Two weeks I promised to share more with you about my magical hike. I believe we left off at lunch…
I was lost in reverie, sitting on a shady rock by the stream when a few voices echoed off the canyon walls. Curiously I looked up and saw two men hiking around the corner. Few people came back this way so I shouted out a greeting. They came over to chat and asked me what lay ahead. I told them I’d never been much farther back due to an impassable, deep, cold pool. I hadn’t tried hiking further this day, however, so they decided to check it out.
After several minutes passed and they didn’t return, a thought struck me. Maybe the pool was passable after all! Maybe they found a way around it! My toes tingled with excitement. I had long wanted to walk in the creek beyond my well-traveled path and see what lay deeper in this beautiful canyon, but I’d never been courageous enough to try it on my own.
Although I was always careful, I wasn’t sure rock hopping in slippery, unfamiliar territory on my own was a great idea. Just a few weeks ago campers reported seeing bear cubs back there too! I’d probably want to share a moment if I saw them, but I’m not so sure mama bear would feel the same. It dawned on me that perhaps I could catch up with the two hikers.
I splashed quickly through the creek. To my great delight, the formerly impassable pool was only hip-deep and blissfully refreshing in the summer heat. Freedom! I sloshed through water, weeds, and rock hopped with great zeal until I saw them up ahead. “Mind if I join you?” They kindly allowed me to tag along, and we proceeded to hike a few miles further into the canyon into some of the most beautiful territory I have ever witnessed.
With each curve of the creek, there were stunning, jaw-dropping vistas of carved red rock cliffs, emerald pools, and wildflowers as tall as I. Carpets of little green plants grew in the shallow waters flowing over iron-rich rock, and sandy spots bubbled up from natural springs. Towering pines gripped the cliff sides. Bird sang. The creek gurgled. The sun was warm and the water cool. It was pure heaven.
My companions and I cheered each other on while walking carefully on slippery underwater ledges and gripping the cliff so as not to drop all our belongings in the pools! We shared our sense of wonder and awe for the beauty all around. They helped hoist me up when I was too short to easily scale the rocks and I shared my first aid supplies. We were like children in God’s glorious playground.
Had I met two strangers on a city street, I’m not so sure I would be as comfortable inviting myself to walk with them. In the forest, however, we are all as little children – joyful, innocent, and filled with a sense of wonder and awe for the majesty of creation. It felt completely natural and perfectly safe to enjoy a playful day with these two wonderful souls.
When we listen to our natural urgings, magic awaits. I had been wanting to see what lay beyond the “beaten path” for years. Finally, in God’s timing and grace, both nature and life conspired to give me an experience I’ll never forget!
Here are some pointers this week to help you return to a natural state of being.
1. Trust your instincts
When you get the urge to say or do something that feels joyful and loving, go for it, whether it seems to be related to your goals or not. You may be guided in ways you can’t even imagine. I rarely feel like waking up at 4:30 am on a Sunday but I had a huge urge to go hiking which got me out of bed. Not only did I drive a total of four hours, and hike 12 miles on four hours sleep, but felt more energized than I had in ages. When joy calls, via an urge to say or do something, listen!
2. Speak up or Ask for what you want (kindly!)
In my past, I wouldn’t have dreamed of rushing through the creek like a gazelle to catch up with strangers and then inviting myself to tag along on their hike! I was trained not to “bother” people, not to “impose,” and not to be a “burden.” The angels worked with me for years to realize that if I asked kindly when I naturally wanted something, I had to trust that other people were adults who could say “yes” or “no.” That means we have to accept the “No’s” with grace of course, but when you get a “yes,” what a delight!
There are also times you may just want to speak up simply to ask a question or share a compliment. Don’t hold back. I have had glorious conversations with total strangers as a result of speaking what popped up in my heart. People often welcome connection. If they don’t, they’ll let you know.
3. Make sure your “yes” means “yes” and “no” means “no”
Just as we have a natural desire to ask for things or to speak up at times, we also have a natural instinct to say “yes” or “no” when someone asks something from us. I have had strangers ask me for help which I willingly gave. I’ve also had people latch onto me in ways that weren’t pleasing and I’ve had to kindly and honestly tell them I was in need of quiet time.
If you’re a people pleaser you may need to give yourself a little time to check in with your own heart before immediately responding with an automatic “yes.” If you feel “walled off” or defensive you may need to give yourself a little time before responding with an automatic “no.”
As you practice getting in touch with your own heart, you’ll know what feels right and what doesn’t more easily.
The more we return to that natural, innocent, childlike state of being, the more life offers up its joy, the more we discover joyful connections, and the more we get the assistance we need while sharing the gifts we have to offer.
God guides us, from the inside out, and it is so natural we don’t even have to think about it!