Just ahead I notice the path goes under the road. There is a large circular opening, filled with darkness. I wasn't sure of where I was or where the tunnel would lead. As I slowly edged closer, I noticed the path outside the tunnel was well worn from the rushing water and from the footprints of other hikers. Many had stood in this place.
I wanted to head in, to make my way through. But, it was too dark and I could not see where it ended or what might be lurking inside. As I stood there, something deep inside of me knew I needed to make my way through this tunnel. The darkness was overwhelming and the unknown paralyzed me.
I edged closer to the opening and peaked inside, hesitantly yet longing to make my way through the darkness I caught a glimpse of the other end. Way out in the distance I could see a ray of light as the angle of the sun made it's way into the darkness. Although I could not see what was between the beginning and the end, there was hope as the lush, vibrant forest called me forward. At the other end there was a new land.
I wanted to run, to abandon my fears and hesitation and make my way through the darkness.
I couldn't, I was not ready.
Something inside me knew, I would return to this place but for now I did not possess what I needed to make my way through this darkness.
I turned to retrace my steps and find another way back to the retreat center, I tried a different strategy. I began to climb up the steep hill and walk along the roadway. Thinking I would be able to get my bearings and figure out where I was and what was on the other side of tunnel.
Ironically, as I made my way to the top of the hill and planted my feet on the paved road that thousands had traveled, I realized I was literally in the borderland between a local high school and Fatima Retreat Center. I stood on the roadway and looked below to see the opening of the tunnel -- then made my way to the other side of the road. There was too much growth, there was no way to make my way down to the other side of the tunnel. I stood there for awhile surveying my options, considering alternative plans. There really were none.
I will be back -- life will bring me back and when I do I will not return alone. You see after years of doing the hard things alone, I'm learning I need others to walk alongside me -- in the good times and in the bad times-- to celebrate life's joys and to grieve life's disappointments and losses.
Together, we will come back -- we will bring along a flashlight and we will make our way through.
My journey on that day came to an end... to see what was beyond the barrier of the road and hill -- I know I will have to make my way through the darkness.
I walked away sad yet more determined to return and face what lies ahead, beyond the borderland, through the darkness. I know I'll need light for the path and a friend or two for the journey.
Friends come and friends go,but a true friend sticks by you like family. .Proverbs 18:24