Continued from the previous post.
The trails in the Adirondacks are marked with colorful tin circles, about four inches in diameter, that are nailed to the trees every several dozen yards or so. The paths you are supposed to follow on any particular trail are usually clear-cut, but they can become iffy at times, especially when crossing some thick patches of forest. But if you look up every now and then, sure enough, the friendly yellow circles will greet you at a forthcoming tree, saying, “Hello again, friend! Yes, you are on the right track! Continue this way towards more delights of the Adirondack forest!” I became very attached to these yellow markers on this hike, as they were a point of security, confirming that I was not veering off into a fortnight of survival skills in six million acres of the wild.
As my hike continued, it started raining and then gradually progressed from a sprinkle to a more committed precipitation. No problem, I told myself. A rainy day in the Adirondacks with God is better than a thousand elsewhere. I tried to focus once again on the glories of God’s natural woodlands, in an effort to distract myself from thinking about The Man Who Died From a Heart Attack While He was Hiking. There was a beautiful stream to my left, cut deep into a rocky gorge; with a series of cascading waterfalls marking it’s descent from one ledge to the next. I stopped to soak it in. Though, literally, now I was soaking, because the rain had advanced to a heavy downpour that demanded my full attention. I pulled out the bright orange poncho from my backpack and put it on, pulling the plastic hood over my head. I was now dry, but it felt like I was also participating in some kind of NASA echo chamber experiment – I heard a plastic reverb with every step, every breath, every pounding drip of rain. “Houston, we have a problem! I look like an idiot!”
I continue undeterred, persisting through the deluge. This is my time with God.
I started reciting to God a stream of phrases the Psalmist might use. “Thank you, Oh Lord, Praise you for your loving kindness and all your mercies. Bless your holy name, Oh my soul.” This was working. I concentrated more on my meditation. “Thank you for all your blessings, God you are magnificent, thank…you…umm…”“Where did the trail go?”
I whipped my head in all directions, looking for a path. Nothing. Just a mirror of repeating generic forests on all sides. No trail. My heart started pounding. The adrenaline was pumping as my body geared up for a major fright event, even though I hadn’t really given myself enough time to confirm that I was lost.
“Remain calm!” I admonished myself. “God is with me.” But seriously, dude, where is the trail?
“Stay calm. I will not die out here. I will not die alone.”
Of course not.I will die together with God. He’ll be watching as I slowly wander in confused circles to a slow, protracted death on my Godcation. That must be His plan for me. Just accept it. “No, don’t be ridiculous. I can’t be that far off the trail.” I turned around and took a few steps from where I had been hiking, and searched frantically. No yellow markers. I walked a few steps to the left and scanned the forest. No yellow circles. I’m getting dizzy. It’s pouring. The visibility has become horrible. I noticed that my boots and socks are soaked right through, making squishy sounds with every step, like they are filled with jello. Lord, please help me. I’m verging on a flat-out panic attack.
I should not have made fun of those people in the Incident Reports. Surely, this is my well-deserved punishment.
After a few more minutes of wandering, I stopped altogether, leaned against a tree, and prayed. Lord, I am losing it. This is crazy. Help me to find the trail. I listened to the torrential pattering of the rain against the hood of my poncho, like the incessant clicking of a dozen typewriters. My team of writers sealing my fate with a tragic ending.
I regrouped. On a hunch, I took a few steps to the North, in the one direction I hadn’t covered yet. Sure enough, there in the distance, I made out a little yellow marker on a tree. “Hello, friend!” it said, in a squeaky, rattled little voice. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, then ran up and hugged the tree.