Well Trodden Paths

A friend was describing his numerous expeditions climbing Mt. Rainier, one of which was undertaken at night. Climbing a mountain like that already seems terrifying and I cannot fathom doing it in the dark. But apparently that's the best way because the light on your helmet only allows you to see a limited distance ahead - enough to provide you with the information you need to proceed, but not so much that you become paralyzed with fear. Sometimes I think that's the way I should proceed through life - in the dark with a small beam of light pointed directly ahead. Seems the older I get, the more I focus on the big picture to the point that I become paralyzed with fear and can't move at all. I'm always looking into the future, thinking that if I do this, than that could happen. If I go here, then I won't be able to go there. If I say one thing, some one down the road could say another.

This is nothing new for me, but my reactions intensify with age as my awareness of time limitations increases. I'm 55 years old (until Friday, at least) so if I'm lucky I probably have about 25 years of independent living left. There's not a lot of time for major do-overs, people. The pressure is on to make the right decisions now.

My mountain climbing friend happens to be a minister, and so he uses the story as an analogy of faith. He also talks about following in the footsteps of those who have climbed ahead of him. There is a well-trodden path up that mountain, he says, and seeing the pathway others have navigated successfully helps the climber find his own way as well.

I find myself searching for pathways right now, looking for someone who has walked this way before and can help me forge ahead toward the next steps on my journey. Where should I be making my home? What should I be doing for my family that could  help them the most? How can I make the best use of my time and talents?

How can I get to the top of the mountain before it's too late?

Kerstin has been dealing with some of these same issues which she relates on her blog, Conversations Over Soup. We're both trying to find our path up a mountain side of change, and feeling confused and pressured about making good choices. It's been nice to commiserate with someone else who is also feeling their way rather blindly up life's craggy cliffs. Alas, all too often I feel as if I'm following the path of Jesus, who, according to the old spiritual "knew He must walk this lonesome valley, He must walk it by himself."

I think it would be ever so nice to have a hand to hold along the way. Or at the very least, a set of footprints to follow.

How about you? Have you successfully climbed any mountains lately?