also have become entangled.

Lesson two…sometimes we walk in the shadows, requiring us to remember what was illuminated in the light.

I can focus on the shadow, which is a deceptive reality, or I can remember what was already made clear in the light of the day.  Deceptive shadows lead to traps.  Traps we know are there but we just cannot see them, or choose to ignore them.  Usually they are nothing new, yet we become entangled as we do not remember and readjust our sight to see what seemingly appears to be hidden.

Life is simply a series of light and shadow experiences.

Things are illuminated to us, we avoid them with a sigh of relief and we move along our way, often forgetting the rescue .  But what if each illuminating experience was a lesson we must imprint in our brain?  What if “light moments” will serve as “life savers” in the times of shadow walking?  This is what I ponder.

Was this what David meant when he penned, “…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” (Ps 23:4)

Looking back over my life, I see many times that traps, those things that I may be bent toward or simply are thrown my way, were illuminated to me and I avoided them.  Yet, there have been and will be times that I have also fallen prey to the very same thing.  So I ask myself, what happened?

It always comes back to focus.

When I journey life looking at the distractions or walking in the shadow of what I perceive is real, life is distorted and the traps become invisible. Often the distractions also block my mind from remembering what was previously illuminated.  It is not until I am caught up in the trap I see the familiarity of it and a way it could have been averted.  When caught up in the trap fear creeps in when it could have been so easily averted.  Light walking…that’s what we are called to, and where there is no shadow of fear.

Lessons on the trail…it came to a close that day yet continues to speak to me…thoughts for another day…

Until then, stay in the light…it’s all clear there.  Expect the unexpected and trust in the brave, strong you that you are.

From one brave soul to another, take to the trails…it’s good for your Soulife!

Moving in the light,