Our family went hiking once with our dear friends. We chose a trail which winds about two miles up and two back down, with a decent elevation change, leading to a panoramic view of our city. My job was to get my 3 year-old ready. He, of course, did not really understand what was going on. He knew that the other kids and my wife and I were excited, and we were going to be outdoors. That was enough for him to understand that he should be excited, but not enough to anticipate what was going to happen or gather what he would need on the hike.
As the parent, I was in charge of picking out his clothing, food, water, backup clothing, etc. I also needed to arrange his transportation to and from the trail head, direction of travel along the path, protection from the cliff edge once at the top, and encouragement for his little legs to give all their strength along the way.
As we hiked, I was excited to see the view from the top. Having lived and worked in in the area for many years, I wanted to see the view from above. I wanted to pick out my workplace, our old apartment, the river, stadium, etc. My son, however, was interested in what was at his feet.
He stopped to pet each piece of soft, fuzzy moss (EVERY ONE WE PASSED), filled his pockets with rocks that he found, would dig rocks out of the ground in the center of the trail while oblivious to the many other hikers trying to pass by him, and stopped to pet every single dog that was coming or going. We reminded him at the appropriate times to relieve himself in a discreet bush, stay on the trail, hurry up, smile for a picture, etc.
His little legs carried him 2/3 the way up the hill, and then he had to ride on my shoulders or my wife’s shoulders the rest of the way. Rather than allowing myself to be frustrated by his pace, which would have been my normal reaction, I watched him. He noticed and appreciated things I passed without a second thought. When we found rocks with cracks or depressions which were full of water from the rain the evening before, he was surprised and amazed each time. I enjoyed the hike through his eyes, marveling at his marveling.
It was a long hike for him. He was not able to complete the task alone, but he gave it all the effort he could give. The same happened on the return trip. When he got in the car, it was nap time while we drove home. He was still asleep when we arrived home, so I carried him into the house and laid him onto the couch. While he was sleeping, we unloaded the rocks from his pockets for him, but didn’t throw them away. We stored them on a shelf to wait and see if he wanted us to get rid of them, or keep them himself. While he slept we wiped the dirt from his hands, legs, and face.
I am grateful to my Lord for providing me with this path of life. I trust Him to prepare me, encourage me, direct me, and come to my aid as I give my very best effort to complete the task before me. I understand that I cannot do so alone, and will rely on Him to carry me when I am weak. When I have given everything I have and He brings me home, I am thankful that He can release my burdens that I picked up in this life and take them away for me. Mormons are Christians, and we believe in Christ’s healing power. He can wash me clean and present me to the Father. I expect to be tired, bruised and scarred, but I will be clean, proud, and will know my Savior well. And I will have enjoyed the journey.