Stop, before you look around

The best advice I got trekking through the Dolomites was to stop walking before you look around. It’s important to focus on each step. The trail was wide and there was plenty of room to maneuver but the exposure made it seem dangerous. It could have been easy to let the unwelcome thoughts of tripping and falling take over my mind, but the exposure reminded me of the time when my elementary school gym teacher put a balance beam two inches from the ground. Everyone in the class could do all of the tricks. When he moved it two feet off the ground, we all froze.

The snow that fell unexpectedly on the third day added another element to the difficulty of the steep exposed trails. The wind had caused the snow to drift and sometimes it was above my knees. I felt myself focusing on just the next step. My eyes searched out the footprint ahead of me measuring the depth, looking for ice, judging if the rock was going to move, and looking for a spot to put my pole. My concentration on the trail was augmented with an immense feeling of gratitude for Dario, our guide who was breaking the trail, and Jill who was following him creating a clearer and easier path by placing her foot on top of his prints. I realized that Dario was taking short steps instead of his typical long strides to accommodate me. Both people walking ahead of me made my journey easier.

We made progress, step by step. Each of us had to take our own steps but we were doing it together.

I never felt frightened. I knew all of us could physically do it.

I trusted our guide.

Hiking is an obvious metaphor for life. There are moments in our journey when we struggle through some unexpected obstacles. It takes an enormous effort on our part but when we have a guide, when we have someone willing to walk in front of us and someone willing to follow us to ensure that we are taking the steps we need to take, we make progress.

It is important to stop and look around not only in order to see progress and the beauty of the scenery, but to be reminded that we are following in someone’s footsteps and we don’t walk this journey of life alone. Someone has walked a similar road, had similar problems, similar aches and pains, similar thoughts and may just be willing to share their experience.

It helps to know we are not alone even though we have to take our own steps. It’s helpful to know there are others on the road ahead of us and behind us. When we take time to stop, look around, and notice them we can give thanks that they were willing to forge ahead, take the lead, and make it easier for those of us who follow.

I have had some great mentors in my life. These are people who took the time to show me the way and to break a trail so my walk would be easier.

Thank you.

Published by Julie Cicora

I'm an Episcopal Priest that loves using knitting as a spiritual discipline.

One thought on “Stop, before you look around

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: