Prayer guides hikers

I suppose a trip down the relatively un-traveled canyon of Yosemite, Tanaya Canyon, had been a goal of mine for several years, mainly because of what I’d heard about the spectacular views of the great Half Dome down the gorge. But once I was there, hiking—or should I say boulder-hopping and climbing–with my proficient son and five other (novice) climbers, I realized that I might be in over my head. Rappelling down rock walls with fully loaded backpacks, sometimes into waterfalls and cold pools, precarious rock-hopping across the tumbling, roaring creek, and traversing steep granite slabs, struggling to find very ill-defined trails in the dark, together with a foot injury problem that had been plaguing me for several years, all created a situation in which I had nowhere to turn except to my understanding of God’s protecting, preserving, and comforting presence with me at all times.

As good as my intentions were, however, fear and concern still hovered around me. It was once written that “worry is the lowest form of thought” or that fear and worry claim to be necessary, but actually have no useful purpose at all. And my favorite definition of worry—“Ingratitude in advance.”

Well, I must admit, I was worried and fearful, both for my own well-being and for the safety of our little group. That week, the Christian Science Bible lesson had been on the subject of Truth, another word for God, and many of the references were centered on taking the “right path” or walking the straight and narrow without straying off-course from the truth of God’s ever-presence and His guiding Hand. This was exactly what I needed, as I struggled to hold my thought in sync with Truth. I must say, however, that more times than I care to admit, I allowed my thought to stray, and intrusive fear-mongering thoughts would flood in. I found myself complaining about precarious situations or expressing my doubts about which way we were choosing to go as we worked our way over boulders and down the gorge. (It was only later, after the trip, that I learned that every year several hikers perish, trying to negotiate this canyon without proper understanding of its perils).

After several false stops and starts at adjusting my thought, I prayed along the lines of trusting that our real “team leader” was divine Mind, giving us the insight and wisdom to take the correct ways, make the right moves, and use the right precautions as we made our way down the canyon. And I must say, it wasn’t as much I, but both of my sons (my other son was along as well), who rose to the occasion with a calming presence, assuring us all that we could all accomplish this task successfully, without any incidence of injury or danger. And on several occasions my climbing-proficient son made some unusual directional decisions for the group that were crucial to bringing us down the gorge successfully and fully intact. We completed the hike, fully trail-tested, but safe and grateful.

It has been said that the secret to life’s peace and happiness has nothing to do with what happens to you or what situations you find yourself in, but has everything to do with how you respond. And every day we can each strive to do a better job of responding to every situation in daily life with a renewed awakening to God’s, Love’s, ever-protecting and guiding presence. This way, our lives are no longer made up of outward situations that the human mind wants to label as “good” or “bad”, but rather a deep inner assurance that brings our peace into the situation and results only in a further awakening to God’s love.

S.V.

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