We set off on a new family activity a few weeks ago. Hiking. I hiked 5 years ago in the California redwoods for a few hours with the other adult in our family, my husband. I remember enjoying that hike more than I’d ever enjoyed a hike before. Rustling wind. Crunching pine needles. Sunlight streaming through thick branches. A rest from the clamor of life. A time when our family could enjoy a hike together seemed so distant I don’t think the idea even crossed my mind!
Our family hike consisted of a 10 minute walk up the street to a rugged trailhead. Trash and broken concrete provided the ruggedness. We folded up the stroller and walked up steps for 15 minutes to a pagoda that stands at the top. The children, having known nothing like hiking through redwoods in California, felt a great sense of accomplishment. At the top we ate peanut butter jelly sandwiches made with bakery fresh bread, Lays potato chips, and crisp apples. As I finished up someone else’s apple my eye caught a rock with wire wrapped around it. A weight for weightlifting.
Some things I carry in life look like these weights. They’re ugly, the thin handle cuts into the hand, it knocks against my body and scrapes up my shins. It’s unpleasant, a weight I would choose not to carry. But, in my heart of hearts, I know it’s the weight that is making me strong and fit in all the spiritually right ways. I’d choose to carry one of those rubber coated ones with smooth sides if I had a choice. But, it doesn’t seem I have a choice in these things.
I wonder if this weight is not unlike the thorn in the flesh Paul talks of, a weight that I’d rather be taken from me. One that keeps me humble by the sheer pain of it.