For 38 years we’ve been hiking the trails in and around Lee Vining, CA. Some of the trails we hike every year multiple times; there is familiarity with the surroundings and a comfort in returning to places that bring delight and joy. How is it that after all these years there was one trail my life partner had never explored? How is it that after all these years of me asking, “Well, is there any trail new to me we might go?” this trail never was mentioned? Apparently, it had simply not occurred to him.
We hiked one day to the end of this trail in Warren Canyon off Tioga Pass. It is forested with lots of shade and mostly level for the first half mile, then it goes up. The trail rises steadily through the trees and follows Warren Creek so every so often one hears the creek and sees the creek. Still, it’s up, and up is slow going at 9,000 feet.
The trail opens to a meadow and seems to end. On a map this is indeed the end of the trail. However, it is possible to go “cross-country” and go over a pass to Oneida Lake, above Lundy Canyon. The thunder heads were gathering, and we determined it was prudent to not do any further exploring. We did return on another day to figure out how to get over the pass for a future backpacking trip.
Mike downloaded a map that allowed us to see where we were on the map, thanks to GPS. Between the actual map, the blue dot that was our “avatar” and our own eyes scanning the sites, we picked our way up the side of the mountain once the trail ended. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, hiking without a trail. We’ve gotten lost even with a trail.
We are living in a time in which we think we don’t have a map or GPS, but there are people who have been through a pandemic. Their stories have been documented in books and film. It is wise to learn from our own history. There are people who have worked to end slavery, end racism. Their stories are documented in books and film. It is wise to learn from our own history. It may seem like we are on a trail without a map, that we are looking at a horizon completely foreign to us, but this is not the case.
When lost on a trail, or feeling lost in life, fear can take hold and alter our vision and perspective. Fear may be helpful for getting out of the way of falling debris or a moving car, but sustained fear is perhaps the greatest cause of spiritual destruction. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment.” (I John 4:18) Our call to follow Christ is to “love God, love our neighbor as ourself”. The more we love, the less room there is for fear.
As you look at the landscape we are in and wonder where the trail is, remember this. Pay attention to the stories of love and courage to guide you. Don’t allow anyone to capitalize on your fears; they do not have the love of God and neighbor in their sights. Pay attention to the generosity that is stirred in you to love beyond your fears because that is the Spirit of God hoping to guide you to a place where love abides.