Many years ago I went on a vacation with my family to the mountains of North Carolina.
We decided to take a hike one afternoon on one of the trails we spotted off the side of the road.
We started off very eager and excited about the hike. We had a small backpack with three water bottles and a couple of cereal bars. My daughter was placed in a pack on her daddy’s back and my eight year old son took the lead.
We were traipsing through the woods singing and picking up a pretty leaf or smooth stone that my son admired.
As we traveled deeper into the woods the sun barely penetrated the thick tree canopy. The trail narrowed and it was becoming more difficult to stay on the path. Foliage brushed against us and I began to feel the smallest stirrings of panic. Did we know where we were? Were we going to find a way out?
At one point we stopped at a small stream to give the kids a rest and a snack. When we resumed, I was carrying my daughter and my husband had our son on his shoulders. The weight of her slowed me down and now I was trudging, huffing and puffing as we kept pushing onward.
Just when I thought I could not take another step, we saw a clearing ahead. I put my daughter down and together we ran to the light. When we came out of the woods, we found ourselves in a huge meadow surrounded on all sides by mountains. It was warm, sunny and filled with wildflowers and milkweed.
I spun around laughing feeling light and free. It was a small Eden tucked between the majestic mountains. Cows grazed nearby and when we picked up the trail across the meadow, it led us through a field of corn! The far side of the cornfield was a short climb to the end of the trail and the road. Our car was parked a short distance away.
When asked to describe a metaphor for life, I think back to that special hike in the mountains. There have been many times when I feel weighed down, when I’m moving slowly through the darkness, and I cannot find the path. I keep moving forward, hoping that somehow I will stumble my way back into the light.
When I finally come to the meadow, I am grateful to be back in the sunlight. I feel free to enjoy the beauty surrounding me. But sometime ago I realized there is great beauty in those dark woods, too.
I need to find a way to appreciate the beauty in both the darkness and the light.