Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Journeying Together

As a newly married couple, my husband and I joined my parents on a trek of the Grand Canyon. We planned and prepared to hike the 24-mile distance spanning from rim-to-rim. On the night before beginning this adventure, we gathered as a group for dinner at Jacob Lake Lodge near the north rim of the canyon. It was there we overheard, “When will we begin the race from rim-to-rim?

Steve and I were shocked by the word "race". Unbeknown to us, our group was planning to run not hike, as we had planned!

We were ill-prepared and ill-trained. But as a couple, we had two choices: we could join the drivers on the interstate for a 5-hour drive from the north to the south rim, or we could participate - feeling quite inadequate - in the "race."

The next morning, Steve and I were dropped off at the snowy 14,000 foot north rim. What followed was an amazing journey over beautiful terrain. Yet, 5-miles in, my legs were aching. There were 19 miles remaining and no turning back.

As we descended the canyon, 15 degree winter weather became 80 degree summer sun.
At 10 miles, I had already ran through exhaustion once. At 15 miles, we reached Phantom Ranch, and stopped running - but only briefly - to fill our water bottles.

We continued on, and at seventeen miles began our ascent up the Bright Angel Trail. This climb pushed me beyond my limits. I remember wanting to lie down on the trail to sleep – and await helicopter rescue. When incoherence officially set in, fortunately Steve took my hand. Together we were able to reach the south rim.

Isn't life often like this journey? Perhaps we start our tour with expectations of grand vistas to be experienced in the comfort of hikers stride. But the reality becomes that the hike turns into an endurance race! We feel inadequate to meet the challenge, yet we must not let our feelings of inadequacy keep us from step-by-step responding to our challenges. And along the path, through the hands of others, we are strengthened to do things beyond what we thought was our limited capacity.

I count it a great blessing that I can walk, hand-in-hand and step-by-step, in this journey of life (which offers great vistas but also steep ascents) with my husband Steve. He is a great source of strength for me.

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