If you ever find yourself on Tunica Hills Trail B, heed this advice……when you get to B14, TURN AROUND!
Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. This isn’t Monopoly. Mother Nature don’t play.
GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM!
Several weeks ago, before we were ordered to shelter in place, a friend of mine and I decided to venture out to St. Francisville for a little hiking excursion. For the first time in a very long time, we found ourselves without our precious carbon copies (which is a rare thing in the life of a Mom). Somewhere between our jobs, our families, our adulting responsibilities, a whole lot of cleaning and Mommin so hard, we had both become inundated with big girl decisions and the urge to buck the system – all on a short household supply of toilet paper and wine. It was time to disconnect. We needed peace and quiet, no technology, and no talk of Corona. We needed the good snacks. You know, the ones you don’t have to hide in the laundry room or pantry with because your kids have been home for 64,825 days and insist on eating every 5 minutes.
So, we set off (having never been to Tunica Hills before and having absolutely no idea where we were going, btw) and took this whole “social distancing” thing to a whole new level.
Sunroof open. Music turnt up. Sun shining on our faces. It was going to be a good day. We even managed to make a pitstop along the way and successfully managed to get in and out without touching a single surface with our bare hands. We were crushing this trip – until we weren’t.
What you see is what you get.
Being the overachievers that we are, of course, we picked the trail that said, “not fit for children or the not physically fit.” We’re fit. We run. We workout. How hard can it be to follow the little blue paint marks on the trees? Pffftt. We’ve got this!
We marched our way along and it was breathtaking. The trails were paved with fresh air, stillness, and metaphors in every direction. Like this tree, for instance. As we approached it, we were intrigued by how it had clearly fallen some time ago, yet, its innate response was to find its way back to the earth from which it originally grew. Branch by branch, it was adapting to its “new normal” and the result was beautifully on display before us.
Interestingly, as we passed this tree and turned to take another picture, we saw this. It suddenly looked as though it was coming at us desperately trying to grab on and hang for dear life.
It drew a pause from me, and I got to thinking. How often do we not have a complete understanding of something……because we only saw one angle? Or, how often do we miss an opportunity because we don’t explore all sides?
Life – it’s all about perspective.
Arriving at B14
As we continued, we joked about paying attention to our markers and making sure we didn’t go “too far” off the beaten path; but, you know curiosity killed the cat, right? Funny though (because we laugh about it now), I had a few friends warn me that they had gotten lost around marker B14. We stopped for a sip of water and to take more pictures because #MomsTakePictures and a short distance later, here we are……B14. We looked around and burst into a fit of laughter. Seriously? People got lost here? How?
Then, we saw it. A towering cliff, in the distance, to our left that boasted rocks of different shapes and sizes. You could tell by the intricate carvings that it had taken years for the land to wash away there, forming the overhang. My fearless friend insisted on climbing it. While she was off being Mary Poppins, a bed of sand caught my eye. It outlined a path that went deeper and deeper into the woods. The deeper it went, the damper it got. WATER! I knew somewhere near had to be a bed of water. I wanted to find it.
I trekked back to snag a few photos of my friend conquering the cliff and entice her to find the source of the water. We took a quick water break then boldly strode further along, except the further we went, the sand got drier. No water. Eventually, we noticed one very small – but significant – detail……our blue markers were gone.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
We continued to walk, convinced that we would inevitably find a blue marking SOMEWHERE. The harder we looked, the more things all began to look the same. The quicker our legs moved, the faster the sun seemed to be setting. Finally, we stopped and turned. Confidently, we agreed that all we had to do was go back the way we came and…..we have technology! We didn’t have a map, but we have the ability to ping my car!
There’s just one problem – no cell service.
At this moment, all maternal instincts seemed to whither away. The daylight was growing thinner. It occurred to us how tired we had become. If I can be honest for a moment, panic began to sink in. What would happen if we couldn’t make it back? How long would it take for anyone to notice we were missing? Did we have enough provision to sustain us until that happened? Or, would Big Foot find us first?
I fought back tears. Although she is one of the strongest people I know, I could see the weariness on my friend’s face. So, we did the most logical thing we knew we could do.
Jesus, I need you to be a ball of fire and light the way. Guide our steps and walk along with us.
We were completely at His mercy. This, my friends, is what total and complete surrender looks like – two exhausted women whose feet may be small, but their faith is larger than life.
Then, out of nowhere – FOOTPRINTS!
Are those human? No? Oh, they’re of an animal. Great!
Is the animal a deer? No. A dog? No.
Did you just say it looks big enough to be a bear? Ok, cool. The story we’re going to go with, is really large breed dog because I don’t plan to get eaten today. We need to walk. Nope, check that – we need to RUN. Let’s GO!
Hidden in the Hills
Needless to say, I’m sitting here writing this; so, we obviously made it out alive. I’ll spare you the details (believe it or not, it got even more interesting as we found our way back).
At the beginning of the trip, I wanted to throw my phone into a ravine. By the end of the trip, I had never been happier to see little white bars come back, in all of my life. As we made our way home, there was less talking and more reflecting. The energy shifted. There was a peace that had fallen over us.
God met us in the woods that day. Although I had to go to His message was clear.
It doesn’t matter where we are. He’ll meet us anywhere. And, if we get out of His way, He’ll write a beautiful story.
If we are depleted and defeated, holding back tears at the kitchen sink….washing dishes for the 53rd time in a day, if we are hiding in the laundry room silently wishing we were far away on a beach, if we are scrubbing floors at 3 AM because we can’t sleep wondering if we’ll have a job to go back to, if we are crying ourselves to sleep at night because we just don’t have an ounce of energy left to spare……there’s good news – He’ll meet us there.
He can even meet us in the hills.
Whatever your trail looks like, surrender it to Him. Let Him fight your battle for you – He hasn’t lost one yet, including the one on B14.