Wednesday, August 20, 2014

When the Blaze is Out of Your Line of Vision

Our hike this past weekend took us to Long Pond Ironworks State Park-Stonetown Circular Trail in the Wyanokies in North Jersey. Neither of us had ever ventured out that way, but we sure will be going back! It was beautiful, and some of the leaves were even turning already!
This is the view from the summit, which was quite a challenge to find!  We followed a very detailed trail hike guide (which Brian dubbed, "The Talkabout"--because they talk about the hike) from the NY NJ Trail Conference website---a lot more reliable than my out-of-date book! However, it was a bit tough to find the blazes at first. There weren't a lot and they weren't in obvious places! At one point, we clambered over a plethora of rocks, only to find out the path was nowhere in sight. Apparently, we'd passed it. As we backtracked, we found the blaze up a hill way off of "eye level."

Once we rediscovered the White blazed trail, it was pretty much straight uphill for a short climb, but once we reached the summit? Wow, what a spectacular view. It's always worth the climb!

What I wasn't able to capture was the view of the mighty Monksville Reservoir in Wanaque. This thing is HUGE (it is the source of drinking water for Jersey City), but there was an equally huge power line right in front of us and there was no way around it to take a picture.

It occurred to me while we were clambering and climbing that our spiritual journey is often similar. We clamber and climb only to find out that we've sort of lost our way. We might think we're on the right path; it must be this way. It seems like the right way, even though there is no clear direction, no clear path. But the summit is ahead, so it must be this way. It's GOT to be! And when we get to where we think the summit is, there's no access, no way to get to it. It's not right after all, and we need to backtrack. And sometimes, clambering down over those rocks is more difficult than the uphill climb. 

And when we finally see the trail blaze, we wonder how we could have missed it. Even though it was out of our line of vision, it was still there. If we'd been paying better attention, we would have seen it, and avoided all that time and energy wasted on going in the wrong direction. But instead of beating ourselves up over that, we ought to continue on. After all, we're on the right path now!
After resting a bit and taking a selfie (I'm still trying to get the hang of this thing!) we continued on, following the Talkabout until we merged with a section of the NJ Highlands Trail. Once we were on that, it was a delightful hike. And Lucy even found a few bodies of water to swim in. Now that she's a swimming dog, it's like she's catching up on all that she missed out on. She goes crazy when she sees water! And of course, she waits until she's right next to me to shake. Thank you, Lucy.
What do you do when the path you thought you should be taking turns out not to be the one you're meant to be on? Do you bushwhack through the brambles in anger or impatience to create access anyway, thereby veering completely off the path and pushing open doors that aren't meant for you to open? Do you scramble hastily back down in fear or embarrassment, falling and skinning your knees as you try desperately to find your way back to the safety of the path you were on, even if it means returning to where you began and never finding the right path? Or do you backtrack, searching quietly...slowly...patiently...for the blaze, that voice that will tell you, This is the way, walk in it (Is 30:21)? When the blaze is out of your line of vision, don't beat yourself up for not seeing it. Continue on, knowing that you're headed in the right direction, and the hike ahead will be a glorious and delightful one!

Blessings Along the Blazed Path,

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