Hiking Divinity’s earth
Hand in hand
Pathways to new lands
– George F. Maynard, III (Trey)
Years ago, Trey and I embarked on a hike that had been recommended – Sam’s Knob Summit on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
It was late March and the afternoon was surprising warm for so early in the mountain Spring. The trek soon delivered us to a humble meadow that sat meekly beneath the spectacular mountain we were about to climb and ended abruptly at its base. Long grasses, still brown from the winter blew gently in the light wind and a few courageous wildflowers, defiant in the face of frosts surely left to come, were valiantly making an early show of spotty color.
We made our way across the meadow ascending the 400 feet steadily back and forth among the switchbacks and imagined the wide view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that awaited us. Tricky rocks, thorny winter limbs and devious roots required special attention here and there. The trees were like shrubbery seeming as if they had never decided for sure if they wanted to be tall bushes or stubby trees.
As the ascent grew steeper, the air became cooler and grayer. But engaged in talk and making the grade, we did not notice. At last, we climbed a set of wooden stairs that stretched over a particularly steep and rough decline below and feeling a bit like Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark, we put one foot in front of the other until we scaled higher. Shortly thereafter, we reached the rocky pinnacle of Sam’s Knob, which rose 6045 feet above sea level and paused to take in the view we had been promised.
It was not there.
In fact, nothing was there.
A dense gray fog hung heavy erasing any potential panoramic vista view. It was as if dark walls had materialized on the mountaintop with no windows. No trace of the meadow below. No view of the mountains.
We could barely see our hands stretched before our faces as we gazed into the shroud that so thoroughly cloaked the rest of the world.
As it turns out, the Divine had a teachable moment in store for us that day. But it was only part one of the lesson. The second came when we made the same hike a few weeks later.
On that day, our arrival at the top brought us a spectacular view of the Divine creation that was vast and glorious.
We had no idea and still do not of what any given day will bring our way. No matter how dark the future looks or how sunny it begins. The view is eternal, however, whether or not we can actually see it – just as the Divine Spirit is always there with us.
So I thank that Great Spirit, of whom we are all sparks – for reminding us so darkly and so clearly, of the Presence and Assurance that sometimes comes to us as a mysterious and daunting great fog and sometimes as a lightness and vastness unimaginable.
We are not alone.