I did not snap a picture of this part of the journey. It was messy, dangerous, and my arms were heavy laden with a latte, my book, a towel, and my purse. As I traveled alone I remember thinking, "I hope nobody is watching me." How clumsy I must have looked half bent over trying to keep my balance, holding on to branches to pull myself up over mounds of mud and trying not to slip down the muddy hillside into the flooded inlet. I struggled through this alone with my load along this slippery slope until finally arriving close enough to the beach where I could hop down about 3 feet and land in the sand.
Eventually I found a place to rest and read. The weather was absolutely perfect!
And I got to thinking: As people journey through life no two people's paths are ever exactly the same. The scenery and level of difficulty will always have some variations.
On this trip I was visiting a friend who had just experienced some loss. For a short while our paths intersected and together we walked through the grief until it was time for me to continue on.
For a few weeks now I have been trying to reconcile, to put into words what happens to the view of our own individual paths when we choose to walk alongside someone else on their journey through life.
How can you walk down your own path and walk alongside someone else on theirs at the same time when their view is so much different than what your's is?
The word connection keeps coming to mind.
When the paths we are on cross, even if only for a short time, there is a connection. So, we stop and talk Enjoy the view. Talk about disappointments we've had along the way. When there is history in the relationship we talk about how different this path looks compared to how we imagined it would be. Sometimes we take note of the dreary view, or sometimes we share the joys we've seen along the way.
But I was still struggling with finding words for how our paths look when we take a long walk down someone else's path with them
Then yesterday a long time friend of mine reminded me of something, and I found the words I was looking for.
She reminded me of a time years ago when we went on an inner-city missions trip to San Francisco. Part of that trip included each team member being blindfolded for a period of time. I fed her soup when she was blindfolded. When it was my turn for the handicap I had to board a crowded city bus. I couldn't see anything, but she was my guide through that dark and unstable period of time.
When I think of times I have traveled alongside someone for longer periods of time it was a dark time in their lives, a time when fear, doubt, grief, trauma or insecurities blinded them. People experience dark times when the future is uncertain, when doubt tests their faith, when the Truth of who God is in their life is either forgotten or yet to be grasped, or when life throws a curve ball and all of a sudden everything that was familiar and comfortable has slipped away.
During these times we need the company of one another in the darkness. We need to take a detour into the darkness of that friend. However, we are not called to be a light for them. That's Jesus' job. We are called to bring Jesus to them as the light in that dark place. It's not about what we can do for them, it's about what He can do, what He says and where He leads. Together you follow Him until the path becomes clear again.
Those are the most beautiful paths I have ever walked on. Their path became my path as we walked with Christ through the darkness. Whether it was me emerging from my own dark time with a friend by my side or vice versa. This is what gives our journey beauty. This is where true connection, community and love is found.
It's amazing! When you look back you realize that the light of Christ lit the way the whole time and the connection of companionship was an anchor of hope that gave strength for each step forward.
"What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this."