The other think about hiking is the people you meet.
Last week, while I was returning on the River Trail, I passed two young women who asked me what lay ahead. I told them the trail continued, and they asked, “Is there a view?” I was a bit puzzled. The trail we were walking lay along the top of a cliff; to the left were a river and a plunging gorge; to the right, trees and grasses and massive boulders etched with lichen. I tried to explain that all you needed to do was look, and there would be a view there, but the women looked at me as if I were speaking a foreign tongue. Suddenly, I understood; they wanted an official view. You know what I mean: one with a sign that said “This is a view. Look here for beauty.”
I had to laugh, but then I understood that I, too, had done the same. Not for a view, but certainly in my relationship with God. When I was first baptized, I kept looking for those signposts: Moses slept here. This way for a vision. It took me a long time to realize that life — even spiritual life — doesn’t work like that.
Oh, there are some signposts: Eucharist. Baptism. The teachings of the church. But mostly it’s a matter of what happens when you walk out the church doors into the everyday. Look left! There are people who need your love. Look right! You’ll find plenty of reasons to pray. All around you, there is this glorious, broken world that needs you to tend it. But it’s up to you to figure out how.
Go teach a child. Feed a hungry person. Have a baby or adopt one. Visit a prisoner or a lonely senior. Heal a sick body. Run a race with only one leg. Research how to splice a gene, cure an illness. Make something beautiful. Or troubling. Make something lumpish that only you could make. Care for someone as only you can love.
Oh, there will be signposts along the way, but they are not your destination or the point of your pilgrimage. They are glimmers of hope and bread for the journey. But the journey itself, only you can make. God made only one of you. Live that life.