Back in January, when the fresh new year once again sparked my overzealous goal setting, I decided to pursue my dream of hiking the 17-mile trail at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark later this year (when the weather cools and the bugs disappear). I am not certain if Jim is as excited, but he loves me enough to support my dreams, and he worries about me enough to come along.
We have walked almost daily for a number of years, so this new goal will be a stretch, but at least we have already started. “Our” plan is to lengthen our daily walks from three miles to four or five, and on the weekends, hike a rugged nature trail as often as we can. As we continue through the year, we will try to walk longer distances more regularly, first increasing our distance on level ground then moving to the hills and steeper paths as we grow stronger.
We love our weekend trail hikes, so I find this to be the best part of our preparation. This past weekend, Jim suggested that we try walking the campgrounds at Beech State Park for our first five-mile loop of the season. I was excited about our new challenge and the adventures we would have together! But as soon as we began walking, I suddenly felt weary. My body ached and I felt so sluggish that even nature’s beauty didn’t motivate me. We managed 2.5 miles (on level roads) and then I sadly suggested we return home.
I truly think I was having an unusual day, but I was so discouraged that I was tempted to give up my 17-mile dream. I told Jim that I just need to accept that I am getting older and cannot do the things I once could (yet recognizing how fortunate I am to be able to walk as much as I do).
But after some reflection, I (we 🙂 ) plan to keep pursuing this dream. I am beginning to see that the goal serves merely as the invitation, while the joy is found in our planning, pursuing, and progressing. “The joy is in the journey,” others have said, and I agree. I love walking each morning to greet the sunrise and thank God for the day. I cherish hiking with Jim, as we move from our busy places into nature’s sanctuary. I treasure feeling the nearness of God through God’s beautiful creation. I delight in taking care of my body and my soul while walking in reverent contemplation.
Keeping this goal before us, we will take each next step, enjoy the hikes and places, stretch ourselves as often as possible, and then – perhaps in October – we will discover how far we have traveled and how well we have prepared. We may never do the hike. But we will have explored and hiked and tried and ached and discovered and savored and relished and dreamed and laughed and loved and helped and listened and paused and noticed and accepted and wondered and worshiped and delighted and progressed and improved…
and enjoyed the journey.
You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11 NRSV)
Photo by Karen (actually, Jim), Winfield, WV
Bible verse found at https://www.biblegateway.com/