There is a walk I sometimes take here on our mountain that requires a steep ascent at the end (hence, the reason it is not a well-worn path). There are two ways to make this steep climb home – one is a twisty, turny, long, gradual ascent and the other is straight up and a bit of a hike, but it’s shorter. I usually take the twisty, turny longer road, not ever being in much of a hurry to leave the beautiful, peaceful woods.
One day last summer, I was feeling lazy and hot and didn’t want to take the longer, ‘easier’ way home. I just wanted to get there. So up the very steep hill I headed.
After slogging along for a bit, I looked up at the hill and thought, “Egads. So far. Ugh.” and wondered if I’d ever get to the top. It was slightly overwhelming. The climb was hard plus I had stumbled over a stump when I was looking up at how far I had to go. Hmmm…. maybe I should have gone the other way….
I decided to just watch the path and take one step at a time, trying to enjoy the slow climb as I went. Taking one small step at a time was manageable and not overwhelming. I kept my eyes on my feet and on the path so I wouldn’t trip over anything else. And oh hey! Look! I found treasures along the way! What a nice surprise. I found a sun-bleached, tiny snail shell, which is amazing because I have never once seen a snail up here in all these years. I found a glittery rock, a bright blue bird feather, a cute tiny pinecone and several pretty flowers that I gathered as I went. I had a handful of sparkly treasures that delighted me.
I was so busy watching my path for pretty little things, that when I finally looked up, to my surprise, I was at the top. Well, huh! I hadn’t even noticed the difficulty of the climb any more after I started to focus on one step at a time and looking for surprises along the way.
As I was walking home, this made me think of the times I have gone through grief and sorrow. How I realized that one step at a time is absolutely the only way out of it, having to slowly learn how to climb this impossible mountain of grief. I thought, “What a perfect example of how to walk out of the darkness of grieving. One small step at a time, don’t look at how far you have to go or how steep the climb. Focus on this day, this next small step, not tomorrow, not next month or next year, otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed and want to give up. So when the very steep hill has to be climbed just focus on today – trusting that grace is sufficient for this day, this hour and that the Lord will make sure you find treasures and blessings along the way.”
If we are humble and open to it what we find along the way is God Himself, the greatest Treasure of all, a closer walk with Him and interestingly, freedom. Pain can open our eyes like nothing else. It can move us from, “I knew You in my head but now I know You in my heart.” Pain and grief break the heart open for His peace and joy to enter. It may seem impossible but I have found it to be true.
And now instead of pretty feathers, shells and flowers in my hands, I have peace, joy and contentment filling my heart. And such deep gratitude, that I never ever had before. Oh what amazing, wonderful, blessed treasures those are to find along the way. And I say, “Thank You Lord. Thank You for this path I had to climb and for all the treasures I found along the way. “
– Alisha B. Nelson is a city girl learning to live off grid on a mountain in Montana with a country boy. She says it makes for an endless supply of funny stories, even if they weren’t always funny at the time. You can follow her on the Roanoke Star as well as her blog: funnysideofthemountain.blogspot.com