Dear Russell and Friends,
I hiked the trail above about 10 days ago. It is the Kalalau Trail in Kauai. Our family has been planning and saving for this trip to celebrate the graduation of our oldest son for years now. We went with two other families whom we’ve known for almost 20 years. Our kids call them Aunt and Uncle and their kids are more like the first cousins mine don’t know.
As you might predict, the five boys ranging from 12-18 moved a little faster than the adults ranging from 40-44. A lot faster. Along the way we saw this.
It is certainly the type of picture I’ve seen before either in print or film, but seeing it in person was different. The whole trip was different. I’m a planner, but I’ve learned from my more spontaneous friends over the years. This trip was a medley of planned events and open space to fill as we decided with little notice. I actually caught up on sleep and recharged my batteries to the point that this week’s work was well supplied.
Our halfway point was here.
The water was so cold after the 4 mile hike in. It was bracing, clean and pure. My sons and I swam in the waterfall. I’ll rank the experience, like the hike in general, as one of the most memorable. Then 4 miles out. We heated pizza for the kids and went out with the adults – – memories and margaritas. This was the least expensive, most fun part of our trip. Hiking.
Why do I like hiking so much? I’ve been giving that more thought as the boys and I prepare for Pike’s Peak in two weeks. I’ve been giving it even more thought as I consider this place to read and write with you. I was decidedly and purposefully off the grid when Russell prompted a flurry of activity with his rainbow removal service post. And since I’ve been back the question rises – – do I go back on the grid? Why am I here in the first place? Why keep writing? A friend reminded me with my own words.
He needs to talk. I need to listen. Why have this conversation? Why have it in public? Why adopt pseudonyms? We don’t think that we are alone. Many in our generation need a safe place to come and reason together. My orientation to the skeptic, agnostic, and even atheist has changed. It has changed like a compass needle with the orientation of my heart. As I follow Christ I realize . . . he loved me, I will love them.
Then she used her words.
I think it has been useful, although painful at times. A recent example I can point to is the softening in your heart toward gay people—I know you’ve always loved them, but I’ve seen a change in how you write about them. Your response to the documentary my friend recommended was a blessing to me and to my friend. Your words have softened my heart, too.
Why was I doubting this trail at all? Because I’m tired. Yes the Hawaii trip added much back, but sometimes that kind of refreshment tempts you to fundamentally change and not let yourself get so tired again. Because I wonder if the impact of words with strangers can change me to the same extent that unread words in a paper journal can. Can those words open doors to others or only seal them tighter shut? Because I’m not as noble as I think I am and I quit sometimes. No one likes a quitter. That’s one of the reasons I sometimes can’t like myself. And yet.
The most beautiful trails I’ve ever walked involved effort, sometimes mud and bruises. But they were beautiful. I am not a person who enjoys or seeks arguments. Perhaps more honestly, I do enjoy arguments but find that they are usually destructive and try to avoid them. Some of the arguments here have changed me, just as my friend asserted. Do I still follow Christ? More closely than before I began. Do I still care about skeptics? The same answer applies. After thinking more about the trails and trailheads in this blog and in my life, for now I need to keep hiking.
Am I the only one who runs away sometimes, even in his own mind?
Have you been tempted to disengage the friends or internet strangers you know you need to know?
Do you get tired and find that re-charging can have a paradoxical effect?
Did any of this make sense? Sometimes I’m too metaphorical for my own darn good.