2021 is nearly half over already and things seem to finally be getting better! 2020 was a year most of us would like to forget with the virus and shutdowns, masks and social distancing. All seemed well in mid 2019… then suddenly the path we had been walking turned into a series of up and down switchbacks where you’re not quite sure of the corners or where they lead so you tread a little lighter more cautious and move a little slower. It has been rather like many of the trails on Isle Royale – up, down, left, right…up again then down and around…finally ending in the most beautiful, serene lake with gently lapping waves licking the rocky shore surrounded by white birch trees. The cool clean water felt so good on my trail weary feet as they dangled off the edge of a rock, taking a much deserved break munching on trail mix…Ahh!!
But the trails call and every respite comes to an end so you lace up your shoes, wriggle your pack back on, grab your walking stick and take that next step. But why? Why would you not stay right where you are in the beauty and comfort of such a place? Why not build a cabin right on the edge of the lake with a nice front porch with a rustic chair or two, put your feet up and watch the sunset? Even now after almost 30 years I can still see the ripples of the wind on the water and smell the cool, clean air and feel the warm morning sun on my face…I want to be there, even now… But there are places we cannot stay. Places whose sole purpose is to become a memory – a sign post if you like – showing where a choice was made and a corner turned. A wayside is just a wayside, no matter how beautiful and inviting; it is a destiny that calls you back to the trail.
I cannot say what the rest of this year will bring. Will we all finally be released from our isolation? Will we stop fearing each other? Will we tolerate more and condemn less? Will we begin again to value character rather than color? Can we reaffirm our sense of pride in our nation and rally to build others up rather than tear them down over petty differences? So much as changed in a mere two years…I hope we do not just settle for this new normal. Often big changes begin with small steps and those small steps happen sometimes very early on in the process. I seems like we have finally successfully navigated up, down and around all the switchbacks and are now our little rest by the lake munching on trail mix and wondering if it is time to move on… Perhaps the Good Lord has a few more pieces of the puzzle to put back in place. Maybe one of them is us showing him that we are willing when the time does come.
I’m not entirely sure what the destination is, but I do know where it is – it is farther on, up ahead, around the corner, and just over the hilltop. Our only job is to take that next step forward, and then another…and another one…