Recently things have gotten challenging. Messy. It happens in every life. To everyone. Some just hide it better than others.
I decided to take a weekend away to reconnect with myself. And God. I found a monastery that provided such a respite and off I went. On Sunday morning I attended mass with the sisters and then decided to go for hike.
Behind the beautiful grounds of the chapel was a large mountain that I longed to climb. I found a trail and started my ascent. In and out it weaved, narrowed, and then the trail completely stopped, but the mountain did not. I wanted to get to the top so I began to make my own path. Up and over fallen trees, moss covered patches and through heavy brush. About 20 minutes later, I finally saw the clearing ahead. I had made it. I stood looking down, admiring the beauty before me. God’s hand in every moth, flower and shrub.
I was ready to head back down but realized I couldn’t see any path that wasn’t covered to my shoulder with thickets. Not only that, but I didn’t recognize the direction in which I had come up the mountain. I tried several routes, trying to push through the overgrowth. It shoved me deeper in. After ten minutes, I hadn’t made any real progress. I tried not to panic. No one knew where I had gone. I had my phone but even if I called the monastery, I couldn’t begin to tell them where I was. And unless there was a flying nun I had not met, almost all of the sisters were between the ages of 60 and 80 years old and not able to come save me. My Google Maps kept telling me to make my way to a road. Helpful advice. Thanks.
“Alright God, it’s just you and me,” I said while taking in a deep breath.
So I did. I pulled my sweatshirt from around my waist and despite the hot day, put it on to protect my arms as I started breaking through brush. Where are Indiana Jones and a machete when you need them? I fought back the sticks and trees, often crawling on my knees an inch at a time, hoping I was heading in the right direction.
Finally, I saw a massive field of waist high grass in the distance. A wire fence prevented me from accessing it. What are the odds this was an electric fence? I took off my sweatshirt and braced myself. I flung the fabric onto the fence waiting for sparks. Nothing. I actually had no idea if that was even a valid way to test for electricity, but since I had quit Girl Scouts in third grade, it was all I had. I hoisted myself up and over. A non-frying success!
The good news… I was out of the woods. Literally. However, I still had no idea where I was. I began wading through the grass, fell into a hidden stream, soaked my sneakers, grimaced and kept going. Beyond the field were rolling hills covered with a well manicured lawn. It must lead to a road!
Like Dorothy on her way through the poppies to Oz, I tried to quicken my pace but the dense weeds made it nearly impossible. I arrived at another fence. Seriously, what is happening in this community that makes them need to barricade everything in. This fence was also sweatshirt test approved. I launched myself up and over and landed with a thud on the other side.
I looked around. I was on a golf course. Right in the middle of hole number five. Two carts with polo clad men drove by. I was dressed in running clothes, had sticks in my hair, bloodied shins and sweat everywhere. But, here is one thing I have learned in life. If you look like you know what you are doing, no one will ask you otherwise. I started down the path. Head high. A nod to the gentleman at the tee box. I followed the cart path and took off in a run. Surely there must be a clubhouse near hole nine. After running for several minutes, I unfortunately discovered this course must rival Nullarbor Links to be the world’s longest golf course. I hadn’t even reached hole six yet. I debated commandeering a golf cart but the thought of my sweet nun friends having to post bail made me reconsider.
To my far left I spotted a development separated by yet, another fence.
Two greens lay between me and access to the neighborhood. Both had foursomes set to tee off down the fairway. It was that moment I was thankful I was a runner. I took off. Scrambled down an embankment and sprinted across both vast greens, ignoring the yells and hoping a ball didn’t smack me in the side of the head. This was not how I wanted my story to end. I finally made it and vaulted over the fence, sans sweatshirt test, because I really had nothing left in me.
I slipped through someone’s back yard and hit macadam. I could have kissed the blacktop. I pulled out my phone and typed in the monastery address…..two and a half miles away. I started to laugh hysterically. And I started to walk. Because sometimes all you can do is keep going, not certain where it’s leading, but knowing He’s walking through the chaos, right beside you, matching you stride for stride. Miles to go, mountains and valleys, but never alone.
Mamas, it is so necessary to share with each other that we all fall on challenging, stressful and painful times in our lives. If you are there right now, make sure you take some time for you. Here’s a link to the amazing monastery I visited in case it might provide a peaceful sanctuary for your soul. Saint Emma Monastery If you are facing your mountain right now, please let me know how I can pray for you! In the mess of life, there is God saying “Watch what I do with this. I create beauty from the ashes.”