Monday, September 03, 2007

It'll Flatten Out Eventually


So I'm hiking through the woods in Alaska and...

Funny. I've never written a line like that before. Alaska and me in the same sentence. But there I was, following a guide over narrow trails that led up--and I mean UP--the cliffs around a glacial lake near Skagway.

When my husband and I signed on for this combination hike-and-float excursion, no one told us it would test our hearts' ability to keep from exploding. Or our lungs' desire to slip through our ribcage and run for cover.

No one told us, "It would probably be best if you were in good shape, underweight, and athletically inclined," none of which matched our description.

The guide didn't blink when we showed up at the base of the climb. He didn't even hint that I might prefer the potholder-making class back in the village. If he snickered, he hid it well.

After the first grueling section of the climb, he called back over the heads of the seven of us hikers (all the rest of which were in shape, thin, and athletically inclined) that we'd take a moment to rest while he pointed out interesting landmarks on the trail. Foliage. Rocks. And bear scat. That's right. Piles of seeds and berries already filtered through a bear's digestive system and deposited on the trail. Just what I needed to worry about while I worked to push my lungs back into my chest cavity.

Darkness was falling as the guide--with all the breath he needed and a normal pulse rate--invited us to look down through the trees to the milky, turquoise water far, and I mean far, below us.

Come to think of it, dusk was a long way off. The darkness was related to spasming blood vessels in my brain.

I longed for him to list a few more points of interest while we stood clumped on a relatively flat part of the trail. My heart rate had only returned from nuclear meltdown to danger zone when he said, "Let's keep moving. This first section of the trail is pretty steep. Watch your step."

Uh, yeah.

Too many minutes later, the guide motioned us to another clearing so he could show us what the bear had eaten more recently. Great.

Just...keep...breathing.

"It's pretty steep here yet for a while..."

Okay. Jesus, I'll be seeing You soon. Looking forward to it.
"But the trail will eventually flatten out. The last third is fairly level land as we work our way along the shore to our put-in point for the raft."

Level. I definitely heard the word level. The trail will eventually flatten out. Those words became my theme song as I hauled my sorry carcass over the rocks and roots and up the torturous path. I would have quit. Any number of times. But I didn't want to look like a sissy, for one. And two, how would the others have gotten my body back to civilization? Just give me a shove and roll me down the cliff face? No thanks.

I took another step and another and another because of the promise that the trail would eventually flatten out.

And that's how we keep going after grief crushes us or disappointment slices us open or the path turns so steep we can't breathe.

God promised that the trail would eventually flatten out.

We can make it that far.

Then He will--as my husband did--put His arm around us and say, "What a trooper!"

Looking forward to it.

2 comments:

Eileen said...

It's level ground at the foot of the cross for those who love Jesus! So glad the climb didn't get you and the bears didn't chase you!

Dawn said...

Beautiful photo! :)

I would have been huffing and puffing right along with you. LOL

Life is just like you described. Been there, done that. You keep going because you cling to faith that things will get better. And they do!