January 7, 2022

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Climb life’s mountains with God as your constant companion

Patti LambRecently we traveled to Sedona, Ariz.—a place we’ve never visited—to enjoy a change of scenery and time outside in warmer temperatures. Sedona is known for its numerous hiking trails with breathtaking views. We looked forward to a brief respite from our regular routine, and I came away with a realization that I hope you’ll find meaningful as we embark on a new year.

On our first hiking day, my husband and I woke up early so that we could check out a particular trail that was highly recommended to hike at sunrise. The kids had just finished a challenging semester at school, so we let them sleep in while we conducted our own trail investigation to ensure our family hit the best spots during the vacation.

After watching an exquisite sunrise, my husband guided me to the trail head, and we began hiking. It was just above freezing, but the views of the red rock were mesmerizing, and I commented repeatedly how beautiful it was there. He did have to play “tow truck” a few times, when I couldn’t quite pull myself up to the next level of rock.

I excitedly talked with him about hiking “Cathedral Rock” and “Devil’s Bridge,” other highly rated trails that were on our “to-do” list.

But then something happened: I realized how high up I was and saw a ridge that I’d have to navigate with no guard rail. My legs started shaking uncontrollably. They quivered so much that I had to kneel down. I was terrified—in a state of sheer panic. I had to close my eyes.

My husband gently ushered me back down to our car.

I told him I just needed to lie down.

As we drove back to the hotel, I told him how sorry I was for wimping out and that I knew he was excited to hike the celebrated trails with glorious views. That’s when I noticed that we passed the hotel.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“I read about a beginner’s trail for hiking that you might enjoy,” he said.

“It’s not nearly as steep, and I’ll help you all the way to the summit,” he added.

With my knees still shaking, he guided me up. We hiked around the mountain so that the ascent was not so steep. I stumbled a few times, but he stayed by my side, and we reached the top together.

Later, I learned that this mountain is named “Sugarloaf.” I liked the sound of that. Sugarloaf is more my speed than “Devil’s Bridge.”

My knees were still shaking, but it was beautiful up there. After saying a morning prayer, I took a photo. It is to the right.

I was in awe of the hues of red and pink, along with the trees that dotted the landscape. It was peacefully quiet. Majestic, really.

I wasn’t brave enough to get a picture on the cliff—apparently the best photo opportunity spot—as others were lining up to do.

That day, I climbed my own mountain. (I realize experienced hikers might call it a “hill.”)

In the new year, my hope is to be present to the people and tasks God has placed on my trail. It’s time for me to stop dreaming of climbing others’ mountains and witnessing their pinnacle views.

Instead, I’m called to focus on God’s will for me and those he has entrusted to my care. When I intentionally pause to take it all in—I see the beauty on my path, trusting God as my constant companion.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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