Ever climb a mountain? I have… well, sort of… See, I have a bit of a wild side tucked away that shows itself now ‘n then!
Recently, I read a short story of a 75-year-old man who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine’s Mt. Katahdin.* Though he dealt with a few health issues along the way, I was impressed with his successful endeavor. His story reminded me how much I’ve admired others who have hiked that trail over the years. I’ve even wished I could have hiked that trail, or climbed mountains, in my younger and stronger days. Yet, as I said, I did… sort of… and that event may well have sparked my interest, though now only lived out in reading the stories of others.
"I remember when…" How often haven’t we heard that, or said it ourselves? Well, I do remember when, back in the spring of ’73, I climbed one of those ever-changing ridges at Chimney Bluffs State Park in Huron, NY, east of Sodus Point along the southern shore of Lake Ontario - ever changing hard-packed sand formations formed from the strong winds blowing off the lake. Visiting my friend, Kathy, for a spring weekend our senior year of high school, we joined the church’s Youth Group that Sunday afternoon. The East Palmyra Christian Reformed Church and Christian School had been a big part of life until my family moved to New Jersey when I was in 4th grade.
Now, walking past a section of bluffs, a young man in our group decided to climb a ridge. Asking if anyone wanted to join him, I found myself the sole volunteer. Beginning our climb up the narrow ridge, he led as I followed. Learning where and how to place my feet from him, I found that I totally enjoyed this new challenge! One had to be sure-footed, like a mountain goat, in several spots or risk a tumble off the ridge’s peak as it narrowed higher up. Reaching an intersecting upward ridge, he recommended we change positions at the gap. In fact, thinking about it now, I realize he must have had previous experience to gain the knowledge and skill he appeared to have.
The ridge down was steeper and narrower, and he felt it was best to face forward to see our way as we walked. He also thought it best if I went first so he could guide me better. Leading the way, I started down very carefully. At one point, I slipped, earning a scraped-up leg in reward, but he grabbed my hand to help stabilize me… as I gathered my wits to contemplate the next step.
Admittedly, starting the trek down, and seeing our height above the beach, had left me a bit scared compared to the easier hike up. I remember thinking, “What did I get myself into?” Now, not so sure about my sanity in joining this venture, I also knew I had no choice but to continue on. Slowly and carefully we made our way down, step by step, and then…
Taking the final step at the bottom of the ridge found me grinning from ear to ear! I did it! As tall, peaked and narrow as most bluffs are, the first ridge up was easy, while the ridge down was definitely narrower and more difficult. But, I had challenged myself and those inner fears, succeeding beyond my wildest expectation! Successfully traversing the steep and narrow ridges, returning safely to the sandy beach and friends below, was an exhilarating experience! Despite the fears that crept in, I overcame them! Loving every second of that climb, fears ‘n all, I would gladly do it all over again!
You know, there’s something to be said about pursuing a dream, and, with God’s help and steady determination, reaching the pinnacle to savor success. Realizing that thought covers a lot of ground, we can openly face the challenges in many areas of our life, learning the lessons each step forward holds. Ahh, those carefree days of our youth as we faced our mountains and earned successes! Those days of uncomplicated friendships and simpler times that bring special memories to treasure as the years rush onward…
Do You Remember When…
Linda A. Roorda
Do you remember when the days were long
And we made our fun beneath a bright sky,
When neighborhood kids called out to us “come”
As we fled confines for the great outdoors?
Do you remember a time of few cares
When our word was good, and trust was implied,
When our biggest fret was the end of games
As the dark enclosed to shoo us inside?
Do you remember when we took our chances
Taking on risks seeming without fear,
Acquiring skills we’d not otherwise gain
If safely ensconced at technology’s beck?
Yet you can’t go back, back to what was
It’s never the same, the moment that passed,
But memories linger, frozen in place
When you recapture the essence of time.
Within those moments the mind has preserved
Are sights and sounds with laughter and tears,
Images held dear to our heart and soul
Retrieved at will for nostalgia’s cheer.
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May not be reproduced without permission of author.
*April 2018 Guideposts, “Soul Trail – How old is too old?” by Soren West.
"Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda. See more at her site HERE.