Pastor’s Pen October 22, 2017

“Then a voice shall be heard: Build up a highway, build it and clear the track, sweep away all that blocks my people’s path. Thus says the high and exalted One, whose name is holy, who lives forever.”

  • Isaiah 57:14

For some time I’ve secretly planned to hike the 100 Mile Wilderness in Northern Maine. Since one-third of the fun is planning the thing, one-third is doing the thing, and one-third is remembering the thing, by my estimation I’m one-third towards accomplishing the goal. Or so I thought.

Just this week a friend from church gave me an article from the newspaper about the trek, and suddenly it didn’t sound like fun. Though I’m not afraid of much, the notion of ten days off-line and off-grid with a constant uphill (how is that even possible) slog through rock, bramble and sludge, suddenly seems less than appealing.

Though I hoped that the article was fake news, I fear that it is not. For one thing, I’ve talked about it with a number of folks hoping for some hiking partners, and not one has said, “Yay, let’s do it.” It’s not the kind of thing I’d do alone as the trail appears not much more than a path, both tortuous and long. I get lost on my way to the beach in New England, so can’t guarantee that I’d find my way home without an unlikely trail of crumbs. Therefore, I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going.

There are other challenging trails that lead to more promising places. I’ll go there instead. As the morning chill prophesies a seasonal change, there will be months to dream of such things. The coming snow won’t quit the trails until we’re waving flags and sparklers next July.

In the meantime, we’re talking a lot about following the Way of Jesus here at our church, and that path provides sufficient challenge to keep me out of trouble at least until spring. The path seems wide enough, the necessary tools free and easy to obtain. Yet each new day presents it’s own surprise. “Ugh, that nasty judgment I’m carrying is weighing down my pack.” “I can’t believe I stepped all over that person trying to make their way alongside me on the trail.” “I hope God will forgive me for keeping my lunch safely tucked away when I ran into that woman who was hungry after the raccoons got into her stash.”

I know I’m pressing the metaphor too far. And yet, the hundred year journey of faith is ever so much more challenging than any hundred mile wilderness, with it’s own twists and turns and challenges. It is said of the 100 Mile Wilderness that there’s no turning back or walking out until the end, and here the comparison holds. Once we’re in, we’re in, walking this way of Jesus, a path made possible and bearable by the mere fact that God keeps re-filling our pack, and sending companions to keep us company and lighten our way.

Apparently I’m about two-thirds of a life into the hundred-year journey, following the Way of Jesus. See you on the trail.

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Anna V. Copeland