As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I returned from a 7 day road trip yesterday. I had not planned to go to Village Creek (villagecreek.net) – where my kids were attending camp – but I landed there on Thursday night anyway. On Friday, I spent a lot of time by myself (more time that I would normally at least), took a walk in the afternoon, etc.
In the evening, the kids desparately wanted me to see them in their commercial “talent show.” It was funny, and I’m glad I could oblige.
Once it was over, though, there was a pull on my heart that said “go.” And then I started walking…and the pull said, “come.” I didn’t really feel like there was any discussion to be had. I have only been to Pulpit Rock (on top of a hill/cliff on camp property) once before – Adventure Camp weekend at the end of year 1 of Leadership class. I had forgotten that the climb to Pulpit itself was as daunting as the tasks once we reached the top. That time, I was determined to succeed at the task (high ropes course across). This time, I felt I had no choice. Not determination but a pull…a promise of something at the end of the journey. The other time, I had others with me. This time, I was alone…but so not alone. The other time, there was a tree climb, a tightrope to cross, and something to prove. This time – just a pull toward…presence.
I hate walking uphill…Pulpit Rock is about as uphill as they come. I thought that I hate walking through water. The path to Pulpit Rock goes over the stream. The first stopping point (where I could have turned back) was the stream without a bridge. I stood at the edge – threw my hands in the air – and walked across…through the water. At first, I was shocked by the cold, and then I welcomed it. My shoes were wet, but I didn’t mind.
I didn’t really know my way, but I intuitively followed the path..being led almost. The first part of the path is difficult enough for someone out of shape, but that is not the hardest part…the hardest parts were yet to come. I just kept going…there was no turning back…I was called. The path narrows and steepens, and I start to notice things that I’m to learn on the journey..the journey itself has things to teach me, not just the destination.
Lesson #1: Not everyone makes this journey. The path becomes less and less worn the farther I go.
Lesson #2: There are lots of reasons to turn back (fatigue, fear, pain).
Lesson #3: Looking too far ahead on the path causes me to stumble where I am at right now.
Lesson #4: Looking ahead causes fear and encourages me to return.
Lesson #5: The journey is accomplished by placing one foot in front of the other. Repeat. It’s just one step…a decision to take just one step…and another and another and another.
Lesson #6: Pay attention to what is right in front of you or you will get hurt (horrible weeds with pokey things caused me to bleed a few time…still pulling them out of various places).
Lesson #7: Pain is not reason to turn around.
Lesson #8: Keep your hands free (water bottle was not a good choice even though I was so thirsty) – you may need them…balance is important as are those times to recognize when you need to stop a fall. (translation – don’t get so busy every day….eesh!).
Lesson #9: Don’t rush. There is beauty on the journey. Don’t be so intent on the destination that you miss the beauty of the path.
Lesson #10: Unexpected things will bless you (a deer a few feet ahead and an eagle soaring above…).
The hike up the hill is not an easy one for me, and I am so thankful to be alone so that I could go at the pace I needed to go, not worry about what anyone else thought, and just do it. As I reached the actual Pulpit Rock area, the next challenge presented itself. Panting and out of breath with shakey legs, I surveyed the daunting stature and studied the potential paths to the top. None seemed doable though I remember coming down one of them on the last journey. I realize that I’ve come this far, and this is an accomplishment. I could stop here and feel good about what I’ve done. But I’m so close to the goal – and I keep being called to go further. “Come.” There really didn’t seem to be the option of returning without getting to the top. I found a path that I thought would be safe or something…just looked like the best option…and I started to climb. Halfway up, I looked backward to the bottom and remember, “don’t look down!!!! just keep climbing.” My legs continue to shake. Steadily, cautiously, I climbed. One hand in front of the other. One step upward. Just keep climbing.
When I reach the top, I let out a laugh. No one knew where I was. No one had any idea. And there I was – on the top of a large rock stature. I glanced around and realized that there was so much to the climb itself, so many things to overcome. It just didn’t seem that hard tackling it the way that I did. No competition. No rush. Just climb. I immediately glanced over to the tightrope – the daunting task from before. How did I do that? I remembered – one step at a time, determined to succeed, and with a man on the other side, calmly coaching me across…
“I am here.” In my head, maybe?
“I am here.” No…a reassuring…sense…not a voice…and then a peaceful, calming, end of the sigh feeling washed over me.
I spread my arms, surveyed the skyline – I was so high. I closed my eyes, breathe in, held it, and sighed out…wind blows around me…not forcefully but persistently. The sun will not be up for long, I realize.
I sat down and felt the crevice beneath me. I lay down and realize that the crevice fits me. Holds me…protectively and safely but not tightly.
“I am here.”
To the left, storm clouds begin to form.
To the right, bright skies remain.
Though the storm billows warn in the west, the glory of the Lord shines in the east.
Eyes closed, heart surrendered. Laying there…realizing that I could stay forever (if I had a pillow)…I know that I have to start the descent down. I can’t live here. God’s presence is not just here…though in the quiet and the beauty, He is definitely easy to see, hear, and…feel.
Where are you, God?
“I am here.”
I know you are…why can’t I feel you this way below?
“I am here.”
What am I supposed to do with myself?
Can’t I just stay here forever?
Time to go. The sun is going down quickly now…there is no time to spare. Before I know it, I will be enveloped in darkness. I crawl down and realize that I am scared. So scared. Climbing upward is not scary, but going down has so many scary parts to it. I could slip. I could trip. I could…fall.
And I don’t want to be leaving anyway….torn.
Once I reach the bottom of the rock itself, I begin a steady pace down the path. My legs continue to shake. Returning from the rock has lessons to be taken to heart. Once I hit the grass, I am able to make it down at a steady pace…returning to the known…there is some comfort there…but I am changed. Today has changed me. When I reach the stream, I cross through it without hesitation. The cool water feels good on my hot feet. I stop and stand in the moving water and realize that there is something to be learned here as well. Stop by the cool waters…allow them to restore….
Before I know it, I am back at the Activity Center…back to the chapel time opening…back to being a wife, mother, and….and….and….
On the top of Pulpit Rock, I had only one title – Daughter of the Most High. Created, known, loved, cherished, forgiven, and purposed…
What will I do with this? When will I go back….
And how do I take the knowledge down the hill with me…allow it to take root in my heart…allow the change to remain….