The first few steps were fairly easy.
I guess that’s typical of these kinds of things.
It felt kind of like starting out on a hike through the woods. The beginning steps came easily. Wonder-filled eyes gazed around at the beauty of the trees, the sky, the grass, even the dirt trail.
After a while, though, the trees all looked the same, the sky only held a blazing sun that beat down as the walking continued, the grass was, well, just grass, and that trail was more painful with each roll of the hiking boot.
Now, I no longer wish to stop and take it all in. I just want to get to the end of the trail. At times, I wonder if I’ll even make it that far.
Lately, my life is following this same pattern.
For a while, the steps are light. I look around with wonder and love for all I see. I feel the presence of the One who saved me. There is peace within.
It doesn’t last, though. In time, the steps are harder and harder to take. Each trial, each heartache, seems to add extra pounds to the boots I wear.
I am in a difficult part of the journey.
Physically I am struggling. A quick move of my head sends my world spinning. There is a strange sensation in the nerves of my foot as well as my face. My activities are limited. Exhaustion is overwhelming.
Emotionally I am struggling. The old adage, “When it rains, it pours” holds true. Today I was called to the rescue of a child in a predicament. The result of that predicament sent waves of discouragement through me–waves so high I felt for sure I would be overcome by them.
Spiritually I am struggling.
How ashamed I am to admit that.
I know of people going through waters much deeper than I am. They are swimming, keeping their head above the water. Their faith is strong.
I cry, wishing my faith could be that strong.
Eucharisteo. It’s a word I learned from a book I am reading. It means “to give thanks”.
Today, although my heart wasn’t quite there, my head started to give thanks in the midst of the waves.
Thanks for the ability I still do have to work. Thanks for medication that can stop the spinning for a while. Thanks for safety for the child caught in what could have been a dangerous predicament. Thanks that the predicament happened only 13 miles from home–not 40, the distance from which she traveled. Thanks for technology to call the one who usually takes care of these kinds of things but is hundreds of miles away out of town for work.
I was hoping once my head started this process of eucharisteo, my heart would follow.
Discouragement is still very much alive in my heart. I don’t know how things will work out with any of the situations that have plagued me today and the last few days. I am scared. And ashamed to admit that as well.
It seems often my spiritual journey is one step forward and two steps back. Or three steps back. Or four. I don’t seem to get very far.
Maybe what is important, though, is that I keep walking. When the trees all look the same, when the sky holds nothing but rain or blazing hot sun, when the grass is dried up and dying and the dirt path is barely walkable. Maybe there is a small victory in moving forward when I so want to quit the hike.
Because I believe when my hike is finished, it will all have been worth it. When there is rest for the weariness and cold water to relieve the thirst, and I may actually be able to see how the struggles and fear and pain and predicaments played a role in my finishing the journey…and eucharisteo will be experienced at its fullest.
This part of my hike is long. It’s frustrating. It’s scary. It’s more often than not very lonely.
One foot. The other foot. Again. Again. That’s four steps forward.
Now to just keep going that direction. Alone right now. Tired. In pain. Sad. But moving.
Eucharisteo–in all things. I think this will take a lifetime to learn.